When I first met Kathy Frank, I was a skeptic. She had come to administer a behavioral assessment survey to the members of the management staff at the company where I work. We’d undergone a considerable trauma, the unexpected death of our founder and president. His wife, who had bravely stepped in to take the reins, wanted to address the lingering stress our team was feeling.
I was skeptical that any survey could accurately gauge my personality, especially in relationship to the team. I was not interested in spending the day forced to do team building exercises. I just wanted to be left alone with the enormous pile of work I had to contend with.
But one session with Kathy Frank was enough to make a believer out of the skeptic. Her cheerful, matter-of-fact manner and the way she was able to read us all was astonishing. And her ability to make a significantly demoralized team feel that we actually could manage to work together was, quite honestly, nothing short of a miracle.
It speaks volumes to Kathy’s own personality that, when I continued to struggle with my personal choices at work, she was one of the first people I called. As Kathy herself would tell you, it wasn’t a risk I would normally take – but something about Kathy Frank make it feel safe. Her advice was sound and she helped me make some risky but ultimately rewarding choices. Like so many other people, I am blessed to call Kathy a friend as well as a trusted business advisor.
Yet, when she asked me to write the Foreword for Breakdancing on a Balance Beam, I was taken aback. Flattered, sure. But uncertain. You don’t generally find me browsing the inspirational bookshelves in the bookstore. Here, too, the skeptic in me emerged. But as I began to read the short musings that Kathy selected to be included in this volume, I realized that she was talking directly to me. To me as a working wife and mother, as a woman with creative aspirations, as someone who has a yen to live life on her own terms. And especially now, to me as I embrace a new episode in my own life as an entrepreneur.
Some of my favorites? There are so many. I loved Kathy’s essay on “Tempus Fugit” (Time Flies) because it’s so easy to become overwhelmed, to forget the simple joys in life – and Kathy reminded me of some of the most basic. Her “Out-of-the-Box Thinkers” made me reconsider what type of environment can balance both structure and creativity. Because I’m trying to be both a great teacher and a great artist, naturally “Great Teachers and Great Artists” spoke to me loud and clear. And as someone who sat back for too long and yearned for change, “Hire Power” made me recall that I’m the person in charge of my own life, no one else.”
Every time I pick up Breakdancing on a Balance Beam, I find something new that I want to stop and contemplate. Kathy has a knack for finding the right quotations to motivate and inspire you. Her down-to-earth stories are valuable because of the mingled strands of common sense and aspiration that give you a starting point for your personal and professional ambitions – as well as a place to return to when you need to refresh and renew your goals.
But don’t take my word for it, especially if you, like me, are a skeptic. Read on and find out for yourself.
Author of The Fruit of Her Hands and In the Shadow of the Globe
Associate Director of The Writers Club