Nyle DiMarco, the first and only deaf contestant on America's Next Top Model, says learning to embrace his identity led to greater success.
You may know Nyle DiMarco as the winner of Dancing With the Stars or America’s Next Top Model.
And while he made it look easy on TV, DiMarco says his time on America’s Next Top Model was particularly difficult for him. As the show’s first and only deaf contestant, he often felt lonely and left out during his two months living in the show’s house.
But DiMarco, who spoke at a Game Changer session at ASAE’s 2017 Annual Meeting & Exposition in August, says those feelings also led to an awakening.
“I realized in that moment that I had to flip the script and not think about my deafness as a negative, but rather think about it as a positive and how I could use it as a platform to change the world’s perception of deaf people for the better,” he says in a video posted on the Keppler Speakers website.
The outcome: the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, which works to improve the lives of deaf people around the world.
From his success, DiMarco offers this advice to execs who may be challenged by a disability, a leadership weakness, or some other personal struggle: “Embrace your identity and just try,” he says. “It’s all about embracing yourself. Whatever negative perception you may have about yourself or that others see in you, embrace it. Ride on it.”
When you find strengths in your weaknesses, the benefits extend to others as well, he says. “It will change your community for the better, and it will make you and your journey that much more authentic.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Embrace Your Identity."]