Dyslexia, Failure & Entrepreneurship – A Recipe For Success

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Entrepreneur Jeremy Foo explains why dyslexia can be a blessing in disguise for entrepreneurs (to-be) and how to turn a weakness into a strength!

Entrepreneurship is challenging. It requires determination, focus, intensity, passion. It’s a hard road to take and it can be paved with failures. Most people are not made to endure such conditions. But you’ll be surprised when I tell you there’s a “condition” that might help those who have it and once thought it was a “challenge” instead of a blessing.

If you are dyslexic or know someone who is, then you already know that the word challenge is in the very description of the condition. But, this so-called learning difficulty is for many people, including myself, a business advantage.

Entrepreneurship Comes With Failure

You’ve surely heard of Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver. They’re just two examples out of the many successful entrepreneurs who are dyslexic. Both of them are worth billions of dollars and are success stories that inspire millions.

However, they had to overcome not only the actual difficulties that come with dyslexia but also the frustrations of failing many times before making it in business. Little did they know that the condition itself might be one of the reasons that made them excel at problem-solving and focus on the wider picture rather than on the failure at hand. Dyslexics have to expect failure from an early age, so they learn to expect it and overcome it much faster than other people might.

Branson, for example, went through various failed attempts to grow and sell both Christmas trees and budgerigars before successfully launching his first magazine, Student, in 1966. A key factor for him not giving up on his dream was counting on the support of his parents, especially his mother who was also an entrepreneur. Like Richard, we all need a network of people who support our dreams.

Jamie Oliver, believe it or not, was only able to read his first entire novel (Catching Fire) in 2013, at the age of 38. This didn’t stop him from being one of the most successful British chefs, restaurateurs, and TV personalities. Since he was a child, he pursued his passion for cooking. His family’s support was key in allowing him to pursue his passion. Just like Branson, a support network and a passion for what he loves to do were key factors for his success.

Dyslexia was crucial in granting both of them, and many other entrepreneurs including me, immunity to failure and the ability to learn visually and see the bigger picture.

Turn A Weakness Into A Strength

Most educational systems around the world focus on grades and use them to measure and determine future job prospects and opportunities for students. Those of us who have dyslexia struggle to learn the most basic skills such as reading and writing. This challenge might hamper dreams and hinder success, but with the correct support and the right focus, this might become a strength too.

Dyslexics have difficulty communicating via the written word and suffer the “shame” of failure. However, once we come to realize that our brains are simply wired differently, we are able to do many things that others cannot, like having a more visual way of learning and being able to see multiple scenarios that might foresight company growth. This helps entrepreneurs entertain multiple business scenarios and consider a variety of points of view and imagine endless possibilities in business.

As I said earlier, dyslexics expect failure and learn to deal with it. This perspective is an advantage in the world of entrepreneurship. Similarly, people with dyslexia thrive in being the boss because that’s how our brains are wired to function.

The Role Of Creativity

Growing up with dyslexia forces us to learn to accommodate its challenges and overcome the failures it provokes. The abilities we develop because of the condition are likely the reason many dyslexics are able to become successful entrepreneurs.

In order to better overcome these difficulties, dyslexics tend to develop very creative brains that see opportunities and perspectives others might miss, thus helping us take charge and mold our work environment to our personal skillset.

This gift helps us be more creative in finding solutions to professional and personal problems, making it more natural to be flexible and adapt to any given scenario. This “disorder” certainly adds to the creativity involved in becoming an outstanding, more innovative entrepreneur.



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