From the President

Michael Horsfield
By Mike Horsfield, PT, MBA

Dear Friends,

What would you be doing if you weren’t afraid? Why aren’t you doing it?

These are powerful questions that require difficult, worthwhile, and often unsettling self-reflection. As a card-carrying coward, developing a productive relationship with fear has been a life-long struggle. This poem played a pivotal role in that journey:

When the sun has set and the horizon is clear a little child’s heart turns totally to fear. Along with the darkness that comes every night is the most horrible feeling the feeling of fright. Although a night light is plugged in by their side try as they may the child can’t hide. To the fears of today darkness is mild but not when you are looking through the eyes of child.

The author was an insecure high school sophomore named Mike. Creative writing was the classroom lesson. Fear of failure was the monster under the bed. The grade was a D. “Childish drivel” was the teacher’s feedback. The hero—not villain—of the story was a great teacher named Ms. Theisen.

Her 18 years as a Franciscan nun shaped her teaching style. Her high expectations were clear and her approval rationed. By dissociating performance from self-worth, she created a safe place to explore and fail. She helped immature minds and fragile egos tackle complex questions, reframe fear, and challenge comfortable stereotypes. She shined light on the fear monster, and it was beautiful, not scary. Failure as defined by a grade was a small price to pay for exploring interests yet to be refined.

Realize that reconciling our anxiety is the first step in helping others process theirs. What are you afraid of? Is it possible an unexplored fear is a gift not threat? What would your team do if they weren’t afraid? Why aren’t they doing it? Is it safe for them to fail? How can you be more like Ms. Theisen?

Together, we got this! 

P.S. By the way, Ms. Theisen, if you are looking down on this, that “childish drivel” paper you gave a D just got published. 😁

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