Today is International Left Handers Day. As a Southpaw myself, you would think I would know this day was coming. But I didn’t. I learned about it when my brother texted me “Happy International Left-handers day”
And then I got this in my inbox from Statista:
Did you know the Netherlands leads in left-handers? No, neither did I. But in some ways, it is no surprise to me. I mean, the best street fries (french fries, pommes frites) are found in the Netherlands--they double dip on the frying. And the Dutch have lived below sea level for thousands of years. Through my Mom, I am from the Netherlands. (I would share her obviously Dutch maiden name, but as you know, that is the security question still for just about everything.)
I am a left-hander born to two right-handed parents. But my grandmother was left-handed; though teachers beat it out of her, so until she passed away she wrote right-handed.
I’ve often lamented my complete lack of athletic ability, because, in my mind, I would have made a great left-handed relief pitcher.
Since that career path was cut short early in life, somehow I ended up in market research.
If you are left-handed (yay--I love it if you are!) then you know that growing up left-handed you learn early how to creatively deal with a right-handed world. That leads to some pretty good problem-solving skills and natural abilities to think differently and see things from a different perspective.
As it turns out, scientists and psychologists have actually studied the whole left-handers may be more creative thing. For the most part, they agree that this is more than just myth. But out of these studies have come some learnings that any left-hander knows on a deeply personal level.
Left-handers are used to dealing with challenges. Every lefty has had to deal with right-handed scissors, teachers who place the pencil and crayon in your right hand, and so on. Sometimes it was as simple as switching hands. But you can’t do that with scissors. And other things built for right-handed use only. So you figure out how to deal with it. Sometimes you end up doing it right-handed--which translates in flexibility down the road. Sometimes you change how you use the tool--which develops creative thinking. Regardless, it all leads to well-honed flexibility and adaptability.
Left-handers process information differently and quicker. This leads to more intuitive thinking. Left-handers approach This has created in left-handers, typically, the ability to use both sides of their brain. Because of how a left-hander’s brain works a bit differently, we tend to see the general idea of an issue before breaking it down into details. Kind of the opposite approach from most people. (Or as my right-handed friends call themselves, “sane” people.) What this means is that we can often relatively quickly see through the clutter of data and intuit the patterns into a meaningful whole. Years ago, my boss told me I arrived at insights too quickly--that they weren’t well thought through. So, on the advice of a coach, I simply waited longer to hand in my report. Thereafter, my boss commended my high quality insights.
Left-handers tend to be more independent. Let’s face it, left-handers are different. And they know it. Sometimes that meant getting singled out and beat up by the bigger classmates in grade school. (I am not in any way implying that as a left-hander I had it tougher than someone who is ethnically different. Being left-handed has never been truly a life or death type of difference; and while teachers would beat left-handers with a ruler, we were never, ever killed for our left-handedness. Just being clear on this.) This being different and knowing it, results in a level of independence and not needing to conform. I see this in myself now in how I question research norms. The five-point purchase intent scale? Yeah, not a big fan. NPS? Let me tell you someday how I see that way differently.
So, if you are facing some challenging issues or need a different perspective, my recommendation is to look around you for the left-hander. Tap them for a different perspective or a creative approach. After all, they are well practiced with that.
And, if you are left-handed--enjoy your day! I think I will celebrate by having some ice cream for lunch.
Here are some reference sources for some of this stuff. I didn’t just make it up.
One big downside to being left-handed is a shorter lifespan. Read Dave Barry’s hilarious take on this and experiences being left-handed here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1991-07-14-9103190719-story.html