I’m left handed. Left handed in a not so purely left handed kind of way, but still noticeably left handed. I say ‘not purely’ in that I’m only left handed in single handed things, like tennis and writing and holding a microphone, But right handed in two / double handed things, like golf or cricket. I’m also right footed. While I’m a combination of both (and actually more right handed) I’m still left handed enough to have been noticed and labeled early on in my childhood as ‘left handed’, even thought I do more things right handed than left.
Being left handed in the world makes you a minority when it comes to handedness. Somewhere between only 10%-15% of the world’s population are left handed (more men than women). Even though lefties are a minority, we’re also apparently different enough to have some curious facts about us (see the full infographic embedded below).
In that 10%-15% group, there are some impressive left handed famous people:
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Marie Currie
- Barack Obama
- Jimmy Hendrix
- And of course, Ned Flanders 🙂
Are Left Handers More Creative
I’ve often been asked, ‘Are left handers more creative?’, and even “are left handed people’s brains different?” Perhaps this list of left handed ‘statistics’ will help you find an answer….
- Left handers are more likely to be geniuses
- They’re more likely to pursue creative careers
- Lefties, on average, are 15% richer than righties if they’ve attended college (US stat)
- We have our own day of celebration – 13 August is International Left Handedness Day
- Lefties die as much as 9 years earlier than right handed people, on average
- Tend to reach puberty 4 to 5 months later than right handers
- More likely to suffer stuttering and dyslexia
- Left handed people are 3 times more likely to become alcoholics than righties
- Lefties are more likely to be on extreme poles of the intelligence scale
While I’m certain some of these types of factoids are simply observations with not much scientific backing, there is a fair amount of impressive sounding research that supports some of the others.
As I read through the infographic embedded below, I began to wonder how much of the difference found in left handers is because of how the brain works in relation to being left or right handed and how much is caused by the fact that you’re both a minority and labeled as different from very early on (did you know that the word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken). Being different and feeling different can be a powerful influencer when it comes to seeing the world differently to other people, and therefore could explain many of the curious factoids about lefties. I’m not suggesting there isn’t a very powerful brain thing going on, but when someone grows up and is consistently told they’re different, and feels different, there’s got to be a better than average chance that they’re going to see the world differently.
Right handed people don’t often appreciate just how different left handers feel and are made to feel whilst growing up in the most normal and mundane things. Right handers don’t see this simply because they’re part of the ‘normal 90%’. We lefties are the fringe 10%. For example…
- When I was in primary school and the class learned to knit, I had to sew because my teacher couldn’t teach me to knit left handed. It’s a powerful thing when you’re 8 years old and your entire class is focussing on one activity for a few months and you’re focussing on another, simply because you’re left handed.
- Whenever I played a sport, peers would notice and comment, simply because I was left handed. Sometimes an entire game strategy or positioning would change because a left hander was playing.
- Even today when I’m writing something, people who don’t know me well will often exclaim, “Oh Barrie, I didn’t know, you’re left handed?”, as if that means something? Can it mean anything other than, ‘hey look at you, you’re different’? You’ll never hear a lefty say to a right handed person, “Oh Sally, I see you’re right handed. That’s so interesting”.
Left handers grow up continually reminded that they’re just the same as everyone else, just different
Of course left handers aren’t the only people who grow up as a minority feeling different simply because they are different to the ‘normal 90%’. I have no idea if being a minority and singled out for your handedness is the same as being different and singled out for your colour or your gender or your religion, or your weight, etc?
I can’t help shake the idea in my head, that being labeled early on as separate and different from everyone else, counts for some of the things that make lefties a curious and different member of the human species here on planet earth? But know this, we’ve done some cool stuff on the planet that you righties should be extremely grateful for 🙂
Barrie is a Conference Speaker, Writer and Head of Play, specialising in Change, Disruption, and Creativity.