Famous People with Dyslexia

Success Stories

There are many famous people with dyslexia and countless success stories; each an inspiration, a personal triumph.

We can't all be Tom Cruise or Richard Branson, two hyper successful dyslexics, but success is not measured in just dollars and fame. Success is to find your place, self confidence and overcoming challenges, something every dyslexic person can achieve! You will too.

Click on a name or photo below to learn how some of the most successful people have thrived with dyslexia, in some cases thriving because of it. 

"If you want to succeed, double your rate of failure"
          -Thomas J Watson, first President of IBM

7 Secrets of Success of Famous People with Dyslexia

What are the common threads among all the success stories? How can you as a parent or teacher, best help your child or student to succeed?

There is no magic bullet for success, no hidden secrets, mostly just only old lessons that we have to remember, or relearn. Here are seven common themes we found in the stories of these successful people and many others:

1) Never Give Up

Double your rate of failure! just like the quote from Thomas Watson says above. But you just can't give up. Success often comes at the tail end of a whole series of failure. Celebrate each success along the way!

2) Expect to Work Harder

You're going to have to work harder and fail more than others. Steel yourself, be ready! Someone without dyselxia may learn the alphabet or a phone number with just a few repetitions, a dyslexic person may need 20.

3) Keep your Expectations Low

That's right, keep them low! Much of the disappointment and frustration in life comes from overly high expectations. One of the most famous people with dyslexia, Jay Leno, put it nicely:

"If you don't think you're the smartest person in the room and you think you're going to have to work a little harder, and put a little more time into it, to get what everybody else does, you can actually do quite well. And that's been my Approach" - Jay Leno

4) Overlearn, OverPractice

Professional golfers practice the fundamentals of grip, stance and swing mechanics most every week of their life. All professional athletes spend more time training than playing - and they are the pros!! Even the most famous people with dyslexia have to work very hard for their success. When you think you have learned something stone cold, keep practicing and practicing. Overlearning is mastery! 

5) Find your Strength

Failing is no fun, and while doubling your rate of failure is a direct route to success, it's still not much fun. Discover what you, your child or your student can do well, and do that - a lot! Tom Cruise and Keira Knightley loved acting and that's what they did - a lot. John Lennon loved music, and he played constantly. Our sense of who we are and our feelings of self worth are often tied to what we can do well. And we can all do something well. Find it, or help your child or student find it!

6) Encouragement

In a world that too often brings bad news or disappointment, we all feed off of encouragement. We just can't get enough, so be sure to give enough. Especially to someone struggling with dyslexia. Celebrate every success, mark every accomplishment. And remember an accomplishment is sometimes just not giving up!

7) Dedicated Parents and Teachers

Love and encouragement from their parents, caretaking family member or teachers is one very common thread in all the stories. Be that parent, be that aunt, be that teacher. Take the time to make the difference. Build that self esteem at every turn, help them find that strength. Sometimes it's as simply as being there.

Remember that while there are many famous people with dyslexia, being famous is not success. Success is believing in yourself and overcoming your challenges. You can do it!  

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Photo Credits:

Anderson Cooper: By minds-eye (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Jay Leno: Photo Credit: By Michael Albov (Jay Leno) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Tom Cruise: By Виктория Тихонова [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; John Lennon: By The_Fabs.JPG: United Press International (UPI Telephoto)  Cropping and retouching: User:Indopug and User:Misterweiss  derivative work: Zakke (The_Fabs.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Keira Knightley: Tony Shek, retouch: Patrol110 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyshek/234330445/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Richard Branson: By David Shankbone [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Salma Hayek: Georges Biard [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Ben Foss: HeadstrongNation.org; Henry Winkler: Mark Naudi [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Carol Greider: By Gerbil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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