For the full interview, go the AJHP at:

More thoughts from our HEROForum20 Ambassador:
Olympic Champion Jesse Diggins (Interview part two)

HEROForum20 is almost here! We have virtual learning sessions scheduled throughout the month of September. (See dates below or on our website). Our opening session is:

Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 12:00 CT

Opening Keynote: Forum20 Ambassador, Jessie Diggins, Olympic Gold Medalist
How Collective Well-Being Relates to being BRAVE ENOUGH: Overcoming Addiction and Teaming Up to Achieve our Dreams

As you will see in this interview series, Diggins is the perfect spokesperson for HERO’s theme this year which is: A 20/20 Vision for Collective Well-Being: How Group Dynamics and Social Connectedness Shape Individual Choices…and What Viral and Racial Pandemics Teach Us about Being in it Together

Our Forum theme is inspired by an award winning article about Collective Well-being, and these researchers will also be presenting in our virtual Forum general session on September 23rd. As you will learn in Jessie Diggins new book, Brave Enough, her success in a largely individual sport is grounded in a profound appreciation for the power of a team. And, with respect to our Forum’s theme, Diggins’s success in overcoming addiction has been firmly rooted in the collective support she accepted from her parents, coaches, fellow patients and health professionals.

When Diggins isn’t otherwise consumed by the demanding training and competitions of a professional athlete, she serves as an Ambassador to the Emily Program, one of our nation’s renowned eating disorders clinics. Her goals are as simple as they are ambitious, to reduce the stigma that comes with living with an eating disorder and to challenge our cultural norms related to body image. During our interview, Diggins occasionally noted that she doesn’t consider herself an expert in eating disorders, nonetheless, her hard won insights about addiction showed her to be an itinerate peer educator.


Jessie Diggins Interview, Part 2

HERO: We’ve reviewed how the idea of collective well-being is intentionally discussed by your teammates and coaches as a way to make everyone feel that they’ve played a role in both individual and team success. In Brave Enough, you tell stories of when you’ve had disappointing races. In your chapter, “Know when to fold ‘em,” you discuss trust issues between coaches and athletes. Once, you decided to drop out of a race for several reasons. Did that moment affirm or shake your views on trust and collective well-being?

Jessie Diggins: Yeah, I think by talking about that specific moment it was easy to see that trust is a core issue, whether or not it’s in sports or it’s a co-worker relationship or a boss and worker relationship or a coach and athlete relationship. In that moment of that race I had made a really tough call to drop out of the race in order to save my energy for the team sprint the next day where I thought we had better chances. It wasn’t just my hopes and dreams on the line, but Sadie Bjornsen’s dreams (Diggin’s teammate who was also a candidate for competing the next day) as well. I knew we had better chances if I saved my energy and it was better to pull the plug in the here and now and save it to really perform when it mattered later. It was a hard call, and knowing that my coaches and team director and team supported me really mattered. Everybody said, ‘We’ve got your back, we trust you!’

It would have been so easy for them to say, ‘What are you doing, that was stupid; why would you do that?’ It would have been very easy to start pointing fingers and start throwing blame and start questioning my motivation. Instead, once they made sure I was medically fine after I dropped out of the race, everyone said, ‘We trust you and if you say you’re ready (for the next day’s race), you’re ready.’ For me that was super. It’s hard to quantify how much that meant to me, but it was this sort of intangible, huge boost of energy from that confidence. I had that feeling of ‘they support me, they believe in me and they trust me.’ That is something you need, whether or not you’re heading into a sporting event, or whether you’re a doctor heading into a complicated procedure, you need to know the people on my team trust me and they’ve got my back. That story (of how others reacted when she dropped out of a race, something completely unusual for Diggins) shows that as humans we need that feeling of support. ‘Alright, I’ve got you, I’m here for you and I’ll back you up.’ That’s a pretty universal need that we have.

HERO: Health promotion professionals and psychologists often refer to “agency,” that sense that we are in charge of our fate, that our thoughts and actions are aligned and that we have free and purposeful will. Your coaches are experts on performance but they’re also in relationship with you as a person. How does the relationship compare to their expertise in how well you and your coaches are aligned in your training?

Jessie Diggins: Well, I think the relationship is the biggest factor because that’s where you really feel that emotional confidence and support that enables you to go out there and try your best. There is this moment where the coaches say, ‘Okay, we trust you, we trust that you know your body, and we trust when you say this is what’s going on with your body and it’s ready to race hard.’ On the flip side, they trust me if I’m saying, ‘Hey, I’m really tired, I’m not recovering from this training plan.’ They trust that I’m not just being a wimp. They trust that I really am saying something’s wrong, and I need them to hear that. That level of trust is something that athletes build with their coaches over time. If you are new in a relationship and someone tells you something, you might say, ‘how do I know that you’re right?’ But when you work with someone you need to build that confidence. There’s room for respectful debate, of course, but, by and large, when I say I know I’m ready, trust matters.

HERO: You’re a high performer with great potential to lead teams or other organizations in the future. When it comes to the agency of others you mentor and support, what do you aspire to as a leader?

Jessie Diggins: I’m someone who knows herself to be very type A and very perfectionistic. Sometimes I want to do everything myself because I think, ‘Alright, I know it will get done right, and I know it will get done the way I want it to be done to my standards if I do it myself.’ That is a very common feeling, I think. So, my biggest hope if I was in a leadership position, at the head of some organization, is that I would appoint the right people and have trust and let them do their job. You can grow and you’re able to be effective so much easier if you put the right people in place, and you let them do their job. You know you picked them for a reason, so let them work, I hope that I’m able to find the right people to surround myself with and let go of the reins.


For more about Jessie Diggins, visit: Read also her recent blog post on keeping a positive mindset and how she aims to be an ally in the work of reducing racism and achieving social justice.

In the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Diggins and her teammate Kikkan Randal became the first American cross-country skiers to win gold medals. Before her history making performance in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Diggins was the first American to win four World Championships medals in cross country skiing. She placed 8th in the overall and sprint rankings in the 2016 World Cup. In the 2017 Nordic World Ski Championship, she won a silver medal in the freestyle sprint and bronze in the classic team sprint.

It is mesmerizing to watch the insane looking burst by Diggins which is captured fittingly by the CBS announcer who also seems to be losing his mind as he screams “HERE COMES DIGGINS! HERE COMES DIGGINS!!” It’s a MUST watch celebration of x-c skiing and Olympic history:


More on HERO’s Virtual Forum20 next month

A 20/20 Vision for Collective Well-being: How Group Dynamics and Social Connectedness Shape Individual Choices.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Opening Keynote: Forum20 Ambassador, Jessie Diggins, Olympic Gold Medalist

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Deep Dive Session with HealthPartners, CDC/NIOSH, University of Michigan and Kumanu

Thursday, September 17, 2020
Deep Dive Session with McCalister and Associates, Texas Department of Transportation, University of Texas and National Instruments

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Keynote followed by choice of breakout session. Break and then convene for keynote followed by choice of breakout session.

Thursday, September 24, 2020
Keynote followed by choice of breakout session. Break and then convene for keynote followed by choice of breakout session.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Koop Award winners; Research update with Ron Goetzel; Ask the Experts with Jack Groppel.

A 20/20 Vision for Collective Well-Being: How Group Dynamics and Social Connectedness Shape Individual Choices…and What Viral and Racial Pandemics Teach Us about Being in it Together

At Forum20 we will examine “collective well-being” and ask how groups, organizations and our social spheres shape our destiny, fulfillment and life satisfaction. Forum20 carries forward our learnings from Forum19 where we asked how employers can better achieve well-being through collaboration, and we examined tenets of “collective action” and how individuals influence the direction of groups. To be sure, individual and group influences are bi-directional. Still, the worksite wellness movement has been steeped in behavioral psychology and has deployed education programs primarily focused on individual behavior change. This year, we examine how well we are employing principles of social psychology to advance well-being and how we are shaping group dynamics to bolster our aims to become the best places to work. Plus, we’ve asked our faculty to reflect on COVID-19 and global protests related to racism as historic teachable moments. Will the pandemic and discord about social injustice fundamentally alter our investments in disease prevention and employee and community health?

Is well-being as much a function of a group as it is predicated on individual resiliency or personal circumstance? This year’s Forum20 draws on award winning research on collective well-being conducted by Drs. Roy, Riley, Sears and Rula. Their study systematically examined how researchers have captured precepts of the socio-ecological framework and how often peer-reviewed papers have included multiple dimensions of well-being. Their review of the literature led them to posit that five domains are needed to advance a more actionable framework to achieve collective well-being. Their collective well-being domains are “vitality, opportunity, connectedness, contribution and inspiration.” We will examine these domains in our keynote sessions at Forum20 while invited practitioners and researchers in over 25 breakout presentations inspire from these collective well-being domains alongside the component parts of the socio-ecological framework: individual, interpersonal, organizational and environmental.

©2024 Health Enhancement Research Organization ‘HERO’


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