Oh, the joys of being left-handed. For centuries, left-handedness was attached to one social stigma after another, from uncleanliness to evil superstitions.
We’ve come a long way since then, of course. But, there’s no denying the fact that most things in the world are designed for right-handers. As a southpaw, I can tell stories about the times I’ve jostled elbows at the dinner table or struggled to cut along the lines with a pair of scissors.
But despite all the inconveniences, being left-handed hasn’t been so bad. As a part of the 10 percent of the population that are left-handed, I find myself in good company with fellow lefties such as Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci and Oprah Winfrey.
It’s no coincidence that four of the last seven U.S. presidents have been left-handed. I think that being part of such an austere group has taught me about overcoming obstacles and given me some advantages to navigating through life and business.
Here are some advantages that being left-handed has given me:
1. Adapt to tricky situations.
As a lefty, I almost always have to do some extra fiddling whenever I use a new device that caters to right-handers. Since this situation happens often, it’s become second nature to manage my way around things.
In business, encountering an obstacle doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It means you need to develop strategies to overcome the inevitable hurdles that show up. If you can get through them, you and your company will grow and learn from the experience.
2. Balance caution with action.
Studies have shown that left-handers have a more cautious, cognitive approach to problem-solving than right-handers. While right-handers tend to be more impulsive, left-handed people take longer to start a task and are more careful.
Both impulsiveness and caution have their benefits and drawbacks. When you put various people on a team who exhibit both qualities, they balance each other out so that a company can move forward, but not without thinking things through first.
3. Stay committed to goals
A study in Edinburgh compared the reactions of left- and right-handers during and after they watched a scary film. The researchers found that left-handers were more frightened and experienced greater anxiety overall, which fits in with other studies that have found that left-handers suffer from anxiousness more.
Worrying isn’t all bad, though. Anxiousness is linked with higher concentration levels and ability to carry through with a task. In business, you’re in it for the long haul. If you want to succeed in your work, stay focused and don’t get pulled away by shiny distractions.
4. Find a loyal niche that needs what you have to offer
There’s a very good chance that I’ll always be left-handed. Like everyone else, though, I like to surround myself with things that make my life easier to navigate.
So, when I found a pair of left-handed scissors from a store that sells left-handed items, I was ecstatic. I also realized that catering to a small, loyal group of enthusiastic fans beats trying to cater to everyone’s needs, which can end up catering to no one at all.
5. Be empathetic to others
Left-handers, who are right-brain dominant, are better at reading people’s expressions and non-verbal cues. Right-handers, on the other hand, tend to focus more on the words being spoken.
A lot, if not most, of our communication is non-verbal and expressed through our expressions and body language. Understanding other people and knowing how to respond are important skills for succeeding in business.
6. Find creative ways to solve problems
Studies have found that left-handers are more likely to have divergent thinking, which means they tend to generate many possible solutions to solve problems. Divergent thinking is especially prevalent in left-handed males.
Generating numerous alternatives can lead to new discoveries and innovations, and increase the efficiency of your everyday work processes. Regardless of whether you’re left- or right-handed, you can encourage divergent thinking by reading books on a variety of topics and ideas.
7. Visualize the possibilities
Left-handers tend to have better spatial awareness and visualize scenarios better than their right-handed counterparts, since these skills are found in the right side of the brain. This skill comes in handy for driving a car and solving puzzles.
As an entrepreneur, visualizing scenarios is a valuable way to imagine what to do next. When you envision what’s possible, you can aspire to goals that move your business forward in leaps and bounds.
Thinking differently and approaching life in an unconventional way can present numerous advantages in work and business. Whatever your secret superpower is (and, yes, being left-handed is a superpower!), use it wisely and you’ll find new opportunities opening themselves to you.