The Inspiration Behind Lane Change U

Our two children were the inspiration behind Lane Change U. I played basketball at Ohio State and in the NBA, but I love watching track and field and swimming (especially during the Olympics) because of the life assignments and legacy applications at play. Our daughter Nyah was a five-time high school state swimming champion, All-American scholar athlete, and current Division I college swimmer at a top-tier program. Her words to me one fateful day, along with my son Eli, are etched in my memory forever. She said, “Daddy, my goal is to always swim in lane 4 or 5. These are the two best lanes; they create waves that make it harder for those swimming in the outside lanes. The inside waves that I create are discriminating because of water dynamics that I intentionally trigger. And the waves coming off the wall for those swimming in the outside lanes — 1 or 8 — make it even more challenging for them. These waves are incriminating since swimmers in the outside lanes have slower times, a tougher path and pace to keep, and a more difficult race overall to swim, let alone win. And, in many ways, this illustration mirrors the problems we face in our society today.” I was stunned by her astute observations; Nyah’s analysis was right on the money.

Now to my son. I am so proud how Eli handled a racial incident last school year that occurred between he and another kid, a white student. As boys do in gym class, they were competing! Unfortunately, the other kid did not like being on the wrong side of the competition equation that day. After losing his cool, he yelled at Eli, “You’re a monkey!” To add insult to injury, his insensitive remarks were accompanied by the sights and sounds of the jungle animal. My son was deeply hurt. Revenge was on his mind, but he extended grace instead of his fists. The principal was notified (and likely horrified) by what ensued. She asked my son if the other student had apologized. He hadn’t, but my son stated that he did. As the Good Book says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” She then asked Eli, “How are you going to move past this situation?” My son’s response touched her and those who are familiar with the account. He replied, “I wanted to beat the other kid up, but it’s best that I allow him the opportunity to grow into his change.” Mic drop. He has heard me echo these same words hundreds of times in my bridge-building efforts to bring people together. Monya and I were elated by Eli’s take-the-high-road response. When I received a call from the school, I insisted that the other kid not be suspended and instead face the immediate humiliation and reconciliation of his lapse in judgment. I was politely told, “Sorry Mr. Funderburke. Our guidelines necessitate a mandatory one-day suspension when a student is racially inconsiderate toward a classmate. We have a zero-tolerance policy.” Nothing I could do or say would overturn this ruling. The moral of both Nyah’s and Eli’s nuggets of wisdom: Children can teach us grownups a thing or two about change, the kind that matters most when division is pulling our nation apart. Of course, lasting change is a two-way street.

Now, we can argue over who’s at fault in fomenting divisive rhetoric. Democrats. Republicans. The One Percent. The working poor. Blacks. Whites. Social media. Partisan-driven, television network pundits. But if we’re honest, we need only look in the mirror to see who must step up as lane change agents (LCAs) to defuse it. That’s me, you, us. So, LFYO has created a non-judgmental, in-person and online learning experience to bring America together so that we can move to a better place and not stay in a bitter space in five critical areas: mental health, civil discourse, cultural capital (aka the upgraded version of DE&I), leadership ethics, and economic disparities. Welcome to the life run and legacy race we’re all called to complete, or better yet, pay “them” forward. And we need your help to make Lane Change U possible for every American! Click here for details on becoming a Lane Change U investment supporter. Be sure to watch the video to learn more about this exciting offering.

Feel free to contact us by phone or email to discuss how you or your organization can partner with us on Lane Change U. Thank you for your consideration and stay tuned for further details!





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