‘If I wasn’t dyslexic, I probably wouldn’t have won the Games. If I had been a better reader, then that would have come easily, sports would have come easily… and I never would have realized that the way you get ahead in life is hard work.’
Bruce Jenner winning the gold medal for decathlon in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics
I often read articles that talk about how successful Dyslexics owe much of their achievement to their resolve and persistence developed over years of struggling with their learning issues.
Okay, fair enough. Dealing with Dyslexia can definitely make you strong, resilient and determined. Trying to navigate through school systems that don’t teach subjects such as spelling, reading and arithmetic in a way that makes sense to a Dyslexic or right-brain student can be confusing, frustrating, humiliating and frightening.
Many Dyslexics don’t make it and will drop out of school, have to settle for lower paying jobs in sectors that don’t require much reading or writing or even end up in prison or on welfare.
Those that are fortunate enough to have lots of support from home and are tenacious with Teflon coated skins will become tough and very adaptable. They will constantly be compensating for areas they are weak in to overcome their Dyslexic issues and work harder than the average person to get through university, training colleges and hold down a job. They will often go out of their way to hide their Dyslexia and cleverly manage areas of their lives they can’t resolve.
For example, many Dyslexics are entrepreneurs, top level executives or managers and will have an assistant or staff who handle all their written work and reading. The people they choose to have around them will generally be discreet about their boss’ issues and very accommodating.
Actors will have someone read their lines to them, star athletes will have plays or strategies demonstrated to them visually or physically but not written down, architects or engineers work with visual three dimensional computer programs such as CAD systems and many Dyslexics rely on using computers and digital devices to do their written work and check their spelling! Also many computer programs use visuals extensively. Every Dyslexic or strongly right-brained person I know who has a Mac loves them due to its heavy emphasis on visual information and intuitive common sense instructions.
So yes, part of their success is due to a lifetime of trying very hard. But there is another element that makes their “trying very hard” successful. Lots of people can try hard but have limited success. Dyslexics and right brain thinkers have a huge advantage; the “right brain” thinks in the “big picture” and is all about problem solving. Dyslexics are the definition of thinking outside the box and multi-tasking. So their success is due to a tough background and an analytical and tactical nature that is one of the greatest gifts of Dyslexia.
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online