"Is everyone who works here left handed?"
Not quite, but we do have a fairly large percentage of "southpaws" here at Beekley. While lefties represent just about 12% of the global population, 19 of our Associates are left-handed - 20% of our entire company! With 2 out of every 10 Beekley Associates being left-handed, and the majority of them in a leadership role, it's not unusual for our right-handed guests to feel like a minority - especially when they're in a meeting with 9 or 10 southpaws.
With that many lefties working at Beekley, myself included, we would be remiss to not do something in recognition International Left Hander's Day, celebrated every August 13.
Genius at work or just a more fully connected brain?
Rumor has it that left-handed people are smarter and more creative than our right-handed counterparts. While that may not be (exactly) true, there is some evidence that left-handed people have the upper hand in at least one creative facet: they're better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions.
We think it's because we have had to "problem solve" and come up with creative ways to adapt to a society centered on right-handedness our whole lives... and we may be onto something.
The corpus callosum (the bundle of nerve cells that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain) tends to be larger in left-handed people, suggesting that lefties may have enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres. The why is unclear, but many theorize that living in a world designed for right-handers could be forcing left-handers to use both hands, thereby increasing connectivity and that the left-handed brain is pushed in a way that a right-handed one never is.
This may explain why lefties are drawn to the arts and sciences - disciplines that require thinking outside the norm.
Making sense of the right-handed world
When you are naturally left handed - many everyday objects are riddles that need to be solved in order to make them work for you.
"To a lefty, certain things need to be navigated with a little more thought when you first encounter them" according to my colleague Marybeth Sliter. "Scissors, right-handed desks, and spiral notebooks.
"It takes some getting used to holding a measuring cup and seeing milliliters instead of ounces. Learning to use a tape measure with the numbers reading upside down.
"When left-handed items starting coming into the market place, my mom was so excited to order me a left-handed notebook. What surprised us both is that I didn't like them. I had become so adapted to right-handed objects, it made me uncomfortable to use something that was just for me.
"As lefties, we may begin each day with coffee in a mug with a picture on it we never see, we've learned to use the computer mouse with our right hand, as well as credit card machines, which, of course, are always on the right side."
An elite club
Kate Chase, our quality manager, has a somewhat different view of growing up lefty. "I have loved being a lefty my entire life - it makes me feel unique, special, and gifted. My earliest memory of being lefty was in kindergarten when my teacher had to rummage through the supply closet to find the one pair of special green-handled scissors for me to use.
"As the only lefty in class, they were just for me and made me feel special. I am always on the lookout for others like me. I notice left handed actors and athletes and I definitely notice my MANY Beekley colleagues who use their left hand. 'You're a lefty? Me too!' It's like we're all part of a secret club that is very hard to get into."
Of course, Kate also grew up with the challenges of growing up left-handed, "Growing up I had to adapt to my right-handed world. I learned how to use a can opener the "right" way. I had to learn how to write in my notebook without smudging. I had to learn to be careful eating seated next to a righty."
An advantage in sports
For Larry Van, and for Marybeth, the benefits of being a lefty became apparent when they got into to sports. Larry told me, "Being left-handed is a asset as an athlete.
"As a youth, I was the only lefty on the neighborhood baseball team. The only way I could participate was to learn how to throw and bat from the right side. Now, as an adult, I am able to switch hands at just about anything. My bowling average is the same for either hand, I can pitch horse shoes with either hand, and switch hands with any sport that requires rackets or paddles."
Marybeth's first compliment about being lefty came from a tennis instructor who told her to grab the racket with whatever hand she felt most comfortable with. "As soon as I took it with my left hand, he said. 'A southpaw - watch out world, we have a powerhouse!'
"It was the first time I heard the idea of being left-handed associated with strength."
Born to lead?
It seems that in addition to the arts and sciences, left-handed people are also drawn to law and politics.
When it comes to selecting leaders, we as a society lean left... as in handedness. 7 of of our last 15 chief executives have been either left-handed or ambidextrous - practically 50% and well over the norm in the general population.
Robert S. Herbst, a left-handed attorney and motivational speaker (and former Eagle Scout) is quoted in Reader's Digest as saying, " “When I was at Columbia Law School, which is one of the most elite schools in the country, we noticed that a large proportion of the class was left-handed.
"This made sense as left-handed people are right brained meaning they are more creative, analytical, verbal, and have better language skills, all of which are traits necessary to being a good lawyer. I have met a number of left-handed Eagle Scouts, including Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former New York City mayor. Perhaps being right brained and left-handed also gave us the leadership ability, discipline, and ambition to excel even at an early age.”
I know the lefties I work with demonstrate these traits. Perhaps all the challenges we lefties faced just to navigate our world while growing up prepared us for taking on challenges on a larger scale as we grew into adulthood.
Marybeth summed it up best. "I don't need to name famous people who are left-handed in order to justify that being left-handed is a good thing. This is because I work with so many people that I admire every day who are left-handed and that is a strength. Go Southpaws!"
Embrace the Smudge!
So if you're a southpaw like us, take a moment this August 13 to appreciate how being left-handed gives you that little extra edge in just about everything you do.
Our Beekley Southpaws:
Laterrius Johnson – IT Manager
Maura Turner – Senior Customer Care Manager
Christine LeBlanc- Senior Graphic Designer / Web Manager
Craig Gemmel – Prestige Lane Hospitality Brands Machine Operator
Marybeth Sliter – Senior Account Manager
Kate Chase – Quality Assurance Manager
Martha Flannery – VP Sales and Marketing
Beth Kyle- Market Research Specialist
Mary Lang – Senior Marketing Communications Manager
Jody Searing – Senior Graphic Designer / Branding Manager
Josee Beaudry – Accounts Payable Manager
Liz Correa- Medical Products Inspector
Joe Rose – Machinist/Purchaser
Lena Molina – Senior Sales and Marketing Support Specialist
Larry Van – Manufacturing Support/Receiving
Keri Wakeling-Medical Products Inspector
Missing form picture:
Patrick Ray- Director of Pricing
Michael McGuire - National Account Manager
Damon Norbut-Stulpin - Custom Products Finisher