Raising the Bar: Overcoming Hurdles in Life with a Learning Disability

Overcoming Hurdles

For those of us who struggle without a learning disability, we have much to learn from those who have. Overcoming hurdles in life such as dyslexia and writing are real issues many face and may not even know it. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability with a cluster of symptoms resulting in difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Other difficulties are spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.

I was able to interview the delightful Liz DeClifford, a communication and speech coach on our Women at Halftime Podcast. She is 78 years young and is working on a new keynote speech, busy as ever! A very interesting fact about Liz is she has a learning disability with dyslexia and found a way to learn when left behind. Even more amazing is the fact that she’s working successfully in the very field that should be a blaring showcase of her learning disability as a speech coach!

Reinvent the Story

Liz was institutionalized as a child, attending a boarding school growing up. She was labeled retarded but didn’t believe it! Her positive and upbeat mindset is one of the big keys to her success. She traveled most of the world as a single woman with an adventuresome spirit and a suitcase, choosing to not think of hurdles as obstacles, but chances to reinvent her story.

Liz was not diagnosed with dyslexia until an adult. Before that time, she worked as a nurse as well as other jobs, discovering ways she could learn. Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels. It’s interesting that people with dyslexia can be very bright, even gifted. They are often capable or even gifted in areas such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports. This is definitely true of Liz.

Learning Disability-Deborah Johnson

Working Around a Learning Disability

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia. Over 40 million American Adults have this learning disability, but only 2 million know it. Many famous people are dyslexic including: Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Spielberg, Kiera Knightley, Albert Einstein and Patrick Dempsey

Liz could have chosen the easier victim route, (See Victim Mentality in 6 Easy Steps!) making excuses for not being able to read or write. Instead she worked around her learning disability, finding a way to learn in a way she could understand. She can expound information and details about a number of technical subjects, always with an inquisitive and sharp mind. There are five principles Liz applied to her life that will help you to reinvent your story.

Principle One: Develop an Open and Adventuresome Mindset

The word adventuresome speaks of searching out excitement or challenges, taking risks. Your mindset affects everything you do. A positive and upbeat mindset will take you much farther than a negative or victim mindset. This is especially true at Halftime! (See: How Do You Know You’re at Halftime?) Look for the adventure and go for it!

Principle Two: Choose to Reinvent Your Story

This doesn’t mean to forget your story but change enough in your story going forward to change your life. Don’t think of your problems as obstacles, but opportunities. The book Atomic Habits by James Clear provides an excellent guide on the power of adding one very small habit in your routine. It can truly change your life! This is a must-read every year!

Principle Three: Find a Way to Learn More

This is a great mindset, especially when you feel like you’re being left behind. Liz was called retarded but chose not to believe it. She looked for ways to get around her learning disability to learn with an inquisitive mind. She then excelled in a field where she was expected to fail, never making excuses but communicating honestly what she needed to learn.

Principle Four: Self-Paced is Just Fine

There is nothing wrong with going slower than others around you. This principle also applies to creating new products. It doesn’t hurt to spend extra time to make sure an offering or product is ready for the market. Similar to developing a project, learning a new principle or method may take extra time to solidify. Be patient with yourself!

Principle Five: Take Care of Your Body

This is extremely important for mental alertness, learning and energy level. Many choose different types of diets, whether gluten free, vegetarian, etc… Find what works for you. What works for many is to eliminate certain foods from their diet, then add them back slowly to isolate any that cause allergies or other ailments. Liz chose to be gluten-free as well as vegetarian. This has worked well for her, as she’s learned what works best with her body. Find what works for you!

To sum all this up, my encouragement is to go for it! There will always be some sort of hurdle or obstacle to jump over or get around. The longer we have on this earth, the more we see with 20/20 hindsight vision. Evaluate, learn, then go! Life is a gift!

*https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/  https://www.austinlearningsolutions.com/blog/38-dyslexia-facts-and-statistics.html

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About the Author:

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of four books and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.