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Growing Your Mind from the Inside Out

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 29th 2015

Excerpt from the book Unleash Your Inner Company by Guest Author John Chisholm

In my mid-thirties, I accepted the fact that I’m gay. Many folks don’t see that as an asset. I disagree. It has been an asset for me in at least five ways:

  • People routinely assume that others are attracted to the opposite sex. I have long known—definitely—that those assumptions can be wrong. Being gay has thus made me more willing to challenge routine assumptions and the status quo, making me a better entrepreneur.

 

  • Being gay has sensitized me to the discrimination faced by women, blacks, and other minorities (not to mention gays themselves).

 

  • It wasn’t socially acceptable to be openly gay when I was growing up, so at least some and possibly much of the time and energy that I would otherwise have put into dating, I put into school, sports, and career instead. Today, I tremendously enjoy the benefits of that early investment.

 

  • By being openly gay today, others recognize that I’m comfortable with and don’t try to hide who I am, which builds trust between us.

 

  • More broadly, being openly gay signals that I am confident enough in myself that it doesn’t matter to me whether or not people know that I’m gay.

 

Some years ago I shared these ideas in a talk in Guatemala. A young man sitting several rows back in the auditorium slowly raised his fist and gently pressed it against his chest. At first I thought it was a small gesture of agreement or support. Then, when I looked again, I saw that he was not making a fist at all. His hand had no fingers. I imagine he was saying, “This I cannot change. This is my strength.”

 

Similarly, if you genuinely cannot change some aspect of yourself—height, ethnicity, accent, childhood, or that you or one of your parents were incarcerated—find a way to view it as an asset. Please set your bar very high. If you would like to change something about yourself that you indeed can change—you smoke, are overweight, or haven’t finished a degree—please don’t use this as an excuse not to make the change. But if it is genuinely out of your control, finding a way to view it as a strength will be hugely liberating and empowering for you and it will become one of your assets, as it was and has for me.

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