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3 Reasons I am Distinctly Abled - The Underestimation of Disability in Business

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 1/03/2016 Jay Crisp Crow

Here's a list (extensive but not exclusive) of things I am totally rocking at that will help your business:
- Using the resources I have to create something outstanding
- Time and energy management
- Ability to quickly tune into someone's needs and effectively communicate their point of view
- Compartmentalisation
- Delivering a finished, exceptional product in a reasonable time frame within a tight budget
- So outside the box thinking that we are no longer looking at anything that even resembles a square
- A natural empathy and intuitive talent that goes beyond sympathy
- The incredible application of a swipe of lipstick that takes me from looking like a zombie to a semi-functioning adult
Guess how I attained these fabulous qualities?
I became incredibly unwell at 16.
It's a long and draining story. If you tell it around my mother she still cries tears of regret and some days, I have to be truthful, it's beyond horrendous. And then some days it's entirely manageable and if you met me at a meeting or in your office you wouldn't even guess that under the layer of blonde and lipstick there is every day, every moment pain.
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It also isn't something I talk about often, given that everyone is fighting their own battles in some realm of their lives. Mine isn't more important than anybody else's and absolutely, the gamut of disability is so diverse that there are people suffering that cannot tackle anything but everyday life.
I'm so lucky, in many ways, to have "only" an invisible immune disease.

There are so many things disability has stripped from me.
I used to be a professional dancer. I used to get up in the morning and not be so ill I have to crawl to the shower. I used to go places and do things without the slightest concern about how it would continue to affect me in a week.
But my illness has gifted things to me at the same time. Just check that list above! I am really good at using the skills to thrive and benefit myself and other people, despite my disability. I created a sustainable and award-winning copywriting business through sheer force of will, and now don't have to tackle the hardest part of my day - getting out of the door. That doesn't make me lazy, that proves I've been forced into living smarter.
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And I'm not the only one.
Here are some stats to back up my claims:
Cost to business in absenteeism and sick leave is lower for employees with a disability than costs incurred by other employees.
Whaaat? Yessiree. My theory on this is that I feel run-over-by-a-Mack-truck sick just about every day. I am so used to it and so capable of managing my energy that I am turning UP regardless of how awful I feel (unless I'm contagious and spotty). If I am contagious and spotty, advances in technology means that I am now more able to work from home and do amazing things while whining to myself. I am supremely innovative and this I've learned partly from managing my illness, raising a family, working a demanding job. You should check my game face!
People with disabilities often have a higher retention rate than other staff.
Becoming unwell in the prime of your life leads you to become quite appreciative for the sweet and good things that come your way. As long as you don't become too introspective, that level of gratitude really assists in maintaining a healthy outlook on your circumstances.
One in 5 of your customers has a disability.
That's every fifth person that walks in your door, every fifth client. Some of those people possibly have an invisible illness and you won't ever even realise.
It is from this community that we do business with - as existing, potential clients, shareholders, partners and service providers. Ignore 20% of any population of potential clients, buyers and partners at your peril! You may be giving up on over four million potential providers to your business and denying your business a really great diversification.
So if you think working with people who have a disability is going to be a consideration for your business, you are probably right. It should be a significant consideration as it provides you with some very sweet opportunities. The Australian Network on Disability calls our Australian marketplace a 'skills-constrained economy'.
Therefore, it's a very organic movement from "I have the skills you need" to "I am the best person for the job."
Who are you underestimating?
I hope it's not yourself.

WOMAN REAR © leolintang via Getty Images WOMAN REAR

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