Overcoming dyslexia

Don’t despair, overcoming dyslexia is possible!

Scrabble tiles spelling Dyslexia

Dyslexia can make reading and writing a real problem

Many people think overcoming dyslexia is almost impossible, and they’re ready to throw in the towel almost before the fight’s begun. But you needn’t let this so-called ‘disability’ define you, or reduce your chances of sucess. History abounds with success stories of dyslexic people who have gone on to great achievements regardless.

There have been great business leaders, outstanding artists, world statesmen, and people known the world over as great entertainers, and they’ve all had trouble reading and writing, to some extent. Still, they spent time overcoming dyslexia and it paid off.

Some of them you may well be aware of as being dyslexic, and some will surprise you. But the thing to keep in mind is that they all had the difficulties all dyslexics have with words and with communication generally. Still, they pursued their dream, and they made it!

The business world and dyslexia

Some people, for example, let dyslexia rule out any hope of business success. Actually, if you’re dyslexic and you fancy yourself as a business guru, you’re in good company. Here’s a few business leaders who made it, regardess of their ‘disability’.

Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson, wildly successful, partly through overcoming dyslexia

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the vast Virgin empire

Sir Richard Branson is dyslexic and couldn’t tell you one end of a balance sheet from the other. It hasn’t put much of a crimp in his unique and very successful business style. He appears to be doing quite well, actually.

At the last count, his worldwide business empire included over 350 companies in 34 countries, who together employ over 50,000 people. Virgin is renowned for value for money, innovation, fun, quality, and competitiveness.

I get the impression he’s not letting his ‘disorder’ get in his way too much.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Henry Ford, 1863-1947,
industrialist, innovator

Henry Ford was dyslexic, and used that as a springboard to fine-tune his other abilities. He would repeat certain actions till they became like clockwork in his efforts at overcoming dyslexia.

Later, he transformed industry worldwide by introducing the idea of the assembly line, which sprang from his own experiences (some sources cite Eli Olds with the original idea, and say that Ford implemented it).

He was quite successful too. Even today, 150 years after Ford was born, you might still see a few cars on the road bearing his name.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011,
Father of the Digital Revolution.

Steve Jobs has been described as a ‘visionary’, ‘legendary’ in the industry, a ‘futurist’ and ‘the Father of the Digital Revolution’. He brought us the Apple Mac, the iPhone, the iPad, etc, the computer mouse, and on and on and on …

He also bought Pixar and that produced gems such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Monster Inc. and many more.

He died quite young, but his achievements changed the way we live. Oh, and he had dyslexia.

Politics and dyslexia

Some people with ideas of entering politics could easily be put off by having dyslexia. The thought of all that debating and all that paperwork could easily dissuade anyone. Some people, however, thought they’d give it a shot anyway. And sometimes, to be fair, they did quite well.

Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson Rockefeller, 1908-79, statesman and philanthropist

Nelson Rockefeller was thought to be ‘backward’ as a child (before he started overcoming dyslexia). He didn’t know the alphabet and his grades were average. He went on to become Vice President to President Gerald Ford and also Governor of New York. He also served in the administrations of Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.

He was also President of the Rockefeller Center, Inc., and promoted public access to the arts. Seems he didn’t really let his dyslexia hold him back too much.

George Washington

George Washington

George Washington,
1732-1799, first President
of the United States

George Washington was dyslexic. Didn’t stop him becoming the first President of the United States! He presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution, which is still the supreme law of the United States to this day.

Even today, he is still widely regarded as the ‘father’ of the country.

His writing left a lot to be desired, but he managed, somehow, to make himself understood. Well enough, in fact, to transform a nation.

Sir Winston Churchill

Overcoming dyslexia and the fact that he hated school helped Winston Churchill become successful

Sir Winston Churchill,
1874-1965, British Prime Minister during World War II

Sir Winston Churchill hated school. He didn’t do well at his studies. He went on achieve some level of success, however. You may have heard of him in relation to World War II, in which he played a part.

He masterminded the fight for survival against the Nazi regime, and boosted the morale of the nation with his tremendous speeches. Still widely regarded as the Greatest Briton Ever.

It’s worth noting, though, that some sources say that Churchill played up any academic problems he had to make his successes seem even greater, considering what he had to overcome.

Science and Invention and dyslexia

If you’re feeling creative and you think you could even invent some new gadget, or develop an existing one, being dyslexic could easily put you off. Don’t let it. Some people went down that road regardless of their dyslexia, and still managed to be quite successful. Here are just a few …

Thomas Edison

Overcoming dyslexia helped Thomas Edison become a legend in inventing

Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, one of the greatest of all inventors

Thomas Edison didn’t have a lot going for him. He suffered deafness, probably as a result of a bout of scarlet fever as a child. Needless to say, this made it difficult for him to communicate.

He was hopeless at mathematics and couldn’t even read particularly well. He wasn’t well co-ordinated and no good at sports. He paid no attention in school, and seemed unable to focus. However, once something caught his attention it was a different matter altogether. His focus was laser-like then and he had a remarkable tenacity. Some of his inventions came after countless ‘failures’ that were, in his eyes, only steps closer to what he was seeking.

“If we did all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …” ~ Thomas Edison

He worked tirelessly at inventing, and the world today is thankful that he did. His inventions helped spawn the radio and television industries, not to mention musical recording. He didn’t waste too much time in an attempt at overcoming dyslexia, he was too busy creating inventions that would redefine the way we live.

He gave light to the world, and brought nations together with improved communications. He was instrumental in the development of the typewriter, the motor car and the train, and the list goes on and on. In fact, he had well over 2,000 patents to his name!

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell,  1847-1922, trailblazer for the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell,
1847-1922, trailblazer for the telephone.

Determined not to let his dyslexia stand in his way, Alexander Graham Bell was working on a device to help deaf people hear, since he was very concerned with the problem (his mother was going deaf).

He got sidetracked and managed to come up with something quite useful anyway. He’s quite well known as as one of the founders of the National Geographic society.

Oh, and also for that device he had a part in inventing … the telephone. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, genius of the Renaissance , although dyslexic

Leonardo da Vinci, genius of the Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci was quite an inventor too. Not content with just being outstandingly successful as a painter, a sculptor, a mathematician, an engineer, an architect, and all the rest of his amazing achievements, he went on to devise some incredible inventions that were, in some instances, centuries ahead of their time.

This, despite having writing problems that meant that he did a sort of ‘mirror writing’ that was almost indecipherable. I think it’s true to say that despite his dyslexia, he became quite accomplished in certain areas.

Whether he spent time in an attempt at overcoming dyslexia nobody can say. What we can say is he just got on with creating the ideas he had in his mind, and bringing them into reality.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, physics genius, learned that overcoming dyslexia would help him in his work

Albert Einstein, towering physics genius, and yet dyslexic

Albert Einstein, one of the towering intellects of the twentieth century, always had difficulties with the most mundane of things. Barely able to tie his shoelaces properly, he still had the creativity to come up with the theory of relativity that would ultimately transform physics, and our understanding of the laws of the Universe.

He would stick doggedly to a task until he had the answer, and he applied his imagination to questions that others didn’t even think to ask.

His ideas changed the world for all of us.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

The entertainment world and dyslexia

Think your dyslexia rules you out of the performing arts? Think again! Among the many who went on to great success in this area are the following …

George Burns, who had one of the longest careers in show business ever, still performing up to a few years before his death at age 100.

Cher, who left school early, due to her dyslexia. She pursued her dream and became a world famous entertainer.

Henry Winkler, best known as the Fonz, only realised he was dyslexic during the filming of a documentary on the condition.

Walt Disney had reading difficulties due to his dyslexia, but went on to found an entire genre in film, and practically an entire industry.

Tom Cruise, phenomenally talented and successful, has to learn his lines listening to a recording, since his reading is not up to par. He didn’t let that little problem stand it his way, apparently.

Agatha Christie, author of more than sixty crime and detective novels (as well as several romances and numerous short stories) had to dictate her work, since she had trouble writing. She also wrote The Mousetrap, the world’s longest running play, which is still being performed in London after 60 years and more than 25,000 performances.

She is the most successful novelist of all time, her works having sold approximately 4 billion copies in over 100 languages. Not bad for a woman with dyslexia whose first novel was rejected by the publisher.

The clear message is this: don’t let dyslexia, or any other so-called ‘disability’, prevent you from doing what you want to do, or being who you really are. Give it your best shot anyway, even if you think you might not become a world-class inventor, or a captain of industry, or a movie star.

but you’ll never know if you don’t try!

What? Oh, you think I just cherry-picked a few exceptional high achievers to show that dyslexics can be successful? Okay, here’s a few more (and, believe me, there are plenty to choose from):

Billy Bob Thornton, Keanu Reeves, Muhammad Ali, Michael Faraday, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Nigel Kennedy, General Patton, Thomas Jefferson, Ted Turner, FW Woolworth, Hans Christian Andersen, F Scott Fitzgerald, WB Yeats, Babe Ruth,Steven Spielberg, Wernher von Braun, Fred Astaire, Billy Connolly, Anthony Hopkins, Eddie Izzard, Jay Leno, Will Smith, Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins, Britney Spears, Lyndon Johnson, Michelangelo, Picasso, Van Gogh, Tommy Hilfiger, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Magic Johnson

Whose name will be added to the list next?

Will it be yours??


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