Category Archives: As We Move Forward

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

Check out the As We Move Forward podcast.

As We Move Forward: How Do You Ask For Help?

Infant

Every one of us finds ourselves in situations where we can not do everything on our own. What we do at that moment has a great bearing on how well we are able to cope with the seemingly impossible challenges we face in our lives. Actually, asking for help starts the moment we are born. Much has been written about how traumatic it is to enter this world. The cry that either comes naturally or is prompted in every newborn infant serves multiple purposes. This action fills the baby’s lungs with air. At the same time it serves to ask everyone around for the basics of survival. The newborn infant stops crying when those around hear the call for help and make the appropriate response.

Crying continues for a while as at least one of the ways a young child asks those around for help. The temperament of the child and the responses from those in the child’s environment help determine how much of the process of asking for help consists of crying and how much takes other forms, some more verbal and some more pleasant.

We all know children who seem pleasant and polite in their basic orientation to life. Is it possible their requests for help are responded to in ways that bring satisfaction and reinforce the process of asking for help in a basically pleasant manner? Of course, no one, especially a young child, is pleasant all the time, especially in the stressful process of asking for help. As we grow into adulthood, basic patterns emerge and develop. How we go about asking for help in our relationships has a lot to do with how successfully we maintain and develop satisfying and productive relationships with others.

As adults, how we ask for help has everything to do with our starting point when we confront the need for help. Some people think only in terms of how something will affect them. When these people need help, nothing matters other than getting the help they need. They often lose sight of the effect their getting help might have on others. One of the things they might overlook is the feelings others might have in being part of their getting the help they need.

Helping

Another person might recognize their need for help and honestly and openly share that. Very often, others will respond with a willingness to help meet the need. Like so many things in life, the difference is often our point of view. We all need help at times. The difference in the willingness of others to offer us the help can be in our willingness and ability to be open with others about our need for help.

As we move forward, it can help us remember that everyone needs help at times. As we think about our willingness to help others, it can be useful to remember how it feels to have someone take our feelings into consideration when we ask them for help. May we both offer and ask for help in a spirit of always being mindful of the role of others in the process.

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: Choosing Our Heroes

Hero

Who are the heroes in your life? Who do you look up to as role models for the ways you respond in various situations? Typically, our first heroes are our parents. It is amazing how each child takes for granted the belief that their particular life situation is absolutely normal. We see our parents as the absolute last word on every subject. I think most children want to grow up to be exactly like one of their parents.

This cast of heroes gradually increases as we get older and have experiences with more people. The cast of heroes can include siblings, other, usually older, children in the ever expanding world of a young child. The cast of heroes can include characters from books, movies and television as well as from real life. Children might aspire to be such things as a ballerina, a singer, a cowboy, policeman, fireman. It would be interesting to discover how many people first got the idea for their calling in life from a role model, one way of describing a hero, who played a significant role in a child’s life.

There are numerous accounts of someone like a teacher, a doctor a coach or perhaps a supervisor or boss who has served as the guide, role model, hero to give someone the vision to achieve incredible things. It is difficult to overestimate the value of this influence on the success a person is able to achieve.

Again, the question of who the heroes are in your life are presents itself. Did you reach as high as possible in choosing heroes to serve as the guiding force in your achievements? Taking a realistic look at who you have chosen as heroes and where that has gotten you can lead to a realistic appraisal of what you have accomplished so far in life.

It may be that you could have chosen loftier heroes. It is possible you might have let go of some heroes too early in life to truly benefit from their example as a guiding light in your life. Do you need to choose different heroes to guide you at this point in your life? One difficulty of growing older is that we lose some of our heroes and the source of new ones may not seem readily apparent to us.

Hero

As we move forward, it is important to examine the importance of choosing the best possible heroes in keeping the course of our lives on track. Another thing we should be aware of is that we may serve as heroes for someone else. The nature of healthy relationships requires us to keep this model of hero/role model in proper focus.

As we move forward, let us seek the best heroes possible and strive to be the best role models possible for others. Our world still needs heroes. Who are yours?

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: Post-Truth

Sometimes I think I’ve heard everything. Just about that time something seems to come along that surprises me and convinces me I have not heard it all. Recently, I began reading an article that talked about the post-truth age. This refers to a tendency more to emotional responses than objective truth in discussion or debate. This is reactive rather than responsive in which my emotional response to a given situation is far more important than any facts involved.

Emotions

Social media can be viewed as presenting examples of this phenomenon. Often the emotional responses seen on social media have little if anything to do with the facts involved in a situation. One result of this reliance on emotion over fact is the reluctance to enter into a discussion because of the reality that someone will almost certainly get upset.

I value the times in my life when I have been able to debate ideas with people who hold different viewpoints than I do. I have learned some valuable lessons by having my beliefs challenged by putting them next to radically different viewpoints in an open and honest discussion.

A way to look at behavior to see if it is following the post-truth mentality is to apply this standard. I believe that each of us does the best we can in every situation, given the information we have. When I see someone acting in a way I do not understand, I ask myself what I think they are trying to accomplish. Part of that process is to try to determine what if anything might cause me to respond the way they are.

I will be the first to admit there are times I cannot envision circumstances that would cause me to respond a certain way. That awareness tells me something extreme must be going on to make someone behave a certain way. Sometimes the act of trying to understand what someone’s behavior might be saying helps me to relate to that person in a way that benefits both of us.

Fact Finding

For me, I choose not to live in a post-truth age. Emotions are an important indicator of what might be going on in someone’s life, but I would rather base my decisions as much on facts as on emotional responses. I believe the time we spend in probing for the facts in resolving issues in our relationships is valuable.

As we move forward, may we resolve to respond rather than react in relating to others. May we make the effort to understand what might be going on in someone behaving in ways we do not understand. May we take the admonition to give others the benefit of the doubt to its fullest expression.

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: How We Mark Time

Clock

We mark the passage of time in interesting ways. We count birthdays and other anniversaries as milestones, often speaking of what went before and what came after a particular date. The extension of this is the way we mark significant historical dates. July 4, 1776, would be one example. What went on before that date is forever different from what has come after. It can be argued that dates such as that one really do mark a significant distinction between events before a particular date and those after.

An example of this kind of anticipation took place in 1999. The world was on the brink of a new year, a new decade, a new century as well as a new millennium. That was a time when hopes, as well as fears, were associated with this historic transition in time. As I recall, one of the most widespread fears had to do with Y2K and what might mean to computers around the world.

A number of things have changed in the past 19 years. As we pass into the third decade of the 2000s, I sense a little more than usual hope, optimism, or at least anticipation for what the coming year and decade might bring. Since we live in a time filled with uncertainty in many areas of life, there seems a reason for anticipation tinged with both apprehension and optimism. The year and the decade ahead will most certainly be filled with challenges and opportunities. This brings us back to the question of we are as of this particular milestone in time approaches, and what do you think the time ahead will mean to you?

As we move forward, where is your life in comparison to where you thought it would be a year ago, five years ago? If you are courageous enough, look back ten years or twenty, to the time we approached 2000. Where are you today compared with where you thought you would be at any or all of these milestones?

Clock

How do you feel about that? I stand amazed at where my life has gone compared to where I saw it at several of these points. I am coming every day to see how the challenges I faced earlier in life have helped prepare me for some of today’s challenges. I am reminded every day that doing the work and staying the course brings long term results we could never have anticipated.

As we move forward, we know that a new year and a new decade will provide new challenges and opportunities. While we do not know what the year ahead will bring, we know the lessons we have learned in previous years will equip us for what we will face.

As we move forward, let’s resolve to keep on doing what we need to as we stay the course.

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: Back to the Future

Future

Probably everyone has seen the Back to the Future movies or at the very least knows the story. I want to focus on the concept from a slightly different perspective. I have traveled enough years into the future using the convention one day at a time model to have seen some amazing things happen.

There is probably no more profound development over this time period than the computer. How incredible is it that we have come from noisy machines that fill rooms to quiet devices that fit into one hand and allow computing, communication and information retrieval that dwarfs the capabilities of the earlier “dinosaurs.”

One of the things all movies and other attempts to look at the future have assumed is that things would be better and easier in the future. I saw a humorous post on social media recently featuring passengers on a plane twenty years ago. They were commenting on the meals that were being served and speculating on how great airplane meals would be in twenty years.

We all appreciate the incredible convenience of being able to communicate instantly with people around the world. How many of us have sat in the same room with others and interacted only with our devices or people we contacted via our devices? I appreciate my smart phone, but is it really all that I expected the future to bring?

I remember a comic strip police detective who used gadgets of the future. Their 2-way wrist TV has become a common reality. There are some tremendous applications. People separated by time and distance can seem closer with voice and video communication available to everyone.

I have to ask if we’re really better off being able to get the answer to every question of information in seconds. There is some question about our ability to retain the knowledge that is available at our fingertips. Related to this is the issue of what is real and what is fake. Social media tends to make everything we say seem as real and credible as everything anyone else says. “What is truth?” becomes a very complicated question.

Another aspect of our involvement with and our growing dependence on technology is the harsh reactions that seem to occur every time there is a problem with technology. People often act as if someone set out to deliberately sabotage them. It is difficult if not impossible to do serious problem-solving in this environment. I have been told that people in the IT field experience high stress, and I find this easy to believe.

My phone just rang, and I was reminded of another aspect of the future that did not turn out quite the way I thought it would. Lack of access to a phone is pretty much a thing of the past. I have walked several miles to find a payphone following a mechanical problem, especially during a trip. In the “past,” when the phone rang it was usually someone you knew and probably wanted to talk to. The worst scenario was usually the occasional wrong number.

Phones

I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what people are trying to with our phones these days. It doesn’t make sense to me what these people are trying to do. Is that the future we envisioned would be the result of improved telephone technology?

As we move forward, we might want to look realistically at what the future seemed to promise as compared to what it has actually delivered. The results are mixed. There is a lot that is positive. The real challenge is how we deal with the rest.

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: 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.