The influence of dyslexic thinking on my life and work
My Dyslexia has been an open secret in the professional world for a while. It wasn’t until reading the work of Sir Richard Branson and Made by Dyslexia that I began to figure out the influence of Dyslexic Thinking on my personal and professional lives.
First, here’s a definition of Dyslexic Thinking from Dictionary.com:
An approach to problem-solving, assessing information, and learning, often used by people with Dyslexia, involves pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, lateral thinking, and interpersonal communication.
I’ve always thought through work challenges differently than my managers, co-workers, and clients. It got me into trouble a few times during my technical writer career, usually with insecure managers who felt threatened. I did have one manager who embraced my thinking and being a “step ahead” of him, and sometimes him being a “step ahead” of me became our form of collaboration.
As a writer, I’ve always enjoyed the article pitching process far more often than I should. I can now say that’s probably because of my dyslexic thinking more than anything else. To maintain quality in my work, I’ve developed a playbook using a self-editing checklist and process. Unlike many others with Dyslexia, words come easy to me.
There’s no award for deliberate complexity in my experience, so I was happy to learn that people with Dyslexia have an innate talent for simplifying things. When I encounter deliberate complexity, it’s usually for entirely the wrong reasons, such as building an unnatural dependency on a manager that was never adding much value to the project in the first place.
My biggest challenge with Dyslexic Thinking is separating it from cynicism. For example, there’ve been times, both professionally and personally, that I’ve gotten a bad feeling about a person or a situation and then talked myself out of it, leading me to get burned in the end. It was the wheels of my Dyslexic Thinking spinning the whole time. I’ve put much work into this challenge during the past few months.
Another challenge with Dyslexic Thinking for me is that I have to slow my mind down in times of crisis, such as an emergency at work. To somebody who doesn’t know me well or thrives on drama, I may come off as I don’t care when that’s far from the truth. Slowing my mind down in these situations sets the stage for my lateral thinking and pattern recognition to chart potential solutions to the project problem I’m facing.
One of the superpowers that Dylexic Thinking gives me is the ability to connect with personas and customer pain points. My Dyslexia enables me to take the time I spent on technology project teams, speaking to IT leaders for articles, and learning about their experiences with the cloud, DevOps, and enterprise mobility in the enterprise to heart.
Recently, I’ve been trying to bring Dyslexic Thinking slowly into my personal brand. It started by adding Dyslexic Thinking as a skill on my LinkedIn profile after Made by Dyslexia got the term added to the site.
Will Kelly is a product marketer and writer focused on DevOps and the cloud. His technology interests include enterprise mobility, collaboration tools, and remote work. He has written for TechTarget, Opensource.com, InfoQ, and others. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.