Friday, August 14, 2020
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James R. Auvil, OD, MBA, FAAO, CPC    

     I’ve spent a lot of time repeating myself over the last month, reassuring dozens of people over the phone, in person and by email that what I say is what I mean. I’ve reassured them that the FOS is actually an independent organization. I’ve reassured them that the FOS is not a political organization. I’ve reassured them that the FOS does not replace any other organization. This weekend I watched “The Way” thanks to the magic that is NetFlix. The movie stars Martin Sheen, who walks the 800km “El Camino de Santiago” across northern Spain to honor his son, who died after just one day on the path. Martin Sheen meets various characters along his journey including an eccentric writer from Ireland named Jack. Jack has been on the path for three months, trying to find greater meaning in life and inspiration to break his current bout of writer’s block. Jack tries too hard to find meaning where meaning does not exist.   He shares an experience in which he came across two dogs fighting outside a cheese farm. He struggles to find the deeper meaning, convinced the event represents some human metaphor. Another character, Sarah, responds, “Well, Jack, maybe a dog fight near a cheese farm is simply a dog fight near a cheese farm.”

    My experience in building the FOS, taking it public, and answering questions has exposed frank paranoia and insecurity that I did not know existed within our profession. One would think well-established organizations with vast financial resources wouldn’t pay an ounce of attention to a small, highly-specialized, member-focused organization such as the FOS. I’m learning that is not the case.

     For various reasons, existing organizations fear the FOS and have actually attempted to throw the burden of their failures and tainted histories onto the FOS, as if the FOS is a problem, rather than a solution.   The FOS can’t solve problems within other organizations, but it can meet some of the professional needs of its members. In fact, it can do that better than any other organization because the members dictate FOS functions and presentation content.

     The FOS is following a very interesting path, predictable as it may be, towards success, adhering very closely to a few theories including the rate of diffusion of innovation and the theory of reasoned action. I attribute its steady growth and future success to one fundamental concept: the FOS started with WHY not with WHAT. That key approach separates the FOS from most professional societies and associations. Members are joining for all the right reasons, because the FOS was established for all the right reasons.

I look forward to successful meetings in Atlanta this coming week. I hope to see you there.

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