Change is the Law of Life*

I have learned that change is really the only thing we can know for certain. Saying that is one thing, learning to live it is another and means that we must often find ways to let go of the past and present, so we may be free to embrace the future.


In Richard Bach’s bestseller, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” there is a wonderful story that has always stuck with me despite the fact I read the book some thirty years ago.  It describes a village of river creatures that struggle with a swift current that is so strong that they must hang on to the bottom of the river for fear of being tossed among the rocks.  However, there is one creature that learns to let go of the bottom and ends up flying in the river.  Further downstream the flying creature comes upon another village of astonished river creatures who proclaim that this creature is the messiah.  The flying creature simply responds by telling them, “I am no more messiah than you, the river delights to lift us free if we only dare let go.”

I tell you this story because it serves as a metaphor for the unacceptable hatred and violence we see from groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists.  It reminds us that there are those among us who cannot and will not accept the inevitability that the world is changing and they are desperately hanging on to the way things are.  But we all must learn to let go and accept one another for all the wonderful and sometimes confusing differences we possess. It isn’t easy. Teaching and learning tolerance and acceptance, understanding that diversity is our true strength, and recognizing that we must stand up for what is right, is how we will find freedom and peace at home, in our communities, and in this lifetime.

*  Title inspired by John F. Kennedy.

Changemakers: It’s the Story We Remember

Those of you who have heard me speak about KCFAA know I often speak about the great story that we have to tell. It’s a story that started 33 years ago and continues to evolve.  It’s a story of collaboration, vision, and the desire to bring together those who would most likely not come together.  And it’s a story of passion and dedication and what a small group of individuals can do to change our community for the better.

So as you might imagine, I was drawn to hear Dawn Fraser speak recently at the Dance USA conference hosted by the Kansas City Ballet. Dawn Fraser is a story teller and she spoke on the importance of storytelling for those who are in positions of leadership.  Her message was simple but profound, and something that I want to share with you.

She started, of course, with a story.  The story was about her and her brother’s history as runners.  She then deconstructed the story to illustrate what she sees as the value of storytelling and why stories matter.

Why Stories?

Stories have transformational power—they can change the way we see ourselves and the way we see others. As a leader, we use stories to enable others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty.  Since we live in uncertain times, the stories we tell allow us to communicate our values, and to inspire, engage, and persuade authentically.

Most importantly, as changemakers, we need to use stories because of the deep connection that happens in storytelling. People remember stories.

Stories can be powerful and for those of us challenged to lead they can provide a means to share one’s vision of where we are today and where we need to be in the future. It is through storytelling that true leaders create a narrative of the future that we can envision together.

— Harlan Brownlee