My brother gave me a copy of A Left-Handed History of the World by Ed Wright for Christmas. As my husband, Daniel, said, that’s much better than a previous gift of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat by Simon Bond. Others found it amusing, as a cat lover, I did not.
I am left-handed. It was interesting to read about other prominent lefties. Some of my favorites include: Queen Victoria, Charlie Chaplin, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Madame Curie, Henry Ford, Ramses the Great, and Joan of Arc. Several US presidents (Reagan, Ford, George W. Bush, and Clinton) were on the left – when it comes to hands at least.
Lefties have been burned at the stake, made to use their right-hands, refused as marriage partners and basically abused. Being left means we have an extra step in our learning process; to adapt the right way to do something to our way. We are acutely aware of who we are and where we are.
Wright’s comments about characteristics that make lefties successful got me thinking. Do we make good salespeople? Are we better than our right-handed colleagues. I think maybe so.
Is it only because, as all lefties know, “we are in our right mind”? That’s part of it. But here are five other reasons suggested by Wright’s book. See if you agree.
- Good salespeople are willing to risk it all – a “Yes” or a “No”. Lefties are risk-takers. We are willing to keep on putting ourselves out front and center.
- Good salespeople are intuitive. They need to be able to cut through the mess and get to the core. Wright says those of us who are left-handed can read situations better and more closely. We often come up with unique solutions that surprise others. (Think of lefty Sir Isaac Newton, for instance, or battle strategist Alexander the Great who conquered the known world).
- Good salespeople are empathetic. They can put themselves in others shoes. They can make others feel more comfortable and that they really understand the situation. Those who are left-handed know what it’s like to be different and are used to being the outsider. Consider scissors, pens, ladles, etc. — all made the right-handed way. We want to be part of the “rights” but we can’t completely. So we are inclusive and try to bring people to us.
- Good salespeople can size up a situation quickly and adjust. Wright refers to this strong left-handed trait as “Visual Spatial Ability”. They can take in the whole picture with a quick glance. He says it applies particularly in artistic, scientific, and mathematical applications. Got something complicated to sell? Lefties will understand it first and be able to describe it to others.
- Good salespeople can make connections between things that at first glance seem miles apart. Lefties, Wright says, have lateral thinking. They can adapt and see a thing in terms of another. They think in metaphors. I can attest to that. Sometimes our leaps can blow a “righty” away. How can we think that way? Because we think in many ways all at the same time. This drives my partner crazy. I live in a world in which I don’t completely fit so I will make it fit.
Bad News Lefties
The news is not all good about lefties. We can also be hot-tempered, ambitious, solitary, iconoclastic (change agents who love to destroy “the usual”) , want it our way (self taught as Wright says), experimental (“what if”, we say), and a fantasist (coming up with solutions that don’t exist within possibility at least right now).
Look at your salespeople. Who are the best ones? Bet at least 8% are left-handed. (Wikipedia says about 10% of the human population is left-handed.)
If your sales are down, hire a lefty. Then, stand back.
Are you a lefty, too? Do you agree? Are you good at reading people and creating sales opportunities? I would love to hear from you. (Comments from right-handers as well as left-handers are welcome.)
How a lefty’s mind works
Musings on the author by this author:
- Is he left-handed?
- Is it odd for a man named “Wright” to be writing about the left? How did he feel about it?
The book is definitely worth a read. You may get other insights out of it, especially if you are left-handed.