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What are we focused on? How can we move forward in the hardest times?

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As We Move Forward: Never Give Up Your Dreams

Dreams have always been an important part of the human experience. Some of our earliest experiences as tiny babies involves responding to bright colors, shiny objects, movement of all kinds. Are these babies having dreams? We don’t know, but the responses to these stimuli seems to evoke pleasant responses. Playing simple games like “peek a boo” appears to elicit dream like responses.

Later, as children play independently and then in groups, the focus of the play takes on the characteristics of acting out dreams. This play simulates real life activities that the children see going on around them. Playing house, school, store and other observed adult activities helps children dream about the possibilities that lie ahead for them.

DreamingThe dreams that start at this point in life further develop dreams about what we will do as we grow up. These dreams not only help shape our goals for the future, they also help solidify our beliefs and values. It is exciting as a child to begin to discover interests and talents and to dream about how these can be woven into the fabric of our lives.

Some extreme examples of this involve children whose abilities are recognized and honed in the hopes of achieving mastery of a physical, mental, musical skill. Every two years, in Olympic competition, we see young people whose dreams have been cultivated in the context of extreme discipline, all focused on a particular goal. It takes a lot to sustain that discipline and focus while holding on to the dream that motivated it.

We will never know how many people have the dream of being an entertainer and go through an equally demand process of seeking fulfillment in living out the dream. Again, there is no way to really know how many people start with those dreams of stardom and realize a somewhat different outcome.

The fact is most of us start life with those childhood dreams that had no boundaries. Sometimes the limits in our lives lead us to live out our dreams in other ways. I have had several dreams about the direction my life would take. At the root of all my dreams has been a desire to help people become the best they can. Several dreams were not possible or at least not practical because of certain abilities I simply do not possess. Pursuing our dreams does not always mean we will be appreciated. I have had people who were part of the reason for acting on a particular dream who have not appreciated the effort and who have even rejected me. None of these things take away from the dreams I have.

Vision and DreamAs we move forward, I ask you to join me in thinking about some of the dreams in your life. What dreams do you recall from earlier in your life, and what dreams are part of your life today? Before you are tempted to say you do have any dreams, answer this question, ”What would you do if time, money or any circumstance didn’t hold you back?” That may be one of your dreams.

Your dreams may find expression in the relationships you have, your hobbies or outside interests. As we move forward, let’s rekindle our forgotten dreams. Whatever we do, let us determine to never give up our dreams. They help make us the best person we can be. Our world needs that. Our world needs our dreams.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: Pick Your Battles

StudentsThe college I attended changed the degree requirements of my major during my junior year. One of the changes called for every senior with this major to take an examination in this subject area as a requirement for graduating with this major. I reviewed the degree requirements in place when I began my major and determined that I had completed the requirements for the degree that were in place when I began.

When the chairman of the department announced the time and place of the examination and that all seniors expecting to graduate with this major were required to take it, I informed him that because I had completed the requirements in place when I began, I was respectfully declining to take this examination.

As a result of that I found myself in the academic dean’s office. After I explained to him that I had completed the degree requirements that existed when I had begun my major, I told him I was respectfully declining to take this examination.

He looked at me and said, ”David you’re right. You do not have to sit for this exam.” He paused and continued, ”Some day a request for a recommendation for you will come across my desk. Your decision regarding this examination will have a direct bearing on my recommendation. You need to pick your battles.“

I took the examination. I passed. I decided that the risk of some future recommendation having a negative impact on something I could not even envision at the time was just too big a risk for me to take. His challenge to pick my battles has stuck with me. Picking our battles involves a very complex process of decision making.

It is important to ask if the cause behind the battle is right and if I have the right to what I am fighting for. This calls for diligent soul searching and coming to terms with our core values. People were held to be accountable for atrocities they committed as part of the Third Reich during World War II. Personal accountability and the consequences of our actions comprise a large part of picking our battles.

Asking if we have a reasonable expectation of success and if that expectation is worth the risks goes a long way to inform our decision as to which battles to pick. Some people respond out of anger in nearly every situation in their lives. It is as if they believe everyone in the universe starts every day trying to see what they can do to make this person’s life miserable. As when trying to help a trapped or injured animal, every move toward them takes on the same intensity. The response is attack that comes from pain or fear. Texting in all capital letters is an example of this no filters response. Everything seems to set these people off, and their response is always loud and heated. Panic seems their initial response to every situation.

Many of us know someone who responds with that same high volume of hostility and antagonism in nearly every situation. Picking a battle with someone who responds in this way leads to exhaustion and frustration.

As we move forward, we want to pick battles that will accomplish something useful in our lives and in the lives of others. We might take on a battle because it is the right thing to do, but we will do it with an understanding of what is at stake and what the outcome is likely to be.

Picking our battles rises from maturity. Experience helps guide this maturity. Join me as we pick our battles based on the best information we have so we can feel good both about the battles we pick and the ones we avoid.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: Consider Your Legacy

When most people think of a legacy, images of wealth, power and fame come to mind. Some of the most intriguing fairy tales of all time have the prince falling in love with the beautiful girl. They go to the castle where the story ends with them living happily ever after. I grew up in a resort community where wealthy people owned summer homes. As I saw those homes, I imagined the lives of people who could spend their summers in those beautiful homes. Over the years, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the young people from some of those families. I was pleasantly surprised at how much alike we were even though our lives and legacies were different in so many ways.

I have had the privilege of traveling in forty-nine of the fifty states in the USA. I have actually spent some time in a number of states. It has been fascinating to explore the legacies of people from different geographic backgrounds. Obviously, the legacy we have each received is made up of many different pieces. Each is unique, and each is ongoing.

ChildWho we are at any given moment in our lives is influenced by an almost unlimited set of factors. Obviously, at birth we arrive with a genetic legacy, but our entry into the world also presents us with a whole set of environmental, social and physical conditions. There is a lot of evidence to support the theory that what happens in the very early portion of our life has a lasting impact on who we are throughout life. That, too, is a part of the legacy we receive.

An immeasurable number of people and circumstances influence us and become part of our legacy as we go through life. Think back to your earliest childhood memories. Who are the people and what are the events that seem most vivid to you. Hopefully, most of these are positive. This would mean you received a legacy upon which to build a happy, productive life. If most or all of these events and people were not positive, then your legacy might look much different.

Major events, like illness or loss, moving to a new location and so many other factors go into forming the legacy we each receive. Is there someone you can point to as the one who influenced your life in a major way? Have you looked at someone as a role model for the way you would like to live your life? Did you have an experience in life that shaped or helped confirm the direction in your life? All these things are a part of your legacy.

As we move forward, it is important to realize these things are still going on in our lives. Are there still people or events who help shape the direction of your life? Are there still people you view as role models for what you desire your life to be? We never stop being influenced by the people and events around us.

Part of our moving forward is to realize we also have a legacy to pass on to other people. Who are the people who see you as someone important in their lives? In addition to the obvious answer of people we are in a close relationship with, who are others who may see us in a still more casual way and still be influenced by us?

Thinking of the legacy we are leaving others might be an opportunity to objectively look at our lives and ask if we are the person we would want to be seen as a role model to others. Seeing ourselves as others see us can be helpful in evaluating where we are at the moment in the journey of living. As we move forward, let us remember that the legacy we are leaving for others is the special, unique contribution we make in the lives of others. Join with me in creating the best legacy we can and enjoying the experience.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: Make New Mistakes

I have never met anyone who had never made a mistake. I did hear about one person who said he thought he had made a mistake once, but he was wrong! For Consequencesthe rest of us, making mistakes goes right along with the risks that are a natural part of life. Little children routinely make mistakes as a part of learning to play. Kindergarten and first-grade teachers keep extra clothes because often children make mistakes about bodily functions and the frequency of needing to use the bathroom.

Learning things like arithmetic and spelling as well as sounding out words while learning to read involve trying, which consists of a combination of success and the making of mistakes. Discovering those things that tend to lead to more victories than errors helps us figure out the direction in our lives that lead to the most satisfaction. As we move through life, both the consequences of our mistakes and the positive outcomes of our success should combine to form the people we come to be as adults.

As we move through the teen years and into adulthood, more and more of the things that happen in our lives depend on the choices we make. We choose the friends we associate with, the activities we invest our time and energy in and the direction our life rakes as we reach the point where the decisions and the outcomes we experience are ours.

As behavior patterns and habits become established in us as adults, we will continue to make mistakes. While the premise behind our making mistakes while growing up was that we would learn from our mistakes and grow from having made them, we find that often as adults our mistakes become ingrained patterns of behavior. It would be easy to assemble a list of errors people make over and over, seemingly learning nothing from them. Take a minute and ask yourself what mistakes of that type are part of your life. What do you do over and over, telling yourself you will change?

Are there things you have resigned yourself to in your life? There is no benefit to be obtained from these mistakes. Their outcome is predictable. Making the same mistakes over and over can lead to discouragement and boredom. We might even come to the point of merely being resigned to living a life we believe we are powerless to change. Is there any part of your life that feels like that?

DecisionsAt specific points in our lives, we may want to consider making the kind of changes that seemed so exciting earlier in our lives. Now that we are more mature and hopefully wiser, we may see once again a vision of what is possible. What might happen if we were to make one or more of these changes? Many things might happen.

One thing that is apparent is that we will make mistakes. When we try new things, some will work and some won’t. The critical thing in this circumstance is to create different blunders. Make mistakes from which we will learn and grow. Make new mistakes from which lives–ours and others’ will be better.

As we move forward, let’s resolve to learn from and be guided by the past. Let us decide not to be limited by the past. I honestly believe I have learned more from the mistakes I have made than from the things I have done right. As I look to the future, I am excited about the possibilities. I want as many of the mistakes I will make to be new ones, mistakes from which I will learn and grow. I hope I never become discouraged about past mistakes or afraid of creating new ones. I hope you feel the same way.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: One Day At A Time

Kid playing guitar at homeWe all know that the only moment we have is the one we are in presently. We may wish to, but we cannot relive the past, and despite hoping and planning and even wishing, the future is still just that—the future. It has not come, and when it does arrive, it is often much different than we thought it would be.

Little children are often told not to try to grow up too fast, to enjoy their childhood. This statement is interesting because much of a child’s time and energy is spent playing at what it is like to be an adult. Conversely, some older adults seem only to want to remember their past. It appears as if we live our lives between the past and the future, trying to find the balance of the present. So many things seem to make that balance challenging to achieve, let alone maintain.

Throughout our lives, we wait eagerly for so many things. We anticipate the start of school, look forward to celebrating things like birthdays and Christmas. We look forward to having someone special visit us. We wait until we are old enough for milestones. For instance, joining a particular organization or team. We look forward to being able to drive. The list goes on and on.

Many things can make it difficult to live in the moment, to take life one day at a time. A sudden loss or the diagnosis of an illness on the part of ourselves or someone close to us can make us anxious for another time. Many people in circumstances of drastic external change express the desire to “get their life back,” to return to a time when things were or at least seemed more straightforward and to make more sense than what was going on in the present moment. It is hard to live one day at a time when we do not like what our life experience at the moment is.

There is a difference between liking the life we have today and being content with our life as it is in the present. Being content may involve accepting some things we cannot change. It can also include being ok with things as they are for the moment. It is a mark of real maturity to be able to focus your energy and attention what is occurring right now. The operative word in living one day at a time is balance. Living in the moment does not mean we can not have fond memories of the past and hopes for the future. Instead, it is the realization that where we are right now is the very best place we can be today.

Time ClocksAs a way of living in the present, look at your life concerning what has gone before and what you think or hope will come after. Start with some easy comparisons, especially if there are some painful memories from your past or some real or imagined fears about what the future might hold for you. Given that today is the reality each of us has, how can we make the most of right now. How can we live the best today possible?

This practice is not easy, and sometimes we will make mistakes. We may at times disappoint ourselves or others. A goal as we move forward is to look back on each day and know we did the best we could do given what we know and what we have to use. That is the day to day secret to a life well lived. I hope you enjoy the journey and become really good at moving forward the only way we can–one day at a time.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: Signs of a Good Relationship

Friends

We live in all sorts of relationships. These begin at birth, and unless we spend our last days alone on a desert island, they continue for our entire life. We choose several of these relationships, but many are the result of circumstances over which we have little or no control. There has been much study as well as much debate over just what effect these relationships have in forming the person we become, but we know that relationships can have a lifelong influence on each of us. The discussion is ongoing about the role of nature versus nurture in shaping and defining our personality. What is clear is that from the very beginning, the relationships we are part of are vital to who we are.

Some of our earliest relationships, such as family, neighborhood, social groupings such as our neighborhood and our school, although mainly beyond our control, play a significant role in shaping our development and determining the kind of adult we become.

Abuse, neglect, ridicule, and bullying at an early age have been shown to have a lasting effect on people. Care, affirmation, support, and encouragement early in life also have demonstrated  that they leave their positive influence. KidsNone of these explains thoroughly why each of us becomes the person we develop into, but these and other factors present in the early relationships over which we often have little or no control seem to guide and inform the choices we make for the relationships we have some say in forming.

If our early relationships were by fear, mistrust, anger or other harmful or painful factors, we would likely base the relationships we choose to form at least in part on these things. It is difficult to establish relationships based on positive factors if all or most of what we have experienced are not positive. A crisis such as a loss or severe illness in the framework of some of our early relationships can be challenging to overcome as we form relationships on our own.

Even as adults, we often are part of relationships we do not choose. Our work may be a place where we find ourselves in relationships we do not or would not wish. To be successful in some of these relationships, you might find it helpful to think about some of the foundational ingredients that go into making healthy relationships. It would be wonderful if each of our relationships were with people we like and with whom we agree on everything. Unfortunately,  that is not always the case.

CoffeeMutual recognition and acceptance of people we do not agree with can be a challenge. A fundamental willingness to agree to disagree can be the basis for a satisfying relationship with someone whose ideas are different than ours. One of the more difficult aspects of this type of relationship is to keep harsh judgment and the struggle to exert power out of the relationship. It is hard and painful to stay in a relationship built on conflict and the willingness to inflict hurt for the sake of maintaining power over someone.

It can take serious self-examination to determine if it makes sense to enter or remain in that type of relationship. It is fascinating to have relationships with people who differ in their ideas from us. Keeping conflict and hurt out leaves the possibility for learning from someone whose view of the world may be vastly different from yours.

It is sometimes difficult to realize that some relationships are only for a season. This fact can be both painful and comforting. It is occasionally possible to endure a challenging relationship if we know it will not last forever. ThinkingSadly, that can also happen in relationships we thoroughly enjoy. It  might be helpful to think of the impact on our lives that each of our friendships had at this time.

I would invite you to think about three or four relationships in your life. What do/did you enjoy about each of them? What do/did you wish could be/have been different? If the relationship was in your past, what have you learned from it that helps you in current relationships? If the relationship is current, what can you do to make it better?

Barring that isolated desert island, we will be in relationships the rest of our lives. Let’s do all we can to make each one the best it can be from our perspective, and let’s choose relationships that have the most potential to bring fulfillment and satisfaction to us and those with whom we are in relationships.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

We also have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom. Subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and more!

As We Move Forward: We Hold These Truths….

Declaration of IndependenceThe opening words of the Declaration of Independence are among the most powerful words ever written. They speak to the fact that certain truths are fundamental to the basic understandings that both individuals and societies have about themselves. We are learning truth from the moment we are born-some theorize even before that. The nature of the truths we embrace and believe is shaped by those influences, both people and circumstances, that make up the world around us.

As we mature, and as our experience of the world around us expands, the truths we embrace can grow, develop and sometimes even change as we do. Truth can be spoken of as a basic component of who we are. I can be deprived of many things and adjust and survive, but removing or changing truths changes who I am as an individual.

That is why the authors of the Declaration of Independence began by naming and asserting basic truths that are at the core of the historic statement they were making. They did not say their list of truths are the complete list of truths that exist. By listing them as rights and as self evident, they declared these truths as unable to be removed. By naming the source of these rights and stating that they are for everyone, they declared them as absolute truths.

Do you believe there are absolute truths? What would one be? Where and from whom did you first learn it? How far would you go to defend that truth? Do most other people seem to accept this as a truth? How does the response of others make you feel?

PenIf you were writing the Declaration of Independence and had finished the beginning of the phrase, “We hold these truths….”, what would your list include? Can you list any other truths that you think others would agree with you are basic and essential enough to have a revolution over? Do you think most people agree with the three in this original document?

The truths we believe are at the core of who we are and what we do. To be in meaningful relationships we must agree on what are truths. Are you in any relationships where there is basic disagreement on what is truth? How difficult is it for you to keep your part of that relationship going? How much energy do you expend just keeping things civil?

Now, think of relationships where there is basic agreement on what truth is. How much more can be accomplished in these relationships? How much more enjoyable and satisfying is it to be  in this kind of relationship?

PeopleWe will not always agree with everyone in our lives about what truth us. We live in a time when that seems elusive for many people. The most we can hope for in cases of disagreement is honest discussion of our differences, based on mutual respect and a shared desire for understanding.

As we move forward, knowing what we believe and hold as truth and a desire to recognize that same desire in others can help us concentrate on our strengths and allow us to achieve the same goals as those who wrote, “We hold these truths….”

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Understanding Our Motivation

MorningWhy do you get up each morning and do what you do each day? On the surface, that may seem like an obvious question. Looking a little deeper into what is going on within us as we move through our days can help us gain a deeper understanding of the why behind some of our basic and most routine actions. It is likely your day’s activities are driven by a number of factors. Choices you have made at various times in the past may determine where you live, where you do the thing you have chosen to fill the majority of your time. How you feel about any and all of these factors in your life will play a bit part in your motivation to do the things that you do to occupy your day.

How do you feel about the activities in your day and the people you will be spending your day with? Are simply trading your time for something like money or advancement in knowledge, or  do you see your days spent in meaningful activities that improve the quality of life for people, yourself included? The answers to these questions have a real bearing on your motivation toThinking live each day to its full potential.

Are you able to use your skills, knowledge and abilities during your day to do things that bring you satisfaction? Do you believe others appreciate what you do in your days? One of the reasons the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” continues to be popular year after year is that is shows the impact an ordinary person has on his environment and what a loss his not being there brings to his world. Whose life are you making better by being part of their world?

Sometimes catastrophic events happen in our lives or the lives of those around us. Finding the motivation to adjust to those major events brings us face to face with our motivation as we struggle to adjust to outside forces that bring sweeping changes to us and those around us.

One way to look at your motivation is to determine if you are someone who sees everything in terms of the effect it has on you or something who is always looking at how things affect other people and how you can be of support to them as they live their days. You will understand a lot of your motivation if you discover where you are in that area of life.

Are you basically a happy person? Would others describe you as happy? Even happy people struggle and get discouraged. A lot of understanding about our motivation can be learned by honestly looking at that aspect of life.

The great thing about understanding our motivation is that there are always things we can do to improve things. Even if you discover an overwhelming number of things in your life that seem beyond your control, there are always things you can change. What is one thing in your day you can change that is so simple you cannot fail at it? Take a walk, smile at one person, wish someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook. These and countless other things can give you something to look forward to and brighten someone’s day.

As we move forward, it is my hope that we will each gain a greater understanding of our own motivation so for ourselves and others we can make things just a little better each day. I want each of us to have a positive answer to the question,”Why do you get up each morning and do what you do each day?” Because I can make a difference to myself and others!

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Character

It has been said that a way to understand our character is to think about what we would do if we knew no one would ever find out. A person of good character would be someone who does the right thing simply because it is the right thing, and for any personal motive.

Alone How we resolve the things that confront us in our lives is directly related on our response in these situations. Since our responses are determined by our character, it really matters what our character is. It has been observed that certain character traits seem to be identified with positive outcomes while others seem to be present when the outcome is negative. While there is not a hard and fast connection between character traits and outcomes, the tendencies are real. It cannot be said good people are always more successful than bad people, although the trends do exist.

There are various lists of what constitutes good character. The common ingredient in these lists seems to be putting the needs of others ahead of our own. It can be said that a person of good character is selfless while someone of poor character could be call selfish or at least self-centered.

Character develops. A tiny baby is totally self-centered, concerned only with getting its own needs met. While that is perfectly normal and acceptable in a baby, a self-centered adult is very difficult to be around. Sharing is a difficult thing for most children to learn. Sharing is crucial to establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships. The same can be said of character traits like honesty and integrity, dependability.

It is open to discussion whether and to what extent we can determine and develop character traits in ourselves and others. Parents and teachers have done many things in the of instilling character in young people. The whole self-improvement culture has been centered around identifying and developing positive character traits and eliminating negative ones from our lives.

How would you describe your character? What are your positive character traits? Do you have negative character traits? How would other people describe your character? What things do you do when you know no one is watching? Do you do the right thing just because it is the right thing?

CharacterMany people believe character can be developed and that we can train ourselves to be stronger in demonstrating certain behavior characteristics. Benjamin Franklin had a  program in which he identified character traits that he wanted to improve in his own life and a plan for focusing on each of these for a week at a time.

As we move forward, it is important to come to terms with our own character. It might be helpful to think of people we know who are examples either of character we admire or want to avoid. It might be valuable to look at our own character in terms of how others respond to us. You may even have a few trusted people with whom you can discuss your character. Either way, self-understanding is an important starting point.

A goal might be to identify one character trait you would like to develop or build. A second step might be to identify a character trait that seems to be holding you back in some way. See if there is a way you can minimize or even eliminate this. Have fun with becoming more the person you know you are meant to be.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Belonging

BelongingIt is essential to every person to have a sense of belonging. The model of the family forms the ideal environment for a person to find love, protection, nurture, education and so much more. For the rest of our lives, we seek ways to belong. The things we do to belong say a lot about who we are and what is really important to us.

Where do you find your sense of belonging? Many people in our complex culture find it increasingly difficult to have the experience of belonging anywhere. A big part of belonging includes shared values.

A big part of belonging is being able to trust others in a relationship where we belong to accept us for who we are. I have maintained for many years that it is more important for someone to respect me than to like me. That is primarily because liking some is basically a feeling based response over which we have little if any control. Respect is something which can be freely offered to another person. I have said many times that when there is no longer mutual respect between me and someone with whom I have a relationship, there needs to be serious discussion about the nature of the relationship.

FriendsHaving a relationship with a sense of belonging includes respect but goes beyond that. The essence of a relationship that brings with it the sense of belonging keeps coming back to essentials like core values and beliefs. I feel safe around people with whom I share core values, like honesty and integrity. I can disagree with people in this type of relationship as long as our mutually held values and beliefs are not violated.

This actually sounds more complicated than it really is. Do you have, or have you ever had, a best friend? What makes this relationship so special? Perhaps you have known this person for a major portion of your life. Many people share that they have others they see more often and interact with more frequently than their best friends. It follows from this that is the quality of the relationship more than the quantity of time spent together that makes this special friendship a place where we feel that sense of belonging.

We experience degrees of bonding in various relationships. Fans of athletic teams can experience a sense of belonging as they cheer for victory or agonize over defeat. The bond may or may not go deeper than the excitement of rooting for the same outcome. Hopefully the place you work gives you a sense of belonging. Much of that will depend on how much the values and culture are shared with you and how closely these mirror your own.

CrowdThe same can be said of a country. Our sense of belonging to our country is directly related to  how we believe these values to be a reflection of our own. When that does not occur or is disrupted, we may experience a sense of isolation and frustration. In a country as diverse as ours, it can sometimes be difficult to experience a sense of belonging. This is even more difficult in a time like this when modern communication sources give us so much information it can at times come across as information overload.

As we move forward, let us remember that our sense of belonging does not require us to agree on everything. We need to be constantly aware of our core values and beliefs so we can gauge all our relationships in terms of how closely they line up with those from whom we seek a sense of belonging. My hope is that each of us will find at least one place, and hopefully, several, where we can not only feel a sense of belonging, but offer that to others in our lives.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

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