Prior to peacefully running the British out of India, he was a lawyer who was too cowed to speak up in court. He lost case after case. "He was a total failure," writes Paul Rogat Loeb in an AARP Bulletin piece adapted from his book Soul of a Citizen. Gandhi's Indian family "sent him off to South Africa, where he found his voice by challenging racial segregation."
It's a truism of public speaking that we lose any fear of it once what we have to say becomes more important than our personal performance.
"I love viewing Gandhi not as the master strategist of social change," Loeb writes, "but as someone who first was literally tongue-tied, shy and intimidated."