Searching for Voices in the City of Music

I was blessed to be the key note speaker this weekend at the annual National Spasmodic Dysphonia Conference held, ironically this year, in the Music City of Nashville, TN.  People with broken voices from all over the world came to the city of beautiful voices to learn, connect and share their stories.  It was such a joy to share my story with the people gathered there.  

At the conclusion of my talk about searching for my own voice in the Land of Crazy Horse I shared three ideas…

The first was on the idea of leaders doing less not more…of leaders pushing power out instead of collecting it in…of a future where everybody shares the opportunity and responsibility of leadership.  I ended that idea with this quote…

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say ‘we did it ourselves’.” – Lao Tzu

The second idea I shared was to learn to SURRENDER to what comes your way…”What if Spasmodic Dysphonia picked you for a reason?” I asked the room full of people with SD.  “What brings you here?”  We will never know…but just pretend…what if SD picked you for a reason…what is that reason?  What is that calling or opportunity?  Earlier I began my talk by saying that my voice disorder was a blessing, one of the very best things that ever happened to me and that if a magic fairy appeared in the room and offered to take my disorder away I would not let her have it.  SD has brought more blessings into my life than challenges.  It was a blessing disguised as a problem.  Without SD, I told the group, I never would have known that I was a story teller, a writer, a photographer, an activist or an advocate for reinventing leadership for the modern world.  All of that came into my life becasue of SD.  “What if SD picked YOU for a reason?”  

Finally I shared the idea that despite the trauma that came with your/our disorder…”our true voice still lives within us”.  At the opening reception the night before we shared a magical two hours as the microphone was passed around the room and a group of people who struggle to talk all introduced themselves and told their story.  The broken voices did not bother anyone in the room.  We all understood each other perfectly.  During that process several times a broken voice would slip, even for just a few seconds into a normal voice.  That true voice still lives with in us all.  SD is actually a tool to help people find their voice, not lose it.  I told the group we might not be able to totally cure the neurological disorder we share BUT that we could definately make it much better.  I told them I didn’t want mine to totally go away anyway…it had been too good to me!

I closed with a reading from my book from a dinner conversation at the Singing Horse Trading Post with my dear friend Catherine Grey Day where she told me that “Change must come from within.”  SD forces you to stop, sit still and look inward…that is the blessing of SD.  It continues to be a joy to be connect Pine Ridge and the indigenous wisdom of the Sioux to the rest of the world!  In the end we all belong to the same tribe and the borders that we think divide us are not real.  

Last night, after the conference concluded, I went to the Grand Ole Opry and loved watching beautiful voices do their thing…just like I had at the conference full of amazing people with SD!!!!  Blessed!

12 thoughts on “Searching for Voices in the City of Music

  1. Kevin, your actions are your perfect voice. Thanks for sharing this journey with all of your friends.

  2. Hi Kevin – I’m very sorry, but I have to disagree with you. They were blessed to have you as the key note speaker. You inspired them. You made them think deeply. You challenged their conventional thinking. And the list goes on…and on…and on. They were truly blessed to hear your story and your three ideas. That’s the big story here. Were you blessed as well….of course!! But the true beneficiaries were those in the audience. Keep up the excellent work. I’m still ready to be your campaign manager for whatever you decide to run for…..from Casco Town Manager to President of the World.

    I will be back in Casco a week from tomorrow. I look forward to seeing you and your family. Barbara graduates from Leslie University on Saturday May 20th. So proud of her!! Barry

  3. Kevin, as always, truly inspirational…….it takes a very special person and leader to take a potential impediment and turn it into an opportunity for everyone who crosses your path….great work!!

  4. I was in the audience when Kevin spoke to attendees of the 2017 NSDA Symposium. He received a standing ovation. I was blessed to hear his powerful message.

    1. Mary it was a blessing to be at the conference and connect with you and so many other people who make up the SD community! Thank you for all yOU do! Kevin

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