The Power of Individuality
Professor and Chair
The College of St.
Duluth, MN 55811
“Individuality must be spontaneous; it can never be automatic.
The seed of freedom must be planted in the innermost being of man….”
-- Ernest Holmes
DEALS with the questions that center directly on individuality. Finding
the answers is a recognized challenge for certain, but it is a justified effort.
The “seed of freedom” springs from ideas planted in articles like this one.
The ideas help us to create a science of individuality. The discovery
itself is worth the stretch. How we think, why we stick to our guns
and the profoundness of our lack of change are not immutable facts.
By thinking, we can bring our individuality into perspective. Individuality
is therefore our highest order of something yet to realized, something yet
to deal with, and something that isn’t hidden from us if we are willing to
realize our fondest dreams. Since this is true, it follows that coming
to understand our innermost thoughts will help us come to terms with our
Organizations are filled with members who are guided by
different beliefs and faith. Their individuality is often a challenge
to understand. Sometimes the “challenge” is when we find ourselves
torn by different points of view. Emotions erupt, fear is aroused,
and conflict is certain; none of which will automatically set the stage for
success. But since it is the unknown that works against the members,
it is important to recognize what is known and thus the power in our individuality.
Let us realize that we are different, and that we work in different ways.
We can then expect that our outward manifestations have a direct link to
the power of our differences. These differences help each of us evolve
to a higher level of objective existence and interaction with each other.
Let us do away with the idea that we must all think alike.
Caught in just one way to think is to set the stage for “groupthink”.
Similarly, when members are convinced against their basic instinct, they
are still of the same thinking. Learning and growth take place as our
minds become attuned to the uncertainty in differences. It is the nature
of organizations, if not life, to value diversity, to proclaim the value
and power in individuality, and to study the inherent importance in different
viewpoints. Members who immerse themselves in this understanding will
share in the desired results, the truth, and the good that is realized with
shared thinking. They will come to believe in an unqualified faith
that their work is important and valued. It stands to reason then that
each member will do what it takes to get the job done. With their eyes
open and on the target, they will find their way together.
This will not seem strange to those who take time to study
the science of individuality. Diversity in thinking is important as
is shared thinking, and as we stand up to the obvious challenges before us.
It is our reality, and may our relationships with each other grow as we discover
the power in our differences. For it is certain that our individuality
is guiding us to become what we believe. It is the power within the
organization that overcomes obstacles since, “if we are for us and we are
critical to where we are going, then it doesn’t matter who is against us.”
This thinking allows us every opportunity to meet a new set of needs for
all exercise physiologists. Those needs could be stated as:
• Support individuality of members
the new reality of exercise physiology. It has changed the 20th century
assumptions about exercise physiology as a research driven field to a healthcare
profession. Certainly not all, even most, exercise physiologists have
accepted this change of thinking, but the underlying assumption that it is
imperative makes the older views contrary to the need for change. Hence,
the fundamental shift in thinking that has occurred is an exploration of
impressive individuality. Extraordinary beliefs, most unexamined for
decades, by individuals working on behalf of all exercise physiologists have
resulted in a monumental professional breakthrough between our past and the
future that lies ahead.
• Organize opportunities for members to demonstrate creativity
• Integrate new and different beliefs and values into ASEP
• Respond to concerns and issues of members
• Plan for partnering with all exercise physiologists
• Develop new and different professional services
• Integrate new technologies into the exercise physiology
• Plan for new healthcare problems and opportunities
It took the individuality of the ASEP members to turn the
ASEP dream into reality. Individually, each one believes in ASEP, and
its potential to guide us, to help us realize our untapped potential, and
to find our hidden resources critical to a tangible and positive future.
In other words, the notion that only one way is possible is wrong.
Every organization has members full of ideas, some are good and others are
not so good. No matter how different, there is power in the individuality
of what seems to be disconnected views. This is the truth and the first
step for all of us in the resculpting of our professional existence.
All individuals have unlimited positive potential to find new and better
ways to reinvent the community of exercise physiologists. The cost
of not acknowledging individuality is too much to pay to live by groupthink.
“Our reality is defined by how we choose to connect and
relate with everything and everybody around us. We create ourselves
by our curiosity, interest, and ability to make interdependent connections.
Each of us is inextricably pulled to the future. The reality of the
future is expressed in our potential to envision a different future.” – George
Land and Beth Jarman
with 100% commitment to a vision, who believe in the possibility of change,
and who are willing to embrace the minds of many, the creativity embedded
in their individuality, and align themselves with the right values, will come
out on top. Is there some risk to creating something new? Yes,
of course. There are always a variety of risks, whether they are emotional
and/or professional. George Land and Beth Jarman said it best, “To
laugh is to risk appearing foolish. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to
risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas and dreams before
the crowd is to risk loss….But risk we must because the greatest hazard is
to risk nothing at all.” [p. 161]
When individuals are encouraged to step forward to make
a point, to get involved in the decision-making, and to shape the organization,
there is a certain creativity that stems from opportunity. Well-managed
organizations are, to the extent possible, nonhierarchical. The leaders
value individuality and diversity. They understand the power of commitment
and creative solutions. Even mistakes are rewarded, especially within
the context of creativity and an atmosphere of trust and flexibility in thinking.
These factors underscore the magnificence of the ASEP organization whereby
each member is encouraged to live the shared vision, commit to its goals and
objectives, and help make exercise physiology a better career option while
being 100% him- or herself. The power of achievement within ASEP doesn’t
strip a person of his/her individuality. Instead, it brings forth opportunity
to integrate personal creativity with worthwhile changes within the organization.
“The very essence of leadership is you have to have a vision.
It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.
You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” -- Father Hesburg, former
president of Notre Dame
behind connecting individuals is a compelling vision that is shared by everyone
in the organization. As we connect and as we demonstrate our willingness
to recognize our individuality, our dream will unfold together and we will
know how we did it. We within ASEP are one community of exercise physiologists.
What we accomplish is a function of all of us, including our differences,
our individualized creativity, and our unwillingness to keep things as they
have always been. It was Gandhi who knew, “We must become the change
we seek in the world.” To do so requires breaking from the past and
letting go of outworn beliefs.
Letting go can be a complex emotion and, yet it doesn’t
have to be. For most of us, it is sign of something new. The
difficulty lies not with the solutions, but in giving up what is comfortable.
This is where individuality is valued because it gives rise to different
responses. Those who seem helpless to change can learn from those who
develop shared understandings. It is these individuals who help move
the organization forward and give it the corporate longevity it needs.
This is not a trivial point. Also, learning to trust the members’ individuality
of the new exercise physiology is no trivial point. Members must come
to terms with conflict over what is perceived as exercise physiology, defined
by its history, and their personal values.
Instinctively, individuals learn by doing and they know
the importance of experiences. Through experimentation with ideas,
conversations, and shared principles, our individuality comes through.
One benefit among others is that we learn to share our commitment and reward
the accomplishments of individuals in the organization. We learn also
to maintain perspective. Of course, according to Stephen R. Covey,
“The challenge is to be a light, not a judge, to be a model, not a critic.”
ASEP is working hard to be a “light and a model” for exercise
physiology. No matter where we have come from, no matter how well we
have done in publishing our research, and no matter our success in cardiac
rehabilitation, we have got to join together. Our strength lies in
our individuality; it is the key to igniting change and developing important
changes in exercise physiology. We understand that the beginning has
been achieved, and now we are thrilled to continue the ASEP path to professionalism.
Working together, without apology to anyone, we lift ourselves towards success.
We do regardless of the negative statements like “You can’t do it. ASEP will
never make it.” Resolve to think positive. ASEP is at the heart
of what is the future of exercise physiology. Be proud of your individuality,
and your way of thinking.
“The power of individuality lies in its collective networking.”
-- William T. Boone, Jr.
1. Land, G. & Jarman, B. (1992). Break-Point and
Beyond: Mastering the Future Today. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, p.
2. Covey, S.R. (1992). Principle-Centered Leadership.
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, p. 25.