Dyslexia is seen in the mainstream as a negative condition. Given the issues it raises for those with the reading disorder and how it affects them it’s easy enough to see why, but what happens to those with the condition and how does it shape them as they grow from children into adults?
Could the problems it creates for those with this difference actually be used in such a way to turn them into a series of advantages?
The Golden Rule – turning a weakness into a strength
For all entrepreneurs, turning a weakness into a strength is commonplace. So how do those with dyslexia turn what we see as their weaknesses into their strengths?
They already know about living in the face of adversity. They’ve had to learn how to adapt to learning as a bigger challenge than those around them, often needing additional support for basic tasks that the majority perform automatically.
The first step is to know the real differences between how those with dyslexia and those without the disorder operate. Running a business means the dyslexic either has to find a way to perform the same task by overcoming the disorder, or alternatively to find somebody else who can take on the task and resolve it for them.
Knowing the difference
The following are a few points into how the dyslexic can overcome an issue and turn it into a strength involved in operating a business.
Someone with dyslexia will often be a slow reader. They will have to learn to pick out the important areas of a text as efficiently as possible. This can give them an obvious edge in analysing information from a body of text, for what the important areas are straight away, instead of getting side-tracked and lost in the padding.
Those with dyslexia have also learned to think on their feet since day one. Overcoming problems that didn’t affect others meant implementing new systems and doing it quickly just to get by. Fast thinking problem solvers in business? They’re going to be the ones to get the job done.
Due to the nature of dyslexia being a reading and a writing disorder many of the current day to day ways of communicating become a hindrance to someone with the condition. In a world of email, online business networking, written correspondence, minutes, notes and memos; these can all cause extra work digesting and understanding a problem, brief, or the basis of the questions being asked.
For the dyslexic the tool to overcome many of these problems can be something as simple as a telephone call or a face-to-face meeting. A simple conversation will be their prime option.
Can you remember far back enough to when we used to have conversations? Before the days of texting, Messenger, WhatsApp, emails and a myriad of cloud based business team communication tools such as Slack, Bootcamp and more…? It’s all very easy to joke about but one simple phone call can outline everything needed to understand and garner immediate responses to an initial request. It’s in these areas someone with dyslexia can shine. They are often much better listeners because talking about the problems that need attention is far preferred to sifting through documents and letters that will cause the very problems they’re trying to avoid.
Asking the right questions
With heightened listening skills it gives those with dyslexia a far better understanding on what the problem really is, how to troubleshoot and problem solve it, and then ask for a response in whether the solution is likely to be an appropriate one.
By becoming better face-to-face communicators (or via telephone) this will build better relationships with clients and suppliers alike. By utilising real conversations over messaging and mail you are building personal relationships in business. These are truly important because people buy from people. Consumers will often buy the person over the product or service. In a world where there isn’t often much difference between a selection of products it can often boil down to who you trust and just as importantly, who you like.
Being more persistent
Growing up with a reading disorder will have given the dyslexic additional challenges to someone of a standard level of reading. They will have been challenged into different ways of learning that could often be more frustrating, more time consuming and inevitably upsetting to a child surrounded by children who glide through the same process without issue. For those who overcome the challenge, not only in that one area but over and over again, it will have ingrained a persistency, and a second nature to not give up when things get hard. Again, a great tool for the entrepreneur. It’s a must if we’re being honest.
Going back to how someone with dyslexia handles themself through their school years, adding additional pressures to studying, taking tests and exams, soaking up information and regurgitating it out onto paper, the whole system seems stacked against them. It makes gaining good and acceptable grades more difficult. The first few knocks will be disheartening at having to work so much harder given the same time constraints and allowances as other students, only to find that the chances of achieving the same results will be a far greater challenge. Learning to handle the constant disappointments of lagging behind and not achieving the same results of others, the dyslexic starts to learn to become comfortable with failure, at least in their own eyes, and being able to adjust and deal with this personal disappointment also makes it easier to face other situations where failure is inevitable; and even when it isn’t, it would instil in them an ability to bounce back much faster, to re-asses and succeed on the second, third or fourth attempt. How many of us would give up at the first hurdle? Certainly not the successful entrepreneur.
Another result of often being segregated or isolated from typical students could cause someone with dyslexia to create their own safe space. A world where they would be comfortable in themselves despite their differences. Being an entrepreneur will often require that same way of thinking; an insular mind-set, away from the mainstream, coming up with forward and different ways of thinking.
Knowing your weaknesses and learning to delegate
Having had so-called weakness pointed out since childhood they will have had to get used to not only understanding but also accepting why they are different and how to cope accordingly. Being able to understand these differences can open them up to seeing other differences, often unassociated to their disorder, and not as a weakness but simply as another problem to overcome.
Spotting our own weaknesses makes it easier to see them as a strength that others posses. Putting a team together means choosing those that have supporting strengths. Delegating tasks to those who will excel becomes its own strength instead of the previous view of a lack of ability, and by learning to trust other staff members are there to help achieve your goals creates better and more positive working relationships – and they’re the foundation of any good business.
Given around four or five per cent of society will experience dyslexia it’s no surprise that many of our high achievers in business have had to not only overcome it but also excel from what it has taught them. They have learned how to keep striving for better not because of it but in spite of it. We can all learn something from those who have excelled in such a manner, and admire them for what appears to be doubling up on their achievements.