You can’t make a fish climb a tree!

You can’t make a fish climb a tree!

Dyslexia and the role it pays in peoples lives and in the educational system has for a long time been a topic of interest with many people. I agree whole heartedly with the belief that our current system of education is outdated in the way it teaches young people and in particular how it spends time using techniques that are not useful to people who are dyslexic.

I remember my school years very well. It did’t take them very long to label me as lazy and lacking attention. I remember being 14 and being told that I would never amount to anything, fortunately they got it wrong. While there were many who were quick to dismiss me, there were teachers and people on my journey I will always appreciate for believeing in me, however they were neither supported or equipped enough to a degree that could enable them to help me.

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Thankfully it got easier when I discovered a point where I was able to reason my thinking rather than accepting the orders to sit quietly and follow the rules. Not everyone is always as fortunate as me as they don’t reach that point and are made to feel they aren’t worth anything because they struggle to pass exams.

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For the first time, in recent years, I can start to see movement in the way the world works. Fish like me are receiving the support and social acceptance we need to swim freely, instead of being forced to prove our worth by wasting energy climbing trees.
Businesses are finally starting to tune in to a fundamental message; products, services and experiences built by, designed around, or managed by those in the world who know their way around a spreadsheet or  20,000 word plan written in a perfectly formatted style are not necessarily the people who make the company stand out and be noticed. If anything, they are too dull! Now I’m not saying dyslexic people are typically better, but more that they see the world in very different ways. Rather than tell you that the bottom line figure is £2,894.60 or recite the intricacies of management theory on the topic of staff resource levelling, they are more likely to show you from a completely different perspective how the workings of your operation fit together or how your brand appears to a wider audience than you have been able to focus on so far.

There is speculation that anywhere up to 60% of the people in America who refer to themselves as Entrepreneurs are dyslexic. This leads me to the key thought that there is no connection between someones ability to spell and innovating any better than anyone else in a room. In fact being dyslexic may even help you do it.

So what does this changing horizon mean? Will dyslexics rule the world? Will there be an uprising? If you go by the fact that I just had to look up how to spell militia then we would certainly be the less organised of armies and our propaganda will be in picture form.

Instead of all out war, I believe there will be a change in the way people and businesses communicate, playing into the skill sets of dyslexic people. I believe written skills will decline and creative skills will become the elements that start to be truly value adding. What do I mean by that? Well, for starters people who can can communicate to the world through drawing are more quickly understood; people who can stand up and share an allegory of why something is best can be better heard; and those who have the ability to express themselves visually will are seen by more. All of those are skills that are aligned and at many times skewed in the direction of dyslexics. They also play amazingly into the ways technology has and is changing how we share information.

So why entrepreneurship? Again I think being dyslexic sets people up in a way of life that helps with this! Perhaps this is a by-product of the school system as well. Creativity comes from the grey area where there often isn’t someone telling you what to do. People who have spent their lives in a slightly separate space, where they haven’t fit the mould and actively run in the other direction when people have told them to sit still and read, have by their very approach to life learnt alternative ways of getting by. Mine was talking. To this day I can stand and speak for an hour and be heard and understood. To then turn to a keyboard and show that knowledge as a written medium on the other hand? I would never do my words justice.
Richard Branson once said in an interview about being dyslexic “a company is a product that makes a difference to other peoples’ lives – it doesn’t matter how you get to that point.” That is the vital element here I think of why entrepreneurship is such a home for innovators who are dyslexic. Partly because you make your own rules up as to the what and how of your work, but also because of that “making it happen” element of the way our minds work. Fixing and completing compared to refining and perfecting allow for the timescales to fit the mindset and for these innovators to get things to customers, learn and adapt as they always have.

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There are many theories around dyslexia and which element of the brain is the stronger, but the ones that have stuck with me are the M.I.N.D Strengths:

M – Material Reasoning

This is the ability to reason the physical world very quickly. The dyslexic mind is therefore faster than most at assessing elements such as speed, direction, size, shape or position. Sounds like a very capable engineer or operational manager to me!

I – Interconnected Reasoning

This is the ability to spot connections. This could be in the physical word and be seen as being able to take a holistic view of a supply chain, or it could be in relationships – therefore one of the best sales skills you have ever employed. This is also a very good space for people who are in need of comparison or review as part of a journey for change due to the spacial and time based elements of this strength.

N – Narrative Reasoning

There has never been a better way to sell your product than to tell a story that people connect with and find themselves wanting to buy from you. We also use stories as a basic human binding element, where we encourage or find joint solace at times of need through shared experiences.

D – Dynamic Reasoning

The ability to reconnect elements of information from the past or recreate elements in order to predict future events. It’s fair to say that the approach of entrepreneurs in relation to risk very much fit this mould. The ability to take on board information, learn and calculate and make a ‘next step decision’ is vital and a key attribute of the way the dyslexic mind works.

A quick word about Dyslexia.

All of the quotes on this blog are written in a font that is designed around the basic principles that humans don’t see things in the strict and uniformed ways we have evolved over recent years. I urge everyone to buy the font from here and make sure that if you want people to see you and your product, there is probably a very large group of them who are dyslexic and would benefit from this font.
If you would like to know more about how a dyslexic can help your business or would be keen to know more about how you can bring out the innovation in your existing team, then reach out to me and the team at Matter and let us now what your doing or thinking of doing in this space.
One final thought! Next time someone sends you an email and has written that there computer isn’t working or that they want to here you speak some more on a topic. Don’t write them off as stupid or incapable, encourage them to show their worth in other ways and you may well be surprised to realise they are one of your cleverest members of staff and will be the catalyst that takes your business into an all together higher level of success, because after all, they are just a fish trying to climb a tree.
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About James Loft