Some thoughts on what we can learn from autism, ASD, written in the self-help leadership style.
Everybody is somebody's weirdo
What unites humanity is vast and wonderful.
In the tapestry that is being human, you will always find someone who will seem odd to you. Likewise, you will always be peculiar to someone else. That is no reason for fear or hatred.
In finding out how oddball you are to some people, you can grow a wider appreciation of your own biases.
We all have them. We are all human.
Patience is genius
A quick decision particularly over questions of limited materiality (a Jeff Besos type 2 decision) is efficient. However, I have found I have won out in many situations by exhibiting patience. More patience than my competitors. I can out-wait most. Some psychologist have called this "grit". Economists talk about taking time horizon risk. I call it what you learn by losing going toe to toe with an autist.
Patience is a winning strategy
"Because everyone else does it" - is never a great reason
Autists reveal what are social norms because they often flout them (I won't go in to theories of why, just the empirical observation that they do). This in turn reveals that much more of the world is built upon social norms than I had thought.
We do things because other do things. Lemmings. Herd mentality. All well documented. Yet it goes deeper to matters you would not question until an autist throws it, into stark relief.
Why do boys wear blue and girls pink? They did not 80 years a go. It's a social norm created by marketeers. Why do we shake hands ? (In fact, in many cultures, we do not). Why don't we speak truth to power ? Most autists I observe do not lie. If a person is fat, why not say they are fat ? Is it more harmful to turn from the truth (of course, white lies have their place in typical society, but what effect does that have?) Question if something is right, do not rely on the fact that everyone else does it.
Follow your interests - you may discover the extraordinary
Autists often obsess. People on the autistic spectrum also seem to create break throughs or invent non-standard thinking more regularly than typicals. Gladwell has written about the 10,000 hours plus it takes to reach a 'genius' level.
You are unlikely to have a novel breakthrough just ploughing the same furrow. Neither will you master anything unless you keep at, perhaps long after others have fallen by the way side (cf. Patience as a strategy).
Autists will sail steadfastly obsessively on beyond where I thought I could tread. That inspires me to more, even if I have no comprehension of what that obsession might be. Prime numbers, Disney cartoons, the cracks in the street, the music in the air, train couplers....
Sure, if you like, go fail conventionally.
That is not the way of the autist.
How people react to autism/difference reveals the character of their humanity
Post an interview, some CEOs and managers will ask how the candidate treated the support staff along the way to the interview. I've heard many repeat the adage of how someone treats a waiter or receptionist reveals a true character.
This is heightened when facing difference. While we can be trained to be polite to waiters and receptionists, there's a routine we can follow. Throw in unexpected difference, an autist, a different culture, a deaf person, a conflict...
Grace under pressure
We can all learn that, and be better people for it.