“I really hate maths!”
“I’m c*** at numbers”
“OMG, if it’s anything to do with numbers I just switch off.”
These are just a few of the things that I hear in my seminars when it comes to finance. Most of the people who come to my seminars come because they have to. They are either persuaded to come by their managers or they find themselves in a position where they have to manage a budget and think they don’t know how. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Most of us have been put off maths by our teachers and the way they have taught us. Only the problem is, they have tended to teach us in one way – the way that they know. For years I just hated maths in school. No matter what I was being taught, I just could not get my head around the numbers. The mathematical terminology only helped me to switch off.
But then I stumbled across a teacher who taught me in a way I could understand. My teacher at the time, Ian McDonald, saw that I just didn’t follow what he was teaching at the front so when he had finished the teaching part in class, he made sure everyone was following what he had set and then came and spent time with me. The first thing he did was find out what I knew. Knowing that I was on the wrong road, he then went about explaining it to me in a totally different way. He didn’t use any jargon and then went through each element step-by-step.
Before long I was answering the questions on my own. And because I was playing catch-up to the rest of the class he set me extra homework. Buoyed by my newly discovered ‘talent’, I completed the homework overnight and gave it to him the next morning. He could see my enthusiasm so set me more work which I completed overnight. This pattern continued for a few more months until Ian broke his leg and had to take a few months off school.
During this time I felt lost. I missed Ian and his guidance and struggled for a couple of months. But then I had exams to sit in about 3 months and knew I had to keep working hard. It wasn’t easy, but then something dawned on me. Ian was the catalyst for me to learn how to do maths ‘properly’ but what ‘properly’ really meant was that I’d discovered a way of doing maths that worked for me, and Ian showed me how.
So over the next few months I had another teacher and whilst I’d felt a little lost again, it was really upto me to interpret what was being taught into a method that I understood. Strangely, it worked. I had learnt an important lesson, a lesson I would go on to apply for the rest of my life. And that maths or finance isn’t really about numbers at all; it’s all about the process. Ian had taught me a process that I could grasp, and the numbers just slotted into that process.
It is the process that I focus on with the delegates who attend our training, and most are surprised how easy it all really is. If you can’t find the time to attend the training, then my book Unpuzzling Finance is something you can read in your own time.
What is the process that works best for you?