I was recently given the opportunity to work with a young man who is applying to get into veterinary school to become a large animal vet. He came to me because he had a “challenge” and “hoped” I could help him word his application so “a school might take a chance” on him. The thing holding him back – he is “badly dyslexic”.
Dyslexia runs in my family and I have a very mild form of it myself so I thought I had a good understand of it. Like my client, and most people, I thought having dyslexia was a thing to be overcome or worked around. Over the course of the two months I spent working with this client and researching dyslexia, I have learned it is actually the exact opposite. Dyslexics are AMAZING problem solvers because they don’t just think outside the box; they don’t realize there is a box.
With permission I am sharing a short essay my client and I put together to include with his application. There are many examples and stories we had to edit out to meet the stringent word count. The truth can still be heard, loud and clear:
“I am dyslexic. I used to think it was a liability; that someone had to “take a chance on me” to give me a job or “let” me into school. I no longer believe that. Here’s why:
I am one of eight siblings. All of us have dyslexia. All of us are great problem solvers. I always thought my ability to see “easy” solutions to problems was just a luck-of-the-draw talent I happened to have; just like dyslexia was bad-luck-of-the-draw. Then I learned about studies that suggested dyslexia is an indicator of being a big-picture thinker and problem solver and I started to do some research.
I found an article by Blake Charlton who wrote about the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation Conference on Dyslexia and Talent and shared studies that indicate the dyslexic brain has exceptional three-dimensional and spatial reasoning and heightened creativity. Then I found a video that explained how a “normal” brain categorizes information into organized solos. The dyslexic brain has more of a file-pile system, making specific information more challenging to find but also making it MUCH easier to notice and make connections between bits of information. Finally, I found DyslexicAdvantage.com with videos of other dyslexic adults talking about how their ability to think differently made them successful.
My oldest brother was told he is great at thinking outside the box. His response, “What box?” That is exactly how I observe and address problems every day in my work as a producer. I don’t even realize there is a box in which I “should” look for the solution.
I am sharing this information with you because I don’t want you to “give me a chance.” It is not a risk to take me into your program. Mature, adult students like me don’t “fail out”. Sure the studies will be hard; they are for all students. The only question is which school is going to recognize the diverse contribution I bring to the classroom and become the foundation to my success story when I get to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.”
I encourage you to think about how you measure ability. If you are using a process that relies on the ability to read and write effectively you are eliminating people who would be your best problem solvers. If you want new, different, better ideas you need someone who thinks differently. And for that you need someone with a brain that is wired differently.
As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!
PS - If you are interested in working with a coach, I'd be happy to have a conversation with you to discuss how I can support your success. All you have to do is ask.
Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known motivational speaker, executive coach and corporate trainer. As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence by sharing active leadership, powerful teamwork, conscious communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills. She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time. To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, please call 302-307-3091 or email her at DocRobyn@ChampPerformance.com.