CEOs With Learning Disabilities – Stop Letting Labels Hold You Back
What do Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Barbara Corcoran have in common? Besides being some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, they are all CEOs with learning disabilities.
And they are not the only ones. A study by Cass Business School shows 35 percent of entrepreneurs suffer from Dyslexia, and that is just one learning disability.
How Labels Hold Down the Next Generation of Business Owners
I also fall in the group of CEOs with learning disabilities. It is why I have such a big issue with labeling children with these learning disabilities – it makes them feel like they cannot achieve what a “normal” kid can.
The labels we put on our children actually end up hurting their development more than the disabilities they supposedly have.
Now, I am proud of my two years at Harvard medical school. It is the best medical school on the planet. I loved that they were getting away from putting labels on people.
Unfortunately, the broader medical industry has become obsessed with labels. It is one of the reasons I left medicine.
These labels often turn advantages into disadvantages. They also give people an excuse to limit their expectations.
Some Common Learning Disabilities ( And Why They Are Wrong)
ADHD is the most-diagnosed learning disability in children. Doctors tell parents their children’s brain is screwed up because they can’t pay attention. They put the children on expensive drugs with tons of side effects. I do not think ADHD is a learning disability.
There is no “ADHD”. These kids just have brains that work faster than others. They switch between stimuli quicker, which is a huge advantage when used correctly. Attention issues do not mean a kid has a learning disability.
Another common learning disability is Dyslexia, which is when people get the order of things wrong. A lot of these kids have brains that process information faster than they can write. I feel like I have had Dyslexia my whole life. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. My ability to process information quickly is an advantage.
Do not forget – 35 percent of CEOs have dyslexia!
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects handwriting. Give me a break. Thank God no one told me about Dysgraphia as a kid, because maybe I would have thought I was too stupid to start a business.
One I just learned about recently is Dyscalculia, which is a struggle to do math. Not every kid has to be good at math! Maybe they are an artist.
Learning Disabilities are Learning Advantages
If you have been diagnosed with a learning disability, you need to change your mindset towards your “condition”. You don’t actually have a disability. All you need to do is learn how to harness the differences in your brain chemistry to achieve things “regular” people cannot. Make a commitment to working harder than everyone else.
If I did not have all the learning disabilities mentioned above, I would not be a successful entrepreneur with six businesses.
Many of you do not know I dropped out of high school when I was 16. I also started my first business at 16. My grades were not bad because I had a disability. It was because I did not like to study.
I went back to school years later and got a 4.0 GPA. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I went on to Harvard Medical School. Our education is created for the middle 40 percent of society. We are not good at educating the top or bottom. This needs to change if we want to develop our best and brightest.
We all develop differently. That is what makes each of us a beautiful, unique human being. If we label our kids with learning disabilities, we send them a message that they are less than their peers. Instead, let us teach them strategies to use these gifts.
I had a basketball coach in college who helped me see the importance of this. He told me I was the worst on the team because I was too smart and my brain was moving too fast. When I stopped overthinking everything on the court, I became the second-best player on the team.
Turn Your Learning Disabilities into Learning Advantages Today
If you want to join the ranks of successful CEOs with learning disabilities, start treating your learning disability as a learning advantage today. Schedule a business coaching consultation with me to learn how I achieved this shift in mindset and how you can too.
If you have a question about the relationship between learning disabilities and entrepreneurship, leave your question in a comment and I’ll respond to it personally.