My mobile message alert pinged. The message from the dentist to remind me my check-up is due results in my usual response – butterflies in my stomach, tensing in my shoulders, clammy palms and an overwhelming gut wrenching dread.
I know logically that there is nothing to fear anymore. I have overcome my phobia of dentists, caused many years ago by a ‘Marathon Man’ experience with a dentist who I am still not convinced was qualified to practice! Botched injections, unnecessary treatment and excruciating pain kept me well away from dental surgeries for years.
Overcoming my fear took patience, knowledge, understanding and kindness from a fabulous Dental Consultant for whom I remain extremely grateful. Although I have regular dental treatment the residual ‘cell memory’ remains which causes the old but familiar physical reaction and feeling of dread.
Accounting and finance provokes a similar response! A fierce math’s teacher at primary school who was terrifying to a small child struggling with long division; a bully of a bank manager when I was a student who behaved as if he thought women should never have been given the vote and certainly not their own bank accounts. Both contributed to a firmly held belief that things mathematical and financial were beyond me. Evidence suggests that many people who choose nursing as a career do so because they believe it has nothing to do with figures! It was a good job that this was not my primary motivation as paediatrics requires a multitude of mathematical skills, from working out drug dosages (mistakes can be fatal) biochemistry and fluid balance requirements.
Successful completion of a doctorate with the appropriate level of statistical analysis has apparently not altered my life limiting belief. Therefore it was with a very familiar sense of overwhelming dread that I accepted an invitation to a finance module offered as part of my Heart of Business membership induction.
The module, led by an experienced Finance Director is planned around a personal assessment completed by the participants a couple of weeks beforehand. I filled in the spreadsheet honestly, trying not to cringe at all the boxes I ticked that said ‘help needed’ because I know that the first step to overcoming fear is to acknowledge it. I did wonder if the person reading it would tell me that I was a hopeless case!
The module, based on an anonymised case study used annual accounts to highlight and explain key issues that I needed help with. It was interesting, insightful and fascinating to understand the meaning behind the figures through discussion. I was able to ask questions without feeling foolish and more importantly have been able to apply what I learnt into my day job which is one of the main aims of the induction programme.
The common denominator in both these stories is the patience, understanding and passion for their profession demonstrated by the consultants together with my willingness to connect with my fear, to allow myself to be open to receiving. When fear is the primary driver, our brain is focused on our ‘flight, fight or freeze’ response so is unable to take in and use the information which others want to share and so we get in the way of our own learning. Want to find out more? Contact me on [email protected] or view my HEART of business profile.