Sara Swanson

Letter to the Editor: One plus one is more than two

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January 4, 2018

When I was a director of a small department at Chelsea Community Hospital my boss (Maggie Morehouse) taught me one of the best things I ever learned about leadership and life.

She said some people lead with an attitude of abundance. Working together, there is enough for everyone. Others lead with an attitude of scarcity. These leaders are concerned about getting their fair share. Their attitude leads to greed and stingy behavior.

That sense of abundance as a result of working together is the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation’s (5HF) Board of Director’s (BOD) approach to grant distribution. The BOD decided to allow the communities – not individual organizations – the opportunity to decide how each community’s share of the funds would be used. They are working together.

Even before the 5HF BOD made this decision, the Village of Manchester understood the concept. In 2010 the organizational leadership in Manchester came together and said to each other “If we compete against each other for 5 Healthy Towns Foundation funds we won’t be efficient – no one ‘wins.’ But if we come together and prioritize our needs, applying for funds together, we will be able to do more with less.”

What Maggie and Manchester understand is the quirk of nature that allows one plus one to equal more than two in certain circumstances. It can’t be explained, really. It’s a feeling and it’s contagious. And it’s fun.

How do I know it’s contagious? Because I’ve seen it in action many times. As an example, in 2015 one couple (Eric and Meagan) in a subdivision outside the city limits of Dexter wanted their subdivision connected to sidewalks in town. They rallied their neighbors, who rattled the cages of their township, Huron Waterloo Pathways, 5 Healthy Towns Foundation and Dexter’s Wellness Coalition. Now you can walk from their subdivision into town on a safe and well-maintained sidewalk. Everyone involved is proud of the outcome. If any one of those entities tried to accomplish the same thing alone that sidewalk would not be there now. One plus one is more than two.

The same thing happens with individual health. Most of us plug away, all alone, trying to exercise and eat veggies. Yet research shows we have more fun and are most successful in a class or with a partner. This research is the basis of training classes like pre-diabetes group education (often offered for free in 5HF’s Wellness Centers). In addition, you are more likely to complete a weight-loss program as part of a group than on your own, by a longshot.

You are more likely to show up and you will leave more determined and enthusiastic if you are exercising or learning as part of a group.  You are accountable to someone – both the instructor and your classmates. Group workouts tend to push participants further than they’d go on their own. Group exercise leads to a greater ‘high’ because endorphins are released from the workout but also from the positive interactions with classmates.

So for most of us, wherever two or more are gathered, we each benefit to a greater degree. And it’s contagious–so pass it on.

Amy Heydlauff, CEO of the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation

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