Richard goes so far as to attribute at least part of his success to the fact that he has dyslexia. People with dyslexia have average or above average IQs – they are the same as everybody else. Yet 20% of British entrepreneurs and 35% of US entrepreneurs are dyslexic. It’s thought that the reason for this is that dyslexics develop certain strengths and skills to compensate for their learning difficulties. Here’s a low-down of those strengths:
1. Ability to clearly communicate a vision
Dyslexic leaders communicate their ideas to others verbally, through pictures, or through demonstration and examples rather than by sharing written documents. We all learn and process information in a range of ways – by listening, seeing, and doing as well as by reading. Because dyslexics use a range of communication techniques their employees can better understand them.
Richard Branson tells the story of the day somebody in his company discovered he didn’t understand the difference between ‘net’ and ‘gross’. The man took out a crayon and drew a picture of fish in a net, surrounded by fish in the sea. He explained that the fish in the net were the net profit. Now the difference between ‘net’ and ‘gross’ is ingrained in Richard’s mind.
2. Innovation and problem solving
Those with dyslexia learn to develop their own ways of doing things to compensate for their difficulties with reading and writing. Dyslexics are used to solving problems and finding creative, imaginative solutions. Where others might see a barrier, a person with dyslexia can often see another way.
Innovation is the lifeblood of a successful company. In Richard Branson’s words, ‘A company is creating a product that makes a difference to people’s lives’. Your product idea must be visionary and superior to anything your competitors have designed.
3. Resilience and determination
Failing academically can make children determined to prove themselves and make a success of their lives – this is true of dyslexics and non-dyslexics alike.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Richard Branson has had his fair share of ups and downs; the resilience and determination he learnt in his early life has been an invaluable asset. In 1992 Virgin was struggling financially and had to be sold to Thorn EMI. Although crushed by the loss Richard was determined to stay in the music industry and went on to found Virgin Radio which now hosts the Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show.
4. Seeing the bigger picture
In business, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind. When decisions are made, future consequences must be considered. Current goals are always drawn up with long-term goals and the emerging needs of the marketplace in mind. People with dyslexia tend to see things holistically. They don’t see the grass but they see the field.
‘It’s as if people with dyslexia tend to use a wide-angle lens to take in the world, while others tend to use a telephoto, each is best at revealing different kinds of detail.’ Matthew H. Schneps, Harvard University
5. Strong interpersonal skills
Due to their academic difficulties dyslexics can show more empathy and understanding of other people’s struggles – they tend to be ‘people friendly’.
At school, Richard Branson was captain of both the cricket and the football team. Although he wasn’t developing his academic skills to any outstanding degree, Richard was busy honing the leadership skills he would need in later life. Richard was learning to pick the right people, to listen to them, to communicate his thoughts, and to motivate everyone to work together to succeed.
Richard Branson believes it’s important for children with dyslexia to understand that if they follow what they are good at with determination and passion then they will succeed.
In fact, he thinks that managing dyslexia enables children to develop skills and strengths that actually equip them for success!
‘I seemed to think in a different way… I was very focused on trying to set up a business and create something. My dyslexia guided the way we communicated with customers.’ Richard Branson
At Count Out Dyslexia we work to your child’s strengths, building their self-confidence and fostering a determination to succeed. If you would like to find an experienced tutor who can nurture and support your child please get in touch with us today.