I found myself facing old demons this week – in a Ministers office with less than an hour’s notice and plenty at stake. But nearly everything gets easier with experience.
Nearly a decade on from this being my day job, I wasn’t rattled at all. When my time came to speak I was oddly calm, pretty fluent, affably persuasive and perfectly good-humoured.
Later as things were getting choppy, I instinctively waded in with a tide-turning point: ‘today’s good intentions risk tomorrow’s unintended consequences’; which helped keep some important foundations from being inundated. Then smiles, handshakes and off. Job done.
A quick summary letter, to nail the key points for posterity, and home for family and food.
So what made the difference? Experience; yes. Having the right arguments in my head; yes. But most of all keeping fear at bay: fear of ridicule, fear of being bullied, fear of failing, fear of humiliation and fear of consequences.
Just writing those fears makes my breathing shorten. But these days fears don’t prey on me half as much as they once did. Perhaps the greatest dividend from philosophy is a calmer and more ordered mind. It helps put many demons to rest.