Category Archives: As We Move Forward

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

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As We Move Forward: The Real I in Team

Team

We have all heard the phrase, “There is no I in team.” We have come to understand that to refer to the ideal of a team effort reflecting the combined efforts of everyone involved and not shining the light of the accomplishments of one individual to the exclusion of others.

We don’t have to go far to envision examples of this type of thing happening. We can all picture a sports team with one outstanding player and others of average abilities. In the interest of winning, it is easy to imagine focusing the efforts of the entire team on enhancing the efforts of that one person.

There are times and circumstances when a particular person is featured. Some examples could include a soloist in a musical performance, the star in a play, or someone seeking political office. In each of these cases, there is a team, but the recognition goes to the individual being featured.

What makes these situations different than the example in the opening paragraphs is the understanding that in the latter cases, the clear intent of the team’s effort is to showcase the talents and abilities of the featured individual in each case. The other members of teams with featured individuals don’t view their efforts as being overshadowed by the performance of one person.

Let’s look at what makes the difference. Looking at situations in which we work on projects as part of a team, how can we bring our best to each situation in terms of our talents and abilities without being concerned with who might get praise or recognition for what is accomplished.

It is important to ask what makes each of us want to bring our best to a situation where we are asked to be part of a team. If we can figure that out and come up with the necessary motivation to bring our best effort to each situation, then we really are bringing the real I to each team situation.

Team

As we move forward, we can look at every situation in life and ask how we can be the best we can possibly be in and for that particular situation. We can also ask how we can encourage others to want to bring their best to each situation. Imagine if each of us is putting forth as much talent and effort as we would if were the featured soloist or star. There is virtually no limit as to what we would be able to accomplish.

As we move forward, wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of a team where each of us is bringing the best I we can be to every situation. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to be part of that effort. The real I in team is there in the form of every member, but the I in team is silent.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Courage

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss. The classical virtue of fortitude is also translated “courage”, but includes the aspects of perseverance and patience.

Courageous

It appears that courage involves a set of circumstances where it would be reasonable to expect one type of response and action and having something else happens. Fear and anxiety are often the emotions taking place when courage is seen. There is usually some risk and or danger to be faced. The danger may be physical or emotional, but it is real nonetheless.

When thinking about courage, images come to mind of persons such as first responders or members of the military. Courage can also be found in relatively commonplace activities. Facing the start of school, especially at a new school, with different people, can be very intimidating and can call for tremendous courage.

We have heard stories of incredible acts of bravery, such as grabbing a child from the path of an oncoming vehicle. There are other situations, such as standing up to bullying of yourself or someone else requires courageous actions. One of the examples of courage in recent years that impresses me involves the police and firefighters at the Twin Towers on 911. As thousands were running from those buildings, these people ran in to help save people.

One of the more identifiable characters in literature encompassing the idea of courage would be the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. His search for courage is evident in his willingness to go to the Emerald City to see the Wizard in the hope of being given courage. His confidence in the liquid he is given to instill courage says a lot about the power of symbols in attaining courage.

How often simply acting for a higher purpose and in pursuit of a higher good has led to what would be identified as an act of courage. Courageous actions can clearly be seen as defining moments in our lives.

Heroes

As we move forward, we can look at those moments when we faced uncertainty, danger and or hostility. We can look at the decisions we made and see the outcomes of these decisions. We can also look at the lives of those close to us and see how they may be evidencing courage in the decisions they make.

A further step would be to recognize and encourage others as they make courageous decisions in their lives. Most everyone appreciates this kind of recognition. Recognizing and encouraging. Acts of courage can have a positive impact on our lives, the lives of others and ultimately on our world.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Preparation

Packing

Preparation is the action or process of making something ready for use or service or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty. It is implied in the understanding of preparation that movement from one situation to another involves effort, movement and sometimes a degree of risk and uncertainty.

Preparation may and often does happen in conjunction with other circumstances where the process is happening. One of the earliest and most dramatic examples of this multi-dimensional process of preparation that occurs around the birth of a child. As in this example, some of the preparation is natural and involuntary. Some is totally deliberate and intentional.

The unborn child makes incredible changes in the process of preparing to be born. Most of this preparation is simply the natural process of gestation, culminating with entry into the world at the appropriate time. The preparations going on in the outside world are also very dramatic and life changing. Some, like the physical and emotional preparation just happen. Others, like acquiring baby clothes, furniture, etc. are done consciously and deliberately and are basically under the control of the mother.

Other family members, friends, co-workers and others in the network of people who will have interaction with the new baby have various types of preparation to make for the adjustments another person in their life makes. Some of these may be far-removed from the approaching birth itself. An example of this could be a supervisor or HR person who has to arrange work coverage during maternity leave.

In reality, this process of making something ready for service or getting ready for some occasion, test or duty is going on constantly, all around us, in so many ways we lose sight of some of them. The child going to school is part of the family experiencing changes like new siblings being born, job promotions and changes for parents. Sometimes there are moves from one house to another, which may involve changes towns and, or schools.

This progression of preparation only becomes more complex as we mature. Family dynamics, career choices and friends and acquaintances are in a constant process of changing in preparation for whatever is coming next.

Thinking

As we move forward, it can be helpful to look at where we are in the process of preparation at the present time in our lives. Do we have an awareness of what we are getting ready for? That can help us evaluate the opportunities for getting ready that may present themselves to us.

We can stumble blindly through life, reacting to everything that comes along, or we can learn to respond to those things that come our way that fit with the overall plan of preparation we have as the map by which we travel this journey of life. That seems to be the way to find the path that best fits with who we are and who we want to be.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: On Being A Servant

Now Hiring

A servant is a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant. It seems unlikely that a “Help Wanted” ad for a servant would get a very positive response. Something about the word seems to run counter to the tendency in our culture to elevate ourselves in every way possible, including job titles. A casual look at modern history would reveal much about how the language surrounding being a servant has changed.

It is easy to conclude that people seem to want to get as far as possible from some of the aspects of being someone who does things for others. Probably a lot of that came from the connotation of a servant being completely out of control, totally dependent on others for direction and unable to count on any thanks or appreciation for anything they do. According to that broad definition of being a servant, anything a servant does is simply what is expected.

An interesting thing about the nature of being a servant is the considerable body of psychological evidence that a person can find true happiness and fulfillment only when they do things for others. When you think about people you know, are the more memorable ones people whose whole focus in life is about getting anything and everything they want—all the time? Do you admire people like this or those people who spend their lives and energy finding and doing what is best for other people?

There are some very revealing ways we can spot someone who is a true servant. In having or observing a conversation, does the other person spend all their time telling you everything about their life or listening for the things going on in the other person’s life. After the conversation, whose life do you know more about based on the conversation?

It becomes obvious almost immediately in dealing with a sales person or restaurant wait staff if the person is just there to do a job and get paid or if they genuinely care about discovering what the customer wants and needs. The difference is obvious. All of our relationships can be viewed from the perspective of whether or not servanthood is being practiced or not.

Helping

As we move forward, we can look at our lives and relationships in terms of how much service we receive and how much we give. A supervisor can be a servant if the focus of their efforts involves helping those they supervise become the best they can be at their jobs. It is both possible and desirable to act with a servant attitude without sacrificing respect or authority.

Service has been a well-respected tradition for most of history. Non-commissioned officers in the military serve a vital role supporting both officers and enlisted persons. This is just one of many models of effectively living a servant life.

As we move forward, let us consider the role of being a servant in our lives and our relationships.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Being Put on Hold

On Hold

Can you remember the first time you were put on hold? Probably not. The experience is so much a part of most telephone calls today we are relieved if it is only a small part of the experience. This has not always been the case. I can actually remember a time when almost every call made was answered on the first few rings, by an actual person. The call was very often answered by the person you were trying to reach.

Only a few businesses even had answering machines. These were used to receive calls after hours or on the weekend. Even in this period, being put on hold was the exception rather than the rule. Part of that is because many of the businesses that received customer calls had more than one line. The person answering the call might physically set the receiver down while they went to tell the intended recipient of your call that someone was on the phone for them.

Even after businesses started using multi-line telephones, the procedure involved the person answering the phone asking the caller to wait a moment. Then, they would press a red “hold” button while they went to find the person being called. After a few moments of silence, either the person being called came on the line, or the person who answered the call came back on to say that the person being called is not available. The person speaking would then ask if they could take a message and/or have the person being called return the call.

The point is these calls were made in real time between live people. There was every expectation when a call was being made that it would result in speaking with another real person, often the person being called. Even the possibility of not speaking to the intended person was normal only when calling someone at an office.

I can remember the first time I saw a two-line phone in a private home. It was in a doctor’s home, and it made a lasting impression on me. In those early days, answering machines were a rarity, and music on hold was the exception rather than the rule. When you made a call, you also had a good idea of the physical location where the call was being received.

Fast forward to today. Calls to a business are routinely answered by an “automated attendant.” The caller is greeted by an artificial voice asking them to listen to a list of menu selections and choose one. Often, making a choice from the menu leads to another series of menu selections. The option is sometimes, but not always, given to dial a number like 0 or remain on the line if there is no menu selection that meets the callers needs in placing the call. This is almost always followed by being told to please wait for the next available person to take the call. There may be periodic reminders, thanking the caller for remaining on the line.

Adding to the frustration is the fact that many of us use recorded messages to screen even our personal calls. Is there anyone who does not experience at least occasional frustration to even the prospect of making a telephone call?

Phone Call

As we move forward, it might be helpful to ask ourselves what if anything we can do to make telephone communication more personal. When we are dealing with someone after a prolonged period on hold, can we remember that they are a person just as we are. As we move forward, what can we do to make communicating by phone the personal experience it was once intended to be?

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Authority

Authority

Intimate or socially approved Authority is the legal use of power. It is the legitimate power which one person or a group holds over another. The element of legitimacy is vital to the notion of authority and is the main means by which authority is distinguished from the more general concept of power. Power can be exerted by the use of force or violence.

Unfortunately, the use of force and violence is a too frequent occurrence in many areas of our lives. What begins as a perfectly normal exercise of absolute authority can take on aspects of the misuse of power through circumstances which can begin as perfectly normal interaction between people. It can often happen when groups of children are playing together that one or more children can tend to dominate others simply because they are older and stronger.

Left unchecked, this can lead to various types of behavior that can be characterized as bullying. These actions are usually carried out in terms of the use of force or violence to obtain the desired outcome. Some examples of this are bigger, older children demanding money from younger, weaker children. Another example would be an older child telling a scary story to a younger child to get them to comply with the demands of the stronger child through fear.

Sadly, these tactics are sometimes used by adults to achieve a desired behavior from someone younger and or weaker. A fairly normal part of growing up involves learning to deal with these intimidating behaviors when they happen. Also a vital part of growing up is learning to distinguish between the power tactics involving force and violence and the legitimate sources of authority in our lives that we as mature adults recognize and choose to follow as legitimate sources of authority in our lives.

Some examples of this behavior includes learning to respect people who have legitimate authority in our lives, such as parents and teachers. Respect and healthy relationships develop from the recognition and acceptance of mutual authority present in the balance of healthy relationships. The movement toward autonomy is a big part of learning this balance in relationships. Effective parenting involves allowing a child to move from absolute dependance on the parents for all authority to the place where the mature child has learned to respect what they have learned growing up while developing the increasing ability to make decisions that may or may not coincide with those of the parents.

Sometimes, as adults we need to examine our understanding of authority. This can be confusing when we find our thoughts and behaviors are motivated by people and experiences from our past that might not be legitimate sources of healthy authority but are there in our heads anyway. Maybe our memory of someone, older stronger child, parent, boss or someone who used force and violence, often in the form of intimidation, to make us behave a certain way.

Megaphone

It can be difficult at times today to recognize legitimate authority when so many voices in our life seem to shout at the same volume. Some of us allow those voices to make rules in our minds that seem to force us to comply without questioning whether the authority they represent is legitimate or comes from force and violence.

As we move forward, it can be helpful to look at the sources of authority in our lives to determine which are the result of force and violence and which really are legitimate and healthy. It is a lifelong process of discovery but one well worth the effort.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Beware of Dream Destroyers

Dreams

Everyone has dreams. They seem to start early in life as we discover the world around us and all the possibilities there are for experiencing all that life has in store for us. Information plays a vital role in our dreams, but the wrong information can have negative and even harmful effects. In this social media environment, while there is an unlimited amount of information, it is very difficult to determine what is fact and what is simple conjecture.

Sadly, a child can be crushed by harsh criticism delivered by someone the child believes to be someone to be trusted. Stories of abuse, physical as well as emotional, illustrate that the life of an adult has been irreparably harmed by receiving a dream-destroying criticism at a crucial moment. Just as a word of encouragement delivered by a respected person at just the right time can be the impetus to motivate someone to achieve great things, a harsh word at the wrong time can have just the opposite effect on someone’s life.

Some dreams need to be challenged. My high school band director affirmed that I had real musical ability. When I asked him if I should consider studying music in college, he told me no. Because my visual impairment kept me from reading music as fast as a professional musician would need to, he discouraged me from considering a career in music. That advice did not destroy a dream. It allowed me to see that some limitations make it prudent not to pursue some things even if we might have an interest in them.

Dream redirection is not the same as dream destroying. Dream destroying behavior can be seen in something that typically happens when someone decides to go in an entirely different direction with their life. Especially if this new direction involves giving up security and comfort, people in your life may have a tendency to tell you all the reasons not to do it.

Maze

As we move forward, it is always helpful to look at our lives to see if we have dreams. If we do, we might want to look at them from time to time to see if they are still relevant to our lives. As we move through life, it is normal to realize some dreams are not important enough to us to invest the time and energy necessary to achieve them. At the same time, we might discover that some dreams we had let go of are suddenly important again.

As we move forward, it should be our evaluation of a dream, its reasonableness as well as its importance in our life that should determine whether we will pursue it or not. As we move forward, it should be us and not outside dream destroyers who ultimately determine which dreams we will pursue and how far we are willing to go. Some dreams should never be let go of. Those are the ones that make our life worthwhile. No one should be allowed to destroy those dreams.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Go Where You’re Looking

Kid Taking A Step

We have all been told to look where we’re going. From the time we took our first steps, the people close to us have been warning us not to trip over things and bump into things. As we began playing games and sports with others, our lives have been marked by warnings to watch out for objects and people who might prove to be a hazard for us.

Signs indicating things like danger, warning and keep out serve to remind us to be constantly on the lookout for dangerous situations in which we could possibly experience harm. It is important that we don’t spend all our time simply looking out for danger. It is important that we begin to move ahead in positive directions.

An example of this change in our primary focus is illustrated in something that accompanies the process of learning to drive. Most people I know go through a phase in beginning to drive where they tend to steer toward the side of the road and then toward the center of the road.

This phenomenon happens because we tend to steer where we are looking. As beginning drivers, we tend to look too closely to where the car is at the moment. It takes deliberate focus and a lot of practice to look ahead and to the center of the lane. Only as we develop this ability are we able to make the car go where we are looking with a positive outcome.

The ability to focus ahead and to successfully go where we are looking is important in every aspect of life. At times while we are in school, it can be easy to only see where we are, not where we want to be. People can lose sight of the bigger picture, the long view, with the distractions of the present. In our work and in relationships, it is common and very easy to be looking only at the situation we are in at the moment. Our culture of social media seems to actually discourage a go where you are looking approach. This approach involves listening, reflecting and responding rather than instantly reacting to every situation.

Driving

The go where you are looking approach even works in driving. The ability to focus a good distance ahead lets us see what is developing and traffic and to adjust things like our speed and the distance from the car ahead to match the conditions in traffic. This lets us proceed smoothly and confidently in traffic and in life.

As we move forward, while we still need to look where are going to avoid the obstacles and potential hazards that are there all time, the real task is to go where are looking. The more we can keep our vision focused on our goals and objectives, the more satisfying this journey called life will be for us and the others on the journey with us. It is ultimately more satisfying to be making minor adjustments in our long view than to be constantly correcting our short sighted adjustments. Let us strive to focus on this long view and enjoy going where we are looking.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: My Time Machine

Time Machine

Photo by Garett Mizunaka on Unsplash

When you were younger, did you ever take a magnifying glass and direct the sun’s rays on a dried leaf or a piece of paper until it started to smoke and then caught fire? That is an example of focus, concentrating and directing effort and energy on a particular thing until the desired result is achieved. This example involves focusing the energy of the sun on a particular spot, but the principle can be applied to other situations.

When we first try to be successful at a certain activity, such as hitting or catching a ball or running or jumping, we work to develop and maintain focus on a particular activity with the intent of developing skill at a particular activity. This focusing of our energy and effort on a specific objective teaches us the concentration and other skills we need to develop patterns of behavior that lead us to success.

Sometimes this effort at focus becomes all consuming. Young people who spend their early lives in preparation for events such as the Olympics, a career as a professional dancer, musician or some intellectually demanding focus, such as law or medicine, have an understanding of the concentration of time and effort it takes to achieve success in areas such as these. Actually, success in anything such as academics, career and relationships requires focus to achieve success.

Another way to look at focus has to do with how we view the circumstances of our lives. Some of us focus on other people and their needs. These people see every situation in terms of what effect any thought, word or action will have on someone else. Such a person puts others ahead of themselves so naturally that others are drawn to them and thrive and grow in their presence like a flower in sunshine and rain. Others see the beauty of the flower, often not realizing what went into making it that way.

Some people seem to only be able to focus their time, effort and energy on themselves. “Me” is the focus of everything they do and say. These may be good people who live their lives totally oblivious to the needs and desires of others. Their problems and frustrations are always center stage. Lack of awareness of what is happening in someone else’s life is characteristic of someone focused on themselves.

This difference of focus among people is one of the things that makes life both interesting and challenging.

Friends

Photo by Baylee Gramling on Unsplash

Sometimes I believe the focus we have is a natural part of who we are. The challenge comes in accepting that other people may have a different focus. We are not all Olympic champions, musicians or any other of the many occupations that call for a special focus.

As we move forward, it can be beneficial to think about what is happening in our lives to consider our focus. It can also help us understand and accept people with a different focus to appreciate that our focus is neither good nor bad. It is simply different. This understanding can also be helpful if we ever want to alter our focus. Understanding ourselves and others can go a long way toward happiness.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: What is Your Focus?

Magnifying Glass

When you were younger, did you ever take a magnifying glass and direct the sun’s rays on a dried leaf or a piece of paper until it started to smoke and then caught fire? That is an example of focus, concentrating and directing effort and energy on a particular thing until the desired result is achieved. This example involves focusing the energy of the sun on a particular spot, but the principle can be applied to other situations.

When we first try to be successful at a certain activity, such as hitting or catching a ball or running or jumping, we work to develop and maintain focus on a particular activity with the intent of developing skill at a particular activity. This focusing of our energy and effort on a specific objective teaches us the concentration and other skills we need to develop patterns of behavior that lead us to success.

Sometimes this effort at focus becomes all consuming. Young people who spend their early lives in preparation for events such as the Olympics, a career as a professional dancer, musician or some intellectually demanding focus, such as law or medicine, have an understanding of the concentration of time and effort it takes to achieve success in areas such as these. Actually, success in anything such as academics, career and relationships requires focus to achieve success.

Another way to look at focus has to do with how we view the circumstances of our lives. Some of us focus on other people and their needs. These people see every situation in terms of what effect any thought, word or action will have on someone else. Such a person puts others ahead of themselves so naturally that others are drawn to them and thrive and grow in their presence like a flower in sunshine and rain. Others see the beauty of the flower, often not realizing what went into making it that way.

Some people seem to only be able to focus their time, effort and energy on themselves. “Me” is the focus of everything they do and say. These may be good people who live their lives totally oblivious to the needs and desires of others. Their problems and frustrations are always center stage. Lack of awareness of what is happening in someone else’s life is characteristic of someone focused on themselves.

This difference of focus among people is one of the things that makes life both interesting and challenging. Sometimes I believe the focus we have is a natural part of who we are. The challenge comes in accepting that other people may have a different focus. We are not all Olympic champions, musicians or any other of the many occupations that call for a special focus.

Magnifying GlassAs we move forward, it can be beneficial to think about what is happening in our lives to consider our focus. It can also help us understand and accept people with a different focus to appreciate that our focus is neither good nor bad. It is simply different. This understanding can also be helpful if we ever want to alter our focus. Understanding ourselves and others can go a long way toward happiness.

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.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.