Bouncing Back & Moving Forward: At Once & Together

HERO conference planning meetings are idea fests. Interacting with passionate committee members, researchers, and practitioners alike, is a treasured part of my week as I bask in their passion, lived experiences, and well-earned opinions. I’ve assumed committee volunteers add planning duties to their already herculean to-do lists because they know no one gains more by way of professional development than those setting the nation’s learning agenda and then facilitating conference faculty and think tank activities. One of many edifying moments this past year came as we debated a specialty summit theme. There was agreement that examining emotional resilience and skills relating to “bouncing back” would be a timely learning objective during an unprecedented pandemic. But the committee also worried that a focus on recovering from trauma may tilt our profession too far into therapeutics and contradict our profession’s prevention orientation.

“How can organizations be striving to thrive if we turn their gaze to all the suffering?” asked one member. “We need to bounce back while moving forward,” another of our members said earnestly. “How can we create a summit where we balance the importance of healing with the imperative to innovate in our approaches to achieving well-being?” It is countless moments like these, week after week, that shape HERO’s research and learning agenda. Engaged HERO members catalyze our standing as a place where lovers of learning and champions for well-being can come together and shape the direction of our profession. That summit’s learning objectives exemplified how I’ve observed HERO members mobilizing as a professional community in 2021. The syndemic of an infectious disease exacerbated by racial dis-ease needed to be dealt with as a time to pause, reflect, and respond. But, paradoxically, a syndemic can propel opportunities for learning and growth. It is often said that in the Chinese language the word “crisis” means danger plus opportunity. One language scholar, however, argues that a more accurate translation places a crisis as an “incipient moment,” that is, a time when something begins to change.

The Japanese word “kaizen” means “good change” (kai means change and zen means good). It bespeaks a quality improvement philosophy where constant change is equated with getting better and better. At first glance, metaphorically bouncing back while moving forward would seem to be physically awkward if not mechanically impossible. But those of you schooled in kinesiology know that athletes become highly skilled at converting motion going in one direction into an amazing amount of force going in a different direction. Think of Simone Biles sprinting headlong at a vaulting board. Just before crashing into an immovable vaulting horse, Biles and the board turn a collision into ballistic launch with multiple flips and twists, that go ten feet high. It’s an inimitable trick called, of course, “The Biles.” But, more than bringing the world a unique gymnastics trick, Biles took a break from this stressful feat and showed the world that an athlete’s mental health is every bit as important as garnering more medals. Biles, along with other leaders like Michael Phelps and Naomi Osaka, converted personal crisis into incipient moments, into a time to confront and reduce stigma about mental health problems.

Reflecting on 2021 and planning for 2022, HERO will also view the syndemic of these past two years as a crisis that can be cause for an incipient moment in our discipline of advancing workplace, community, and personal health and well-being. Our learning agenda for the coming year builds on this paradoxical time in our profession, where recovering from setbacks WHILE imagining new possibilities are concomitant feats we’ll try to master. Hard to do, if not impossible? It may seem so, but not when you’re sitting in a HERO Committee. Today’s seemingly immovable problems don’t collide, they get launched into high-flying new ways to support health and well-being for all.

-By: Paul Terry, HERO Senior Fellow

HEROForum 2021 A Virtual Conference - Bouncing Back: Boosting Mental Resilience and Building Organizational Immunity

HEROForum21 Proceedings Now Available!

Read Forum21 Proceedings

HERO Upcoming Events

Winter Think Tank 2022

Changing Boundaries, Changing Benefits: How Employee Well-being Approaches are adapting to the New Ways We Work

Date & Time TBD

Building on HERO’s 2021 Forum, where we examined how the syndemic of COVID-19 and racial strife has challenged individual, and organizational resiliency, in the 2022 Winter Think Tank we will examine how organizations that are chronically adapting their workplace cultures are also revisiting their approaches to supporting employee well-being.


How the Choices We Have Influence the Choices We Make: Diversity, Inclusion, and the Integration of Lifestyle Medicine and Population Health Promotion

Sept 19-23, 2022 | Amelia Island, FL

By juxtaposing lifestyle medicine and population health principles, we hope to assess the role of all of the determinants of health: lifestyle, social issues, race and racism, class, and environment. Our thesis is that lifestyle medicine and population health are occurring in siloes, but a more intentional integration of these approaches, one that puts diversity and inclusion at the forefront, will be the best way to solve health inequities and reverse intractable disease trends. If the health choices we make are indeed a major determinant of health and well-being, this conference is dedicated to advancing transformative ideas for improving the health choices we have.


HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer©

HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer©

International Scorecard Version 2.0 Coming Soon!

Version 2.0 of the International HERO Scorecard will be released in early 2022. New questions were added to this new version related to employer involvement in the community; mental and emotional well-being; social determinants of health; integration with diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a broader value proposition for investment in employee health and well-being.

Take the Scorecard Today!


The Learning Series

What Works Best in Promoting and Protecting Mental Health? Featuring a New Consensus Study

January 20, 2022 | 10:00 am CT

Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, Mental Health Foundation

Could it be that “fundamentals of life” are also fundamental to maintaining mental health? This webinar features findings from a Delphi research methodology that sought expert and public input into effective mental health messaging. In particular, study authors aimed to highlight those behaviors that were most actionable and highly likely to prevent mental illness. Published in September 2021 in the American Journal of Health Promotion, the study is already one of the most cited and downloaded studies of the year, and study findings have been featured extensively in the popular press in America and abroad.

Our webinar guest, Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, is a Director at the Mental Health Foundation where he leads the public mental health research, programs, and policy functions in England and Wales. Dr. Kousoulis emphasizes that instead of buying into “miracle cures,” people should use “preventative self-management actions” such as improving sleep habits, helping others, and being open to new experiences to prevent poor mental health. In this webinar, we will discuss how the study’s findings can be used to encourage business and community leaders to “take action that empowers people to better look after their own mental health,” including making the means to practice these behaviors available to all.



HAPPY HOLIDAYS! from the HERO family!

©2024 Health Enhancement Research Organization ‘HERO’


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