Of masks and capes

It’s Christmas o’clock and time for John Lewis to milk our sentimental attachment to traditions, and the contents of our wallets. Are you smitten by 2019’s Excitable Edgar, the dragon that torches the holly life out of Christmas festivities? What’s it really about for you? For me, I saw difference and how to use the talents of that difference. Assuming this is by now no spoiler alert, the dragon basically stops wrecking Christmas when he gets to put his fiery nostrils to best use; lighting the Christmas pudding.

I dare say when John Lewis marketing team planned this they weren’t searching for an allegory for the competitive advantages of difference through neurodiversity (Harvard Business Review). I also doubt whether their awareness had been stretched by the CIPD report arguing for conscious building teams with neurodivergence, even when these concepts have been long championed and amplified by high profile academics-activists, Prof Amanda Kirby DoITProfiler, Dr Nancy Doyle of Genius Within and Janette Beetham of Right Resources Ltd, for example.

But Jannett Morgan and I have been reading and watching this paradigm shift, and have put together a free interactive workshop for employees and returners to work with specific learning differences so they can practise how to disclose their difference in style. The idea is that in 2 hours on 4 December at Matthews Yard in Croydon, participants will learn how to disclose their hidden disability with strength and composure.

We’re hoping that employers will attend too, to expand their knowledge and skills in initiating and maintaining supportive dialogue for workplace adjustments, where necessary.

If nothing else, we aim for 4 December to help people drop the mask hiding their disabilities. Less energy on covering up and pretending to be something you aren’t, and more effort on owning your skills and strengths. Sure, a mask for hidden disabilities serves a multitude of purposes in an array of situations, preventing careless exposure, for one. Until it is no longer the right fit. You know, those times when you find yourself taking the minutes in a meeting, despite being the only dyslexic present, and charged with no more tech support than a pen and paper.

Learning The Winner’s Way will set the stage, let you drop the mask and act like a superhero. Because, you know what? When you learn to disclose like a diva, you help not just yourself, but pave the way for others, too, something Digital Inclusion Lead at Microsoft, Michael Vermeersch advocates after discovering that disclosing a hidden disability would be less for himself and more like donning a cape. Step up, Superman/Wonderwoman…You’ll be putting difference ‘here’, not ‘over there’.

We want you Workshop Winners to become your own Excitable Edgars, setting the world on fire with your  talents by being more you and being more unique. We’re really looking forward to meeting you and hearing your stories.

What’s your disclosure story? What hidden talents would come to light if you disclosed your disability?

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