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: 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.

As We Move Forward: Trying New Things

New ThingsWhat do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Try New things”? Your response says a lot about how you relate to life. For many people, the chance to try new things signals a chance to begin a fresh, exciting adventure. Some of the things that might come to mind could include moving day, first day of school, new friend moving in next door, and any number of activities that take the participant in new directions.

As we grow and mature, it seems we follow one of two paths. We tend to either find these new activities, adventures and relationships stimulating, exciting and eagerly anticipated or at the extreme can cause someone to withdraw in anxiety and even fear.

It can be surprising to realize how much of our life is affected by how we are conditioned to respond when challenged or encouraged to try new things. Other people can have a tremendous impact on how we treat new things. A child raised in relative isolation, with frequent discipline for acting outside a harsh, rules-oriented environment may be hesitant or even frightened to venture out of the safety and security of a lifestyle where everything can be known. Difficulties like living in the presence of a serious medical condition or the loss of a loved one can foster this fear to venture into the unknown.

In the same way, early life experiences of support and encouragement can bring about patterns of success that make it seem easy, natural and even fun to constantly try new things for the joy of finding out what is available. Fear is replaced with eager anticipation of the joy. That can be found as we constantly seek out and try new things.

Even unsuccessful attempts are colored by how we respond when we try new things. A failed effort might be devastating to one person and make them certain they can never be a success at anything they try. This can lead to a spiral of discouragement of defeat and failure.

An optimistic person views and unsuccessful attempt at an opportunity to move one step closer to things that bring us to successfully achieving our dreams and goals. While some of our responses to trying new things are a result of our nature, some responses can be learned.

LeavesAs we move forward, the decision to try a new thing can begin by trying something so simple and safe we cannot fail at it. Success in this one thing can lead to another and another….Soon we have established a pattern of being successful as we try new things. As we move forward, I invite you join me in making the successful trying new things a goal. Join me in encouraging others to be successful in this as well.

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: Following All The Rules

Parking ProhibitedWhat comes to mind when you think about following rules? Do you follow any and all rules, regardless of who sets them? Do you follow rules you believe to be right? How do you determine when a rule is right? Do you follow rules out of fear for the consequences of breaking them? When are the consequences serious enough to make you decide to follow a particular rule?

There are a number of intriguing questions surrounding our whole approach to following. The few mentioned here only scratch the surface. I am a person who follows rules because I believe rules are a good guideline for doing what is right. I believe rules help us understand many of our relationships with others. I want the people I come in contact with to have the best life experience possible, and I believe following rules is a good way to help make that happen.

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that not everyone has the same respect for others that makes following rules something they want to do. I cannot remember the first time I met someone who really seemed to dislike following rules. I’m pretty sure there were situations in my childhood where I saw other people deliberately breaking rules. Of course, I broke rules myself, but I did it with regret, and I resolved not to do it again.

The extreme of people who seem to delight in breaking rules are those people we would identify as criminals. Terrorists seem to be another element of people who seem intent on breaking rules—at least rules as most of us understand them. The increasing frequency of senseless violence that seems all too common in today’s world cause us to repeatedly question why following rules seems to be such a disputed thing to so many people.

Terrorism and criminal activity aside, many people seem confused as to what the rules are that we ought to follow. Social media provides a forum from which anyone who wants to can loudly declare what is truth and therefore what the appropriate rules are. Historically we have had public debate when there were differing opinions as to what the appropriate rules are. Some people actually fear raising a voice in debate today for fear of being immediately labeled bigots and hate mongers.

RulesAs we move forward, it is important to think carefully about the place of rules in our lives and in our society. Open, honest discussion about rules and their place in our lives is a vital part of our getting along with one another. As we move forward, we should work hard to understand the rules that are a part of our lives. There are ways to work to change rules we believe should be changed. Let us always try to be part of the discussion. That leads us to live happily within the rules in our lives.

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: Making Life Better

RoadWhat is your response when you realize life isn’t everything you hoped it would be? The answer to that question speaks volumes about your orientation to life. For much of history, people have very little control over how their lives turned out. In many cultures the circumstances of birth determined almost everything about what was likely to happen for the duration of a person’s life. A reading of history seems to confirm that most people simply accepted their lot in life and did the best they could to just get along.

The birth of the United States was a major factor in changing the dynamic of life’s outcome being inevitable. The founding of the country, coupled with rapid expansion, among other factors, led to a culture where people could easily anticipate that their actions could lead to dramatic, positive improvements in life circumstances. Phrases like the land of opportunity and the American dream made this a place where people from all over the world came to seek a better life. People were sometimes surprised by what was possible simply by developing and following a dream.

People would take their present circumstances as a starting point from which the possibilities for the future seemed bound only by imagination and the willingness to do the work necessary to achieve the goals. Each generation desired a better future for their children. It was a time of optimism and hope. Somewhere along the way, a different system of beliefs about the future began to develop.

Evidence suggests that many people today do not have a sense of anticipation about the future and what is possible for those with a dream and willingness to work. It appears many people have replaced anticipation with envy over what they perceive as not available to them. This seems to lead to alienation and discouragement.

Where do you see yourself in terms of your view of the future and what is available to you? The answer to that question has a lot to do with where we place our efforts and expend our energy. Anticipation tends to lead to hope and optimism. Envy can lead to anger and frustration. Do you spend more time looking toward a hopeful future or resenting others for what you believe is rightfully yours?

JourneyAs we move forward, we should seek to remember the hope that has led so many to overcome obstacles and accomplish great things. Any time envy, anger and other negative emotions threaten to shape our thinking and our resolve, we should remember that these are not the stuff of which dreams have led to great accomplishments.

We can also encourage others to move past these emotional responses and focus our efforts on the positive things and ideas that can form the basis of future success. May we embrace these positive dreams and desires as we move to the best future possible.

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: When People Leave

GoodbyeThink about someone that has left you. That individual could be any of numerous possibilities. It could be a childhood friend whose family moved away. Maybe it was an older brother or sister who left for college or to get married. Ever more common in our society is a person leaving as the result of separation or divorce. On an even sadder note it could be someone who left due to serious illness or death. Whatever the reason, think about what the loss following the person was like. In the situations mentioned above, it is to be expected that the loss would result in feelings of loss, sadness or even anger and fear.

As we get older, the frequency of people leaving seems to increase. Changing settings like playing with friends in your neighborhood to entering preschool or kindergarten can result in the effect of having many people leave. With the progression through school, changing makeup of classes results in people leaving. This can further be aggravated in the progress from elementary school to junior high and high school. The phenomenon of people leaving in these situations may not be as final or unchangeable as some of the earlier examples, but changing interests due to maturing can make the feeling of being left feel just as real.

From graduation from high school onward, this phenomenon can become more intense and more permanent. While some people live as adults in the place they grew up, not everyone does. Most people can think of people we were once close to who went in different directions at one of these critical junctures in life. Take a moment and think about some of these people and what it once meant to have them as a part of your life.

Possibly one of the most difficult situations occurs when people just leave, for no reason that makes any sense. Think about someone in your life who was once a close friend but is now just a distant memory. If you have ever reconnected with someone from your past, only to discover there is no longer any interest in a current relationship, either on your part or theirs, that can be a really eye-opening revelation.

As we move forward, it is good to realize that relationships are to be treasured and enjoyed for what they represent here and now. While some relationships do stand the test of time, many do not. When people leave, it is obviously a time of change and transition. The important thing to hold on to is what we are moving from and where we are going.

GraduationAs we move forward, our goal should be to retain the best of all our past relationships and seek to use what we have learned to become the best person we can be. When people leave, it is hopefully like a parent who sees their child off to success as an adult, knowing they have made their prior relationship all they could and being confident the child leaving will find satisfaction and fulfillment in the next chapter of their life. When people leave, it should be bittersweet.

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.