Imagine there were two kids, two brothers. One was a straight A student and straight shooter. The other was a slow reader and a bit of a recluse.

Who do you think would be more successful? Who would you hire?

If you wanted an employee who was taught to sit still, raise their hand, and not to ask questions you’d get me. You’d get the kind of kid parents and school principles – and managers – love. I followed the rules, I got the grades, and I fell in line. I did what I was supposed to do; nothing more, nothing less. The old me would never have done anything great, but I would have been great at being mediocre.

If you chose the rambunctious recluse, you’d get my brother Anthony; the kind of kid that gave parents and principles nightmares. But, he’s the person that start-up CEOs, innovators, and creatives love.

The kid never relied on someone else to teach him. He couldn’t, a mix of ADHD and dyslexia made it hard for him to focus and even more difficult for him to sit still. Teachers thought he wasn’t applying himself. Turns out, the teachers weren’t applying themselves. But, he didn’t need them.

I’m not here to bash education or intelligence. It’s just someone stepping in to say; Go ahead and be different

This coming from someone who lived according to the status quo, and found out first hand that it was a crock. Then, my different and unruly little brother challenged my perception of the world. Instead of trying to fit in, he set out to make his own way. Thankfully, he brought me with him. 

You can follow his lead too.

Stop worrying about what other people are saying or doing. Create a life true to who you are, what you believe, and how you learn. Use your perceived disadvantages as motivation to get better. There are countless artists and entrepreneurs who were different and elected to go their own way.

As it turns out Dyslexia is actually prevalent among millionaires. Research shows that dyslexics have higher levels of spatial intelligence, and that they can also succeed as entrepreneurs, because they are used to doing things their own way. They are used to working around roadblocks. They are used to creating solutions to problems because that’s how they have learned their entire lives.

The most prominent dyslexic entrepreneurs are Virgin Atlantic head Richard Branson and Cisco CEO John Chambers.

When he was in school, Branson’s headmaster told him that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. Of course he was wrong. He was off by three zeros – Branson is a billionaire.

See, different isn’t so bad.   turn your weakness into strength

Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids who don’t always get A’s
The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers, And noses that go on for days . . .
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids they call crazy or dumb,
The kids who don’t fit, with the guts and the grit, Who dance to a different drum . . .
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids with the mischievous streak,
For when they have grown, as history’s shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.

— Digby Wolfe, “Kids Who are Different”