Struggle to speak? How Demosthenes became the greatest orator in Greece.

History serves us more than we realize, that is if we know it. Today I was reminded of a story from about 2400 year ago that I would like to share and then I will point out a few things that I believe are applicable to us living lives full of purpose and passion.

The story is being retold by my friend Ron Reynolds

“Demosthenes was perhaps the greatest of all Greek orators; he lived from 384 to 322 BC. He did not during his early years, find it easy to speak in public, because he stuttered when he tried to speak, and the stuttering was compounded by a shortness of breath that caused him to be able to speak only a few words at a time before having to deeply inhale; the combination of frequent inhaling and stuttering through the few words that came out between his inhalations, made him embarrassed to go out into public, fearful of the moment when he may have to speak.
Then, after being laughed at by an audience he was forced to address, a man who had been in the audience followed him home and spent time coaching him on how to overcome his problem.
First, Demosthenes practiced speaking in his private, underground study, with pebbles in his mouth.
Second, he practiced reciting poetry while running uphill. He was diligent; he would not give up, and over time both the stuttering and the shortness of breath were overcome and he emerged as the most brilliant orator in all of Greece.”

1. The man who stepped out to lend a hand and coach could be you. You may not be the best in your field of endeavor but you are always better than someone else that you can lend a hand to. And who knows they may become the greatest ever.

2. You have to believe in yourself.

3. Leverage your dream. Many people know what they want but they cant tell you Why they want it. So find your Why. Using this ex. It could be that you have something to say or that you are sick and tired of living with fear.
(This is usually where someone makes the decision that enough is enough and that something is going to change.)

4. Define the objects that stand between you and your goal. In this case a stutter and shortness of breath as well as fear and anxiety.

5. Get busy. Commit to getting better every day. You don’t have to set out to be the best just better than yesterday. Develop small habits and disciplines because as one area of your life gets better every other area begins to get better as a result.

6. Start small.

7. Develop a never quit attitude. No matter how hard or how long the journey may be you can’t quit. Not on yourself.

8. A man can do much more than he knows when he is desperate.

The more we look the more we can find in old stories like this one. That’s why I believe they have survived for so long being passed from one person to the next.

Never underestimate the power of helping someone in need. Because of a simple act of kindness extended to a desperate man thousands if not millions of lives have been changed forever. Don’t underestimate the power of your story. You could be the next great orator, or the next great teacher.

When was the last time you read or heard a story that was written before the clock changed to AD? And what was it?



Filed under leadership, life lessons, Personal Development

2 responses to “Struggle to speak? How Demosthenes became the greatest orator in Greece.

  1. Santhosh T R

    Amazing…… extraordinary…

  2. Pingback: Your First Speech!! | Scribbles

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