If Life Gives You Lemons…

Ever since he was a little boy Paul Ryb has been the sort of person for whom the phrase: “If life gives you lemons you make lemonade”, does not go far enough. Despite, summing up the message of making the most of a bad situation, Paul’s personality urges a deeper and more analytical approach to the lemonade mix; leading to research – for example – not only into lemonade recipes, but also the history of the drink and the origins of the saying itself (it is actually attributed to Dale Carnegie author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”).

Paul has had problems with his eyesight for as long as he can remember and has always tried to discover solutions to the various challenges he has faced.  At the age of seven he became one of the youngest children in the country to wear contact lenses – a situation he turned into an award winning experience.

“I was acutely short sighted and, because I was so young, I was only allowed to wear the lenses for a few hours a day. I was really keen on sport and there was no way that I could play rugby or football in glasses. The contact lenses were great – I took to them like a duck to water.

“It was an amazing experience and even at that young age I knew that, to get on in life, I would need to make adjustments. I wasn’t vain; but I just didn’t want to be the stereotype of the poor boy with bad vision. I didn’t want to be pitied or thought of as handicapped in any way.”

The success of the contact lens experience was compounded by a school prize for the project he later presented on the history of contact lenses – from Leonardo da Vinci to the present day.

This philosophy of making the best of a bad situation has served him well throughout his life and now enables him to hold down a top job in the City despite being registered blind.

In the article published in the technology pages of The Independent newspaper (December 16th), I wrote about the various inventions that help him at work and at home.

Paul’s motive for “going public” was to help and inspire other people in similar situations and I am certain that he found it extremely gratifying to receive an email on the day the article was published from someone who is profoundly deaf. This person, who by his own definition is a: “very driven, performance- and people-oriented person” was on his own career path when his disability stood in his way. His direction had been forced to change dramatically after it was discovered that he was unable to use the telephone successfully.

About his frustrating job search he wrote:  “I have had very little success so far. Given two graduates with similar academic and internship experience, why risk taking me on and providing for expensive equipment that may not work very well), or finding telephones that work for someone with such a high degree of hearing loss as well as lack of auditory processing. I was feeling very low indeed, till I read about your (Paul’s) situation, and now I am determined to keep on truckin’.”

I am certain that we all wish both these courageous young men all the luck in the world … and inspiration and encouragement to the pioneering researchers of the future that they might discover new techniques to help them and others who are struggling in similar situation.

Image Source: ismoyo.com