How often can you accept what makes you different?

Today is June 10 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often can you accept what makes you different?” Instead of worrying about fitting in all the time, those who navigate the chaos accept what makes them different and figure out how to leverage their unique skills, traits, and habits.

As poet Petra Poje wrote “Do not expect to be fully accepted if, firstly, you do not truly accept yourself, and, secondly, you are not truly accepting of others.”

The more you accept the difference in others the greater the opportunity you give yourself to accept what makes you different. If, on the other hand, you do not accept what makes others different, it will most likely be difficult for you to accept what makes you different.

Within this acceptance of both others and yourself lies the necessity to be vulnerable. Allowing others to accept who they are demonstrates they can be vulnerable with you because they trust you. Can you be vulnerable and trust someone with accepting what makes you different?

As a deaf player in the National Football League (NFL) Derrick Coleman is brave and accepts just how different he is. The first deaf player in NFL history was defensive tackle Bonnie Sloan, a 1973 member of the St. Louis Cardinals who thought he was fortunate not to hear his coach use foul language.

The second was defensive end Kenny Walker, a Denver Broncos 1991 draft pick that used an interpreter. But the third deaf NFL player has gone where none has ever gone before … to offense, where, in the 21st century there are audibles and “Omaha’s” and outright races to the line of scrimmage to snap the football. Derrick Coleman, a backup fullback for the Seattle Seahawks, is overwhelmed by none of it.

When he is in the lineup, the first person he finds is quarterback Russell Wilson. He follows Wilson to the huddle. He asks Wilson to stare at him during the play call. If there is an audible under center, he expects Wilson to turn around and mouth it to him loud and clear. If Wilson forgets, he will go grab the quarterback’s face mask. That is his other survival skill: whatever it takes. It is simple, actually: You do not have to hear to be able to listen. You can read about Coleman's ability to navigate the chaos in his book No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams. Coleman relied on his bravery to accept his differences.

Sir Richard Branson battled dyslexia and figured out how to leverage his uniqueness to become an entrepreneur with an estimated net work over $4 billion. Branson dropped out of school at 16 and said his dyslexia was "treated as a handicap: my teachers thought I was lazy and dumb, and I couldn't keep up or fit in." Such misunderstanding of what him different from others served as a catalyst.

Branson noted “Whatever personal challenge you have to overcome, you must be brave enough to accept that you are different. You must have the courage to trust your instincts and be ready to question what other people do not. If you do that, you can seize opportunities that others would miss. Believe in yourself and use everything you can—including the obstacles—to propel you along the road to success. Who knows what you might achieve?”

Branson’s observation echoed the words of comedian Lucille Ball who noted “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Actor Anne Crawford loved herself and celebrated her difference when she said “No, No and No. I am not desperate unlike what you think. I'm not like the madding crowd. I am a different breed of woman. The sort of woman who is unstoppable once she has set her mind onto something. I march to the beat of my own drum like a free-spirit and I know exactly what I want out of life. So, get it out of your head honey.”

How often do you love yourself so you can accept what makes you different?

Are you comfortable marching to the beat of your own drum?