The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Friday, May 25, 2012


There are those who see the ocean, feel its strength; sense its power, long for its depth – without considering that its essence is but water having no substance and holding no form until contained.

There are those who see a forest, feel its quiet depths and long for its seclusion – without considering that it is but a group of branches reaching upwards – heartless living objects unable provide comfort.

There are those who experience the wind, sense its movement and long to join in its journey – without acknowledging that though the wind can be measured, it cannot be seen nor held in your hand.

There are those that show sadness at the passing of seasons – not because of what they were unable to accomplish but rather for the realization that time passed will never again be.

There are those that envy a bird in flight – not because of their inability to fly but rather the freedom available to a soaring bird within the limitless horizon is out of our individual reach.

They are intrigued by a coming storm – not fearing its destructive nature but rather seeking examples of the power that cannot be contained.

Until we acknowledge that life is more than one’s own accomplishments – more than a listing of individual actions focused upon a common goal or objective – we may never experience the strength of an ocean. The comfort of a forest may remain a mystery. The power of the wind may be captured as an energy source but its essence will elude us. The flight of a bird will be but an exit from here to there rather than as an escape to not yet discovered opportunities.

We must realize that our infinite dreams are the result of our finite experiences –that without fully experiencing life we may not have dreams that we can hope to fulfill. It has been said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” yet perhaps more terrible is the number of minds that do not establish goals nor engage in their accomplishment.

Take time to experience the world around you as you enjoy this Memorial Day weekend. Dwell not upon what has been lost through the passing of time, focusing instead on what has yet to be realized – upon what we have (or may yet receive) because of another’s sacrifice. Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take. The true measure of life is how many experiences we can find - can live - that will take our breath away.

Friday, May 18, 2012


In living life, there are two paths we can take – the one less travelled or the one well defined. We can choose to follow the crowd and do what others want and expect us to do OR we can forge our own way to find what lies beyond the horizon. We can care about others or we can care about ourselves. We can acknowledge the efforts put forth by others or we can assume their results as our own. We can choose to make possible all things but unless we establish a destination before beginning our journey, how can we hope to differentiate between what is possible, impossible, or extremely tough to accomplish?

How can we move beyond “safe” when we seem always to take the easy path? When we choose to live safely within our four walls, our immediate surroundings, or our familiar environment how can we ever move from our present reality? Until we risk more than others think is safe, how can we expect to accomplish more than others think possible? We tend to get from life no more than we expect. We may not be seen as failing if we choose not to set specific goals BUT how can we realize success without first determining what we wish to accomplish? How will you know when you have arrived if you never thought about where you are going? How can you expect to succeed if you choose not to expect anything at all?

What wisdom is there in caring for ourselves when others have needs that are much more serious? We should not eliminate their shortfalls or shortcomings without expecting some sort of personal involvement, however. Is it not wise to teach others how to care for themselves so that we will not have to care for them forever? What greater gift can we give another than self-sufficiency?

How can we move beyond our present reality without first considering what is probable as we move towards what has not yet been proven possible? Life is practical – filled with actions that result in reactions and causes that bring effects. Replace the hollow satisfaction we tend to feel when chasing after (and bringing to fruition) the wishes of another with the fulfillment that comes from realizing our own dreams.

Unless we act intentionally, how can we expect to accomplish anything at all – let alone more than anyone might think possible? What might YOU do differently if released from the chains of propriety or the boundaries created by other’s expectations? What dream have you shut down – closed the door upon – because it interfered with your sense of reality? Let me know in your comments to this BLOG!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Life is not for the weak of spirit or faint of heart. Anyone truly making a difference in this world must often place “what is right for others” far in front of any thoughts or considerations about “what is right for him- or herself.” While anyone can go through the motions of life, reacting and responding to those things that appear as roadblocks on their otherwise clear path, I have noticed several characteristics impactful individuals tend to exhibit that their “sufficient” counterparts fail to demonstrate. These traits would include:

1. An acknowledgment that, as individuals, we can do whatever we want – often whenever we want – but that each action we take results in an equal and opposite reaction. Sometimes, what we want to do – particularly if it is a bit self-serving – may not the best possible alternative. Individuals that make a difference in this life clearly and concisely identify the impact of each decision they make then take action that ultimately results in the most favorable reaction – and have several alternative courses of action ready should this initial decision be ineffective.

2. Some decisions in life require absolute and immediate action while others leave room to choose “best options” (as opposed to “the option”). Successful individuals know the difference between the two – and are able to identify which hill they should defend to the death and which they should simply take a stand but retreat if necessary. Making a mountain out of every molehill may cause someone to push you over the edge – knowing when to recommend and when to insist is a common characteristic shared by great individuals.

3. Live the philosophy that “much can be accomplished if one does not care who gets the credit.” Successful individuals tend to work with and through others – gaining satisfaction from the accomplishments of others rather than seeking recognition and acknowledgement for their own thoughts, actions or accomplishments. When we become so tied up tracking who is doing what so that we can assign proper credit for everything that is done we may end up taking more time managing outcomes and orchestrating the results than performing the actions necessary to make things happen in a manner that benefits the whole.

4. Few respected individuals make decisions based only on what is best for themselves or their own future. Tough decisions having significant impact upon the greatest number of people (or communities) are the rule – and security or self-preservation is rarely but a secondary factor.

5. Little we can say will cause others to respect and trust us. Actions shout while words but whisper. What you do is a greater indicator of who you are than anything you may be able to express in words. If you do not “do what you say and say what you do,” you will probably never completely fulfill your potential nor have significant or lasting influence on others.

Living life is a blend of coaching, mentoring, planning, anticipating, acting, resolving, complying and holding firm to our convictions. Education is helpful but one must experience “life lessons” to gain enough knowledge and experience to advance and contribute. Life is NOT for cowards – nor is it for “people who like to do as little as possible to get by with the least possible trouble or conflict along the way. Those who make a difference in life recognize “what is” as they move towards “what could be” ONLY AFTER considering “what has been” and examine “what has worked (and what has failed) in the past.” They force themselves to take two steps forward for every one they slip back – knowing that it is not what they have nor what they have done that makes a difference, but rather what they have yet to do and have not yet accomplished.