Thursday, April 16, 2009

Toastmaster Project 9: Persuade with Power

- Persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action
- Appeal to the audience's interests
- Use logic and emotion to support your position
- Avoid using notes

Time: 5 - 7 minutes

P 9: Follow your heart

Good evening Club President, District Officers, fellow toastmasters, friends and guests,

One day, the heart and the head had an argument over who was mightier. The head said "I could help you weigh the pros and cons and you will be able to make the best decision." The heart replied "If I were to stop working, you would too."

Many a time, we are at a dilemma whether should appeal to our emotions or our intellectual knowledge when making a choice. Four years ago, I was faced with the decision of putting my career on hold and uprooting my entire family to the United States. If I were to follow my head, I would have stayed in Singapore. But it was the heart that I followed, the love for my family brought me to experience a very different life and unleash the giant within me.

Before my stay in the States, I used to have a domestic helper. Even then, I always felt inadequate. Today, I am a full-time working mother with no maid and I cook dinner everyday for my family. Even though it is not very tasty, it is definitely a much healthier choice. I am glad that I followed my heart.

There is no shortage of examples of how ordinary men and women can perform extraordinary feat. We have Mother Theresa who for 45 years, ministered to the poor, sick, orphan and dying. Her passion is to care. Cliff Young – who in 1983 beat world-class athletes and broke the record for the 875 km Sydney Melbourne ultra marathon, even though, he was then a 61-year old farmer. Professor Andrew Wiles - who solved the 300-year old Mathematics problem known as Fermat’s Last Theorem. All this is only possible with passion.

Moving home, let me share with the story of David Lim, a professional mountain climber. While working in a law firm in London, David fell in love with mountain climbing. His heart was in the mountains when he returned to Singapore in a newspaper job. He dreamt to scale Mount Everest - with a summit of 8,848 metre - a vast difference from Singapore's highest point at Bukit Timah - a wooded hillock of only 164 metre above sea level.

He followed his heart and made his head work for his dream. For five long years from 1994 to 1998, he planned painstakingly for the eventual Mount Everest climb. Success he found in 1998 which was only after a series of nail-biting setbacks and mishaps.

But life dealt a hard blow on him shortly. He was inflicted with the rare and mysterious nerve disorder, "Gullain-Barre" Syndrome. His body literally wasted away as the disorder shut down all his limbs and respiratory system. He was paralysed for 6 months and had to re-learn simple tasks such as writing, dressing and walking.

The syndrome had left an indelible mark on him. He now walks and climbs with a limp. But his love for mountain climbing spurs him on. Today, he is a renowned mountain climber and a much sought after motivational speaker.

I heard him speak a few months back and I am really glad he has branched out into public speaking. For otherwise, I would not have known such a great man. I am inspired by his tenacity to stage a comeback in mountain climbing despite the permanent disability that the syndrome has left behind. Mountain climbing is a strenuous sport even for the well-bodied let alone the physically-challenged. For David, what goads him is his love, his passion for the sport. This is what David once wrote on what drives mountain climbers to scale greater heights. "It is the unknown in our hearts that drives us to the next peak. It is the need to know what our limits are."

Ladies and gentlemen, I will like to ask you why do you join the Toastmasters' Club? Many will say they want to improve their public speaking skills. But that is not the underlying reason. To use a metaphor, that is only the rocket. Passion is the fuel that propels the rocket. For me, my fuel is my love for my children. I want to be a better story teller and to be a good role model to them.

Passion is like a light that will guide us out of darkness. This is especially important with the state of the current world economy. When you follow your passion, one door will lead to another and you will never know where life will take you to. Just like David, who would have thought that someone in the city-state Singapore could eke out a living from mountain climbing. What could have given David the strength to defy all odds to climb again? It is passion.

I will urge you to look into your heart and ask yourself what you really enjoy doing. For when you follow your passion, you will be able to give your best. And you will not need to work a single day in your life.

Life is fragile, life is unpredictable. That makes it even more important for us to follow our heart, to live life to the fullest.

Toastmaster of the Evening.

1 comment:

Smile With Life said...

It’s an emphatically very persuasive speech. I saw your speech while I was preparing for my 9th project speech. I like the phrases you have used such as “nail-biting setbacks and mishaps”, “life dealt a hard blow on him shortly”, “Passion is the fuel that propels the rocket” etc. Those phrases really speak to the audience’s emotions. Great speech.