Speak From The Heart
It’s funny how in life, certain memories seem to “stick” more than others, isn’t it ? Memories of things people did, things people said.
To this day, I can still clearly remember that morning spent with my best man. It was on my wedding day, I was going to get married in the afternoon, I was going to give a speech at the reception, I hadn’t prepared anything, I was getting anxious.
“Speak from the heart. You can’t go wrong if you speak from the heart.” That’s what my best man told me that morning.
Yes sure, I thought, why not, it sounds like a good plan, but what does it mean exactly ? Speak from the heart. How does it feel when your heart is making a speech ? How do you know it’s your heart who does the talking?
The clock was ticking, hours passed. I didn’t know what it meant to speak from your heart until I was at the reception, mike in hand, in front of the people I loved, family, friends, my now wife. And then I learnt what it meant the hard way. The only way, really. I didn’t think of what I had scribbled on the paper in my hand. I was just there in the moment, and I spoke those words which indeed came from the heart. How do I know? Well, it’s a strange feeling, hard to describe. Let’s just say I could feel the emotions taking control of me. I felt at the same time very strong and so sure of myself, yet vulnerable.
That was 10 years ago. Since then, I have learnt a few more things on the topic which I would like to share with you now.
1. Speaking from the heart is not only for romantics - it’s for everyone.
It was once again proven to me last Sunday, after the Australian Open final. Rafael Nadal in his thank you speech went on and on to thank Tennis Australia, his coach, and all the sponsors, most of all KIA. His wife was there with him in the Rod Laver arena, she had watched all of his games over the last couple of weeks, but sadly she didn’t get a mention.
Seconds later, Novak Djokovic, - who had been such a dominant and ruthless competitor, did not mention a single sponsor - instead he talked to his wife who wasn’t even there. He wasn’t even too sure whether she was watching or if she was looking after the kids. Anyway he literally wrote her a love letter live on TV in front of millions (billions?) of people watching, saying the only successes worth having were the ones you were willing to share. Successes are so much sweeter when you’re sharing them with a special someone, he said. He showed the world how he felt in that very moment, he dropped his guard, he was prepared to show this side of him to the world. And he touched that tiny point that you can only ever reach when you are speaking from the heart. And I had a tear in my eye.
2. Speaking from the heart can save the day - if you trust yourself.
I remember that day when I proposed to my then fiancée. I had planned everything, yet everything went so wrong. I was going to propose with the two of us sitting on a bench opposite the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. On the day, there was so much fog we couldn’t see our feet. My plan B was to propose at dinner. The restaurant was so packed and so noisy we couldn’t hear each other. My plan C was to propose in our hotel room after dinner, with a bottle of Champagne. It was midnight by the time we came back, my fiancée was already m in her nighty, I was desperately waiting for the Champagne to be delivered. And then it came - a red sparkling wine, something unheard of in my native France. By that time, my fiancée was falling asleep. I pulled out a ten pages long letter that I was going to read out loud and that was going to culminate in these words : would you like to marry me? I spoke these words from the heart. And I heard “yes”. I wept.
3) Speaking from the heart is something one needs to practice to make it “stick”.
Speaking from the heart is like the heart itself - it is a living organism, it needs food, attention and good care to keep functioning as it’s intended. So today, I am practicing again. With you all. We have a few things in common already. We are all toastmasters, we are willing to show our vulnerable side to each other, we are confidents, we are like a family. And one day, we will probably go apart, like some families do, most families in fact when we think about it, many of us will go their own way, some of us might stick together for a little longer. And we’ll all look back at those years, at those moments we shared, at today’s Toastmasters’ reunion, and we will tell ourself that what we had was pretty special. Very special in fact. For we kept giving each other the greatest gift of all, the greatest gift one can give to another - and that is : to reveal oneself.
“Speak from the heart. You can’t go wrong if you speak from the heart.” That’s what my best man told me that morning 10 years ago.
And today, it’s my turn to pass on this message to you. And your turn to pass it on to other people around you, so that this message lives on and spreads across the world. So that this message becomes a memory that sticks. Because today’s world needs all of us to speak from the heart to treat its woes and get better.
Sydney, Thursday 31st January 19
Transcript of the speech I gave today at our Macquarie Toastmasters' reunion.