As I consider the topic regarding realities in the workplace and job accommodations, I marvel at how many before us have lived in a time where learning disabilities were unheard of, and yet found ways to cope despite. Before I begin however, I would like to clarify that I do not mean to insinuate that individuals of late should not look to the ADA or opportunities for help; nor should they not be happy that they live in a time and world now that is perhaps more accepting or understanding or even open to an individual needing something to help them survive in an ‘average’ world. But instead I appreciate all of those that have had to find ways to adapt, and I am thankful to them for not only potentially paving the way but also for bringing awareness to so many. Their willingness to disclose has helped individuals that have come after them to not only understand the benefits and positives to letting their differences be known, but they have also shared invaluable options for self-accommodation as well.
Consider the story we find in the Fortune article, The Dyslexic CEO. And while I know I was just referencing the same story in the last post, I cannot help but come back to one more time (probably not a final time!) to add to my argument….The first time John Chambers ever disclosed that he had a learning disability to the many that looked to him for direction was not because he had to, he weighed the benefits, or assessed the negatives of doing so. It was instead, in my humble opinion, a moment of courage that I did not witness and yet will never forget. He reportedly had never said anything because “you don’t want people to see your weaknesses” (pg. 58) Yet in a brief moment as he listened to a child in a crowd of many struggling to ask a question, he bared his difference in a courageous attempt to empathize with her despair.
“’You could immediately identify with what that was like,” he says. “You know that pain. She started to leave, and you knew how hurt she was in front of the group and her parents.” “I have a learning disability too, “ he said. In front of the crowd, he began talking to her as if they were the only two people in the room. “You’ve just got to learn your way through it,” Chambers told her. “Because there are some things you can do that others cannot, and there are some things others can do you’re just not going to be able to do, ever. Now my experience has been that what works is to go a little bit slower…” It was the kind of coaching that proved crucial to nearly everybody we talked to: mentors who took a genuine interest, parents who refused to give up, tutors who didn’t even know what dyslexia was.” (pg. 58)
So as I close out this thought, please understand that the entire premise to this rant is regarding the importance of where we are today as opposed to before. Society is still left wanting when it comes to education on the matter of learning disabilities; yet consider how many one man has helped in his momentary act of courage and the story that has followed him since. The realities of the workplace are such that there will always be hardships, difficulties, accommodations and opportunities for educating the ones you work with. You will find some that just don’t understand, don’t care, or are unwilling to help. But you will find a place at some point where many see you for who you are, look past the label, and instead focus on your strengths, contributions, and inspiring path to greatness.