For the full interview, go the AJHP at:

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

HEROForum20 begins next week! 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 3

HERO: At HERO Forum on September 8th, you’ll be our opening presenter as we explore “collective well-being.” In your book, Brave Enough, you describe what it’s like to struggle through addiction including why you made decisions about trying different therapies and therapists. You write about the powerful influence of others as well as your own decision making process as it influenced your recovery. How would you weigh the influence of personal agency compared to group support?

Jessie Diggins: I guess I would say it’s 50/50. A lot of times I had to pull the trigger on the change. But the need for change was pointed out to me by someone who I trusted. So, it’s like what we were talking about before about with surrounding yourself with great people. You need to let them do their work also. I feel like I was able to surround myself with such wonderful assets, with a really loving supportive team. It may be your parents, a friend, a partner, coworkers or other people who you think really have your best interest at heart, but you need people who are going to give it to you straight if something isn’t working. We all need someone who’s going to give us some honest feedback. For example, when I was deciding whether to change my therapist, my parents said, ‘This isn’t working. You’re still pretty caught in your eating disorder.’ It was then that it was okay to accept what was not working, so the action item was to change therapists.

The example we discussed earlier about trust issues and my decision to drop out of a race is similar. I knew my brain was telling me that this isn’t working, so the action was to drop out of the race instead of just continuing forward on a path that wasn’t working. Assessing feedback from myself and others I trust is something that I work on a lot, especially with my sports psychologist. We all get feedback all the time from different avenues every single day. If something isn’t working, we have the choice of just plowing forward anyway or taking the action item of changing it. Something I do pride myself on is being willing and able to change a situation or take myself out of the situation if that’s what it needs to be. I think it is important to know that we don’t have to stay on one track if it isn’t working. Sometimes we get scared because we think, ‘Oh, there’s this cost, we’ve already put all this effort into this one track, we need to see it through.’ But it might be better to try another tactic, and be aware that making a change might work out better.

HERO: Brave Enough also offers very intimate and sometimes raw details about your recovery from bulimia. One of your goals has been to break down stigma about mental health issues and challenge those who are insensitive to body image issues.

Jessie Diggins: As someone who has been through an eating disorder, I offer a disclaimer that I’m not an expert, but I do understand what it is to go through. So if I hear another top athlete say, ‘Oh, big race coming up, time to drop all the weight and to get skinny,’ I might say, ‘Hey, just so you know, there are 13-year-old girls out there who are listening to every word you say. Maybe you don’t need to say that because between you and your buddies it’s a joke, but these teens may not perceive that.’ Or as a different example, there are times where I feel it is appropriate to be very gentle with someone who says the wrong things. I’m not trying to shame anyone, so I may gently point out, ‘Hey, just so you know this comment could be taken the wrong way and it could be hurtful to somebody. I know that wasn’t your intention, which is why I’m telling you this, so that you know.’ I think there are many ways and opportunities to educate people around us when it’s clear that they are not aware that they are making comments that are likely negative triggers for others.

HERO: You won the Gold with your long-time mentor and teammate, Kikkan Randal, who has an amazing professional athlete’s biography. You often credit Kikkan as a key figure in the collective well-being you and your teammates experienced. What have you learned from her as a great skier and leader?

Jessie Diggins: I think one of her greatest qualities is her willingness to share. Obviously, like you said, she has a million admirable qualities. But one of her attributes that is a little more unique, and is so important but often overlooked, is her willingness to share what she’s learned. A lot of people might say, ‘Yeah, I figured out how to be a great skier. I figured it out on my own. Why would I tell anyone else? I don’t owe it to anyone else. I’ll just race fast and nobody can train with me.’ This being the sporting world, no one really thinks twice when someone believes that. But I think that her sharing her learning was really, really admirable. I’ve personally benefited from her decision to say, ‘I recognize that there are team events and I’ll benefit from sharing what I’ve learned with everyone else. If I share my training experiences, I’ll get training partners and this is how we grow.’ But that’s not completely unique to her as there are many other women and men on the US ski team that share. Obviously, we all buy in and share but that’s something that she’s done so well. Kikkan doesn’t keep things so close to the vest. She’s always been willing to say, ‘Here’s what I’ve learned; let’s sit down and let’s talk about it. You don’t need to go figure it out on your own.’ It’s that willingness to put aside one’s ego in order to ultimately get to the end goal, which is having teammates who can win an Olympic medal as a team.


For more about Jessie Diggins, visit:

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 beginning next week!

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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