A few years ago I was asked if I’d teach the art of public speaking to some people from an economically poor background. That day, I looked at a motley set of people and as I began to speak my heart sank; they looked anything but people who would one day get up and wax eloquent.

There was a shy school girl who couldn’t even look directly at me, a house wife who nodded to everything I said but who I found out later didn’t know English well, a man who had a nervous twitch that began twitching as if to distract me and others who looked equally incapable of such huge task. “There is a word which starts with the letter P which is the most important word in learning to speak in public, “I said, “What is it?”

“Persistence,” whispered the shy girl.

“You’re partially right,” I said kindly, “but that’s not the word I’m looking for just now!”

“Preparation,” said the twitching lip man.

“Again, very close, but not close enough!”

“Passion!” said the woman who could hardly speak English and I nearly hugged her.

“Yes,” I said, “its passion, and if you are filled with such passion that you can see yourself delivering a speech on something you really and truly and passionately believe in then you will achieve your goal of being powerful public speakers! It’s all about your hearts being on fire!”

I looked at each one of them after the class, the shy girl, the man with the twitch, the lady who had a problem with the language and in their eyes I saw hearts on fire. That evening before we left I let each of them have a chance to get on stage and speak and saw the fire had ignited in all of them.

And what happens when our hearts are not on fire? Then a dreadful word called, ‘indifference’ takes charge!

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel got it right when he said:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.

The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.”

And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Nothing will kill a dream or douse the fire of a good idea more quickly than indifference. To whatever endeavor you commit yourself, be on guard primarily against that spirit-quenching attitude of apathy.

Maybe it’s not just public speaking you want to succeed in, maybe it’s a project? A job? A relationship? A personal mission? A financial goal? A life purpose?

“Each one of us has a fire in our heart for something,” says Mary Lou Retton. “It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit!”

If there’s indifference today in you, a feeling of apathy, douse it, and remember my class of public speaker trainees then ignite a passion in yourself that will set your heart on fire..!

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