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 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.