Today's Reading

Your place in the world is sometimes an actual physical place: a home, a neighborhood, or a city. But it can also be something that speaks to your sense of purpose in life: a job, a community, a relationship. Your place is wherever you feel fulfilled, alive, and at peace.

For me, the answer turned out to be finding my personal mission in life (which I'll share more about later in the book) and a partner for life who accepted me completely: my wife, Benís.

I believe that to be your best self you have to be your authentic self.

And you can't be your authentic self until you find your place in the world.


THE ONLY BLACK KID AT THE SYNAGOGUE

Adapt like water and you'll be unstoppable

I was the only Black kid in my synagogue—but when I was with the other Black kids from school, I didn't fit in easily either, since I was mixed and Jewish.

People didn't know what to do with me, how to talk to me, what to say to me.

My being different made many people uncomfortable—even when they were well-meaning.

Since there was no community that I belonged to without question, I was never able to let down my guard and just be me. I had to do the work of figuring out everyone else around me all the time, and I got very good at adapting myself to make other people comfortable. I had to learn, on my own, how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

I learned to talk to White people and Black people.

Wall Street types and nonprofit types.

Kids whose parents had no idea how to play the game and kids whose parents practically invented the game.

I learned how to set different kinds of people at ease. I watched their faces closely when I spoke to them to see which things connected and which things did not—then repeated the things that clicked in other conversations.

I've had to study people with the kind of focus and care that other people study books with.

It's certainly not fair that some people can be themselves and others need to constantly present different parts of themselves in different situations in order to make others comfortable. When I was younger, I wished that I could be the one to be made comfortable sometimes rather than always doing that for others.

But I've made the personal choice not to focus on the unfairness. Instead of getting angry, I became determined to go further. I focused my energy on learning to adapt and adjust to more and more situations.

Being extremely adaptable is a hugely valuable skill.

It transforms every interaction into an opportunity.

These days, I might talk to an investor in Asia, a software engineer in Seattle, a newly hired real estate agent in Miami, my eldest daughter Raia on FaceTime, a junior marketing designer in New York, and a reporter from the Wall Street Journal—all in a single hour. And for each conversation, I adapt.

People throughout my life have made me feel like I don't belong. But I haven't listened. Being able to adapt to anything made me feel that I was never out of place and that no one could ever "put me in my place."

A mentor once said that I was like water: no matter what you set in its way, water finds a way to keep moving. It changes form, it tunnels deeply, it discovers a path around whatever obstacle it comes across on its journey. And slowly but surely, water wears away the obstacles that try to contain it, carving new paths that are easier to follow in the future.
...

Join the Library's Email Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

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Today's Reading

Your place in the world is sometimes an actual physical place: a home, a neighborhood, or a city. But it can also be something that speaks to your sense of purpose in life: a job, a community, a relationship. Your place is wherever you feel fulfilled, alive, and at peace.

For me, the answer turned out to be finding my personal mission in life (which I'll share more about later in the book) and a partner for life who accepted me completely: my wife, Benís.

I believe that to be your best self you have to be your authentic self.

And you can't be your authentic self until you find your place in the world.


THE ONLY BLACK KID AT THE SYNAGOGUE

Adapt like water and you'll be unstoppable

I was the only Black kid in my synagogue—but when I was with the other Black kids from school, I didn't fit in easily either, since I was mixed and Jewish.

People didn't know what to do with me, how to talk to me, what to say to me.

My being different made many people uncomfortable—even when they were well-meaning.

Since there was no community that I belonged to without question, I was never able to let down my guard and just be me. I had to do the work of figuring out everyone else around me all the time, and I got very good at adapting myself to make other people comfortable. I had to learn, on my own, how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

I learned to talk to White people and Black people.

Wall Street types and nonprofit types.

Kids whose parents had no idea how to play the game and kids whose parents practically invented the game.

I learned how to set different kinds of people at ease. I watched their faces closely when I spoke to them to see which things connected and which things did not—then repeated the things that clicked in other conversations.

I've had to study people with the kind of focus and care that other people study books with.

It's certainly not fair that some people can be themselves and others need to constantly present different parts of themselves in different situations in order to make others comfortable. When I was younger, I wished that I could be the one to be made comfortable sometimes rather than always doing that for others.

But I've made the personal choice not to focus on the unfairness. Instead of getting angry, I became determined to go further. I focused my energy on learning to adapt and adjust to more and more situations.

Being extremely adaptable is a hugely valuable skill.

It transforms every interaction into an opportunity.

These days, I might talk to an investor in Asia, a software engineer in Seattle, a newly hired real estate agent in Miami, my eldest daughter Raia on FaceTime, a junior marketing designer in New York, and a reporter from the Wall Street Journal—all in a single hour. And for each conversation, I adapt.

People throughout my life have made me feel like I don't belong. But I haven't listened. Being able to adapt to anything made me feel that I was never out of place and that no one could ever "put me in my place."

A mentor once said that I was like water: no matter what you set in its way, water finds a way to keep moving. It changes form, it tunnels deeply, it discovers a path around whatever obstacle it comes across on its journey. And slowly but surely, water wears away the obstacles that try to contain it, carving new paths that are easier to follow in the future.
...

Join the Library's Email Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...