At Blue Moon, we embrace diversity. In anticipation of International Left-handers Day on 13 August, we did a whip-around survey, asking: “How do you experience the world, as a left- or right-handed person?” While not one right-hander responded, the lefties’ heartfelt insights revealed that “normal” is indeed a relative concept.
On pride and prejudice
A synonym for “left-handed” is “sinistral”, which comes from the term “senestral”, meaning “unlucky”. “Senestre” and “sinister” (in Old French and Latin) meant “prompted by malice or ill-will; intending to mislead; contrary; false; unfavourable”… oh, the list of negatives goes on… to the extent that, even in living memory, being left-handed was considered a sign of witchcraft!
No wonder the lefties have such a hard time of it. They’re forced to write, counter-intuitively, from left to right (and in the days of pen and ink, this was a messy business, it being almost impossible not to smudge every word).
What the far right take for granted:
- Scissors, guillotines, golf clubs and cheque books
- Knitting, and using knives and forks and spoons the “right” way
- Pens attached to counters (so you can actually use them to write with)
- Tin openers, potato peelers, corkscrews and saucepans with a pouring spout
Left-handed desks in lecture halls are always in too-short supply, we discovered. And: “Generally, houses are built for right-handers, it seems,” one respondent observed. “Ironing is difficult as, to get the plug, board and iron lined up, I usually land up either pinned against a wall or cupboard, or with the cord across the ironed part.”
“You notice other left-handers. Right-handers don’t notice. If they do – after, like, five years of acquaintance – they’re very surprised,” said another.
“Can one influence left or right?”
We asked, and our respondents were in general accord: you’re born that way, and it often seems to run in a family. The pressure to influence right-handedness is immense, though. “I found myself automatically putting things into my child’s left hand… so I made sure I corrected that,” one respondent confessed.
They were also in agreement that, in adjusting to the right-inclined way of the world, many left-handers become ambidextrous, or at least perform some things (like surfing, skateboarding and playing guitar) the “right” way.
Did you know?
- The world’s “left-handed club” includes Bill Gates, Jimi Hendrix, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Alan Turing, Marie Curie, Michelangelo, Raphael, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton.
- Leonardo da Vinci noted many of his ideas and inventions as “mirror writing” — legible only when held up to reflective glass. Some believe that his left-handedness was part of his genius, because it forced him to think and see in extraordinary ways.
At Blue Moon, we understand the value of embracing diversity “for real”. Mere lip-service comes at a very high price. There’s a smugness that comes with glibly “ticking the box”, and all it does is reinforce the status quo.
Are you realising the true power of embracing diversity in your organisation, and in your life?