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Stories by successful dyslexics who IDC have helped over the years
JXL, Partner in a
City Law Firm
I just did not get
why I did not get it. I was interested,
motivated but when I tore open my exam results envelope that one CSE Grade 1 in
History stared out at me, it was clear that I had severely under-achieved and I
did not understand why. It took me a
further three years to secure five O'levels taking two or three at a time but
miracles of miracles at one sitting, three A'Levels, and good ones at that.
The thing is, I am
now a Partner at a City law firm in London, a fairly well respected
international lawyer and until this year, I didn't really know for sure whether
I was a dyslexic or not. I have learned
strategies and tactics for dealing with not being able to remember things, or
not seeing obvious connections. I
mind-mapped, I dictated, I spell checked, I used time management principles. I now have a name for my issue – and that
name was inefficiency which was, for me, dyslexia's alter ego! Within myself, I have kind of always known I
was dyslexic, but when I was growing up dyslexia was commonly known as
"word blindness" and I certainly didn't have "word
blindness"; I could look at a page and see all the words… but the repeated
mantra from teachers that I was slow, that I was incapable of grasping the
simplest facts, troubled me because it didn't ring true in my own mind.
As the years have
passed, a career that had seen me pass through the Foreign Office as an
economist, British Telecom as a public relations officer and latterly as a
competition analyst, I landed in the law surrounded by millions of words, with
complex drafting and even more complex negotiations. My academics have improved since that CSE Grade
1. I have undergraduate degrees in Law
and Economics and an MA in Political Economics and also a smattering of
professional qualifications. My results
improved over the years by using better methods of learning. I found I could retain more by recording and
listening to my lecturers. Using a
Picasso-like palate of colours for my revision notes and becoming familiar with
the format of the exams, to the extent of visiting the examination hall in
advance, helped me take the mystery out of exams and allowed me to focus on
recalling information. I found closing
my eyes and visualising my notes helped.
Result? Well my results just got
better and better!
After six years as
a lawyer I was elected to the partnership.
My career was not prejudiced.
Having to deal with a mind that often couldn't remember the finer detail
without prompting, I became an incurable scribbler, a taker of notes, writing
bits of information on anything I could find to hand. I grasped the whole concept of mind-mapping
again, I revisited it after 20 years and found when mapping out a deal by
drawing pictures, and as a marine lawyer I have become quite adept at drawing
boats, I could find connections between concepts which hitherto were
unforeseen. I could argue a legal point
in a way that hadn't been argued before, I could draft clauses in fresh new
ways partly because I wasn't constrained by the normal thought processes. I wasn't a details man – I was a big picture
man but as a big picture lawyer, I could cut through the legal nonsense and get
to the heart of the deal.
I relied very
heavily on digital dictation and my long suffering but ever reliable secretary,
Jayne, recognised pretty early my inability to remember things and organise
things hence without a first rate PA to do the things that I couldn't be relied
upon to remember to do, she allowed me to focus on my real skills. I also am a gadget fiend – anything that can
get me to add colour and vision to my work I grab with both hands. I try not to have a regimented day – I start
my day when I feel I need to start my day and end it when I am exhausted. I don't make work a task, work is just
something else I do in my day in between listening to the radio and watching
films!! By turning work into something
which is not a task or a barrier, I became much better at the job I did.
However, this is
not to say I have not failed spectacularly several times before now! I didn't know I was dyslexic and hit brick
walls. When faced with brick walls, you
find ways out of necessity to deal with that wall. I tried to smash walls down by ignoring the
problem (huge mistake and personal failure resulted), I tried to ignore the
problem (again, huge mistake and more personal failure). Eventually, I knocked a few bricks out of the
wall, i.e. the issues I could deal with and installed a door through which I
wander freely. The wall of dyslexia is
still there but I have a door which takes me through it.
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