My letter to my younger dyslexic self

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Published on 23 January 2018

I’m often asked how I went from being a dyslexic school drop-out to founding many successful businesses.

It’s really important that we provide young people with the support they need to succeed, and to understand dyslexia as a different and brilliant way of thinking. That’s why I support Made By Dyslexia, a charity dedicated to changing the stigma around dyslexia.

Richard Branson sitting by the pool on Necker Island
Kevin Wolf

As we delve into the theme of fulfilling potential on, I had a think about what advice I would give my teenage self. 

This is the letter I wrote:

Dear Ricky,

I know you’re struggling at school and I wanted to give you some advice on how to become the best you can be, even when it’s difficult and you feel like the world is against you.

You should never see being different as a flaw or think that something is wrong with you. Being different is your biggest asset and will help you succeed.

I know you have problems with reading, writing and spelling and sometimes find it tricky to keep up in class. This does not mean you are lazy or dumb. You just think in a more creative way and struggle to find the relevance in school. Just make sure you turn your frustration with education into something positive.

Find things that interest you and pursue them doggedly. This passion is what will keep you going when things get tough – and life is always full of challenges. Your alternative ways of thinking will help you see these challenges as opportunities. 

Richard Branson smiling in the Student magazine office

It’s ok not to be good at some things; as long as you find good people you can trust and surround yourself with them. Learn what you’re good at and channel that, instead of focusing on what you can’t do.

Use your alternative ways of thinking to be creative and think bigger. Look around you and see where things aren’t as they should be and try and come up with huge, big solutions that can have a positive effect on people.

You might not realise it, but there are many, many other people out there that struggle at school in similar ways to you and many of them have gone on to invent or create wonderful things.

As your mum is teaching you, never be afraid to fly higher. If you’re scared and excited about what comes next, you’re probably on the right path.

Keep smiling, attitude is everything. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to – don’t ever believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

All the very best wishes for the future,

Richard Branson