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:
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.