Friday, April 14, 2006

The Power of One

Hi! It's Betsy. I'm just here for a brief blink of time before whirling off again. I'll be back by the end of next week. I am so grateful to Jim for really keeping the blog going here. It is a big task to lay on since it turns into a one-person show pretty quickly. Thank you, Jim!

But that leads into my blog point du jour... The power of one. One negative person can really sway a group and poison it. I saw that recently. Somebody who is very witty but has a razor-sharp tongue was thrust into a group of very confident and competent people. And even that group skittered around a bit like antelope around a hungry lion when that person unsheathed the claws the first time. While the laughter was real, there was also that uneasy undertone that says, "Wow, that was funny, but I hope you never say that about me!" Fortunately, that solid group of confident, competent soldiered on despite that first uneasiness and the claws went back in and our wit became a working member of good worth. A less confident and experienced group of people might have been overwhelmed and poisoned by the razor-tongued wit.

The flip side is true, though. A person who is consistently full of hope and leads people in optimism and vision can make a positive difference. A group that is shattered and leaderless can be pulled together or healed by such a person, whether that person becomes the leader or not. The individual may not even get the credit for the difference that he or she made in the group.

Many academic librarians, professors and even students note class "personalities." These can be easily seen in all types of schools -- there are outgoing "party" classes, studious classes, competitive classes and cooperative classes. Often you can see the difference one person makes in a group -- sometimes that is what makes a class "personality" -- a single individual who puts a strong stamp on the group. What can be so easily noted in classes as students pass through a school year by year happens in other groups as well. This is the nature of group dynamics: The Power of One!

I have illustrated this short essay with a photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life is a pretty dramatic illustration of the Power of One.

1 comment:

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