MY STORY - WHY I LOVE NUMBERS
I loved playing backyard sports, in particular cricket and tennis. I loved playing these sports because I had wonderful hand to eye co-ordination. I would practice against the wall for hours on end.
I loved the challenge of trying to beat my best score of hits against the wall without missing. Every day I would practice until I beat my best score from the day before. I would often practise until night time. My goal was to continue to raise my personal best-score.
Every time I did I felt a sense of achievement and pride.
On the school holidays I would invite my friends over and we would play tennis tournaments or cricket matches. Our cricket matches became known as “the averages” as I kept scores of all of our matches and updated my statistics book daily. My favourite part was at the end of the day when I would re-calculate everyone’s averages and announce them as the daylight began to quickly fade.
What was my average batting score for today?
Was it better than my average from yesterday?
What is my all-time best average for a day?
These were the common questions that each of my friends would ask me at the end of the day. I would flick through my book of averages to find the answers. I loved the fact that I had the answers. I loved the fact that I could help them understand how they had performed on the day.
My love of numbers also extended to the TV Room. I loved summer holidays because I could watch cricket. Some days it was all I did. I loved watching the one-day internationals. Not only did I watch the cricket, but I tracked the progress of how the team batting second was compared to the team that batted first.
I wanted to know who was in front at the half-way mark.
I wanted to know if the average run-rate of the team batting second was better than the team batting first.
I wanted to be able to tell my family and friends who was in front and why I had come to that conclusion.
In my first year of high school, I remember a specific day when the teacher went around the class room asking every student what they wanted to be. As a 12-year-old I had never thought about my future much past the fact that I loved playing cricket. So, when I came to my turn I said without hesitation “I am going to play cricket for Australia”. I remember the teacher looking at me thinking, “that’s a big call Rob”, but I also remember a couple of my friends saying “he is a pretty good batsman”.
I went home that night and told my parents proudly what I wanted to be. Their response was pretty measured. You need to pick a job as well as a sport. I remember feeling confused with their response.
Why do I need two things?
This conversation got my parents thinking about what I could do when I left school. My parents had noticed my really good maths grades and they also knew how much I loved keeping scores and statistics in backyard cricket matches.
They thought my love of numbers might be handy in the accounting profession.
A couple of years had passed since my “declaration of profession”. One night, I remember being summoned to the dinner table. It was the night our family accountant was over to do Dad’s tax return. It wasn’t long after I sat down at the table when I was asked by my parents…
“How would you like to spend a week doing work experience with our accountant?”
Okay I said…but I knew nothing about accounting as I had never thought about selecting it as a subject in school.
Over the week of work experience I went to a lot of meetings with the accountant and drank plenty of coffee. I really enjoyed drinking coffee so maybe that was why I enjoyed the week’s work experience.
I didn’t learn a lot about accounting but I do remember meeting a lot of people who had interesting stories to tell. And so began my experience of helping people find their story behind the numbers.
Numbers are all around us and impact our decision making on a daily basis. Whether you are reviewing your personal situation, or working in an organisation, it’s important to understand your numbers.
Staring at lots of numbers is boring to most people. Understanding the story behind the numbers is what is important.