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!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


What forms a boundary for you? Is it your life experience? Things you did (or did not do) as a child? Your respect and reverence for the past – for the way things have always been? Perhaps you find comfort in predictability – or find your actions driven by the fear that would accompany a new and unknown path. Far too many people live within the comfort of their “known worlds,” excusing their inability to reach beyond that security by claiming satisfaction with “the way things are.” Do you live inside of your boundaries – safe from all those that are different from you – or do you seek to experience life as it could be by wandering “outside?”

We sometimes steep ourselves in heritage, immerse ourselves in history and surround ourselves with the accomplishments of those who came before us – but this comfort often comes at the expense of people and things not yet imagined. What new realities might we discover if we intentionally stretched our boundaries by stepping out of our defined limitations – if we turned from what we were (or even what we have become) towards what has yet to materialize? We do not need to explode the walls that surround us to experience change but we do need to open the windows and doors wide enough to escape the room that restricts our actions. We do not need to destroy the bridge that spans our moats but we should keep it operational!

People should cherish tradition yet continually seek new and better ways to do things (that may become someone else’s tradition in the future) if they are to move beyond what they are to become all they could be. How can we inject fresh perspective into the things we do, the thoughts we think, and the way that we approach our future? We must determine the course that sets our direction – that defines the ultimate destination to which our paths lead – by considering those that came before us while bringing to fruition the reality that sets the stage for those who will follow.

Tradition can be the basis for action taken but should never become a destination in and of itself. Far too many individuals mask their hesitation to advance beyond their present reality – or to even face the reality of their present situation – by hiding within the richness of their traditions. Holding on to the past is not necessarily a bad thing. When holding on becomes holding back, however – when retaining traditions and deep cultural heritage becomes the goal rather than the historical perspective – we keep ourselves from moving towards what “could be” by hiding ourselves within the comfort of “what was.”

Paying attention to lessons learned in the past helps pave a smoother course towards the future. We must understand why things were done and actions taken before we can leverage their results into our yet to be realized accomplishments. Individuals must know the basics before they can be refined and enhanced. They must understand “why” things work the way they do (basic math facts proceed the use of a calculator, spelling skills proceed the use of a word processor with spell check, motivational techniques that work for themselves prior to being able to lead or motivate others, etc.) before they can be expanded into new and meaningful experiences. (We should not, however, focus so much on the “what” and the “how” that we fail to apply our discoveries to the resolution of new and different opportunities.)

One must continually give in order to gain. While knowing we often receive back much more than we give, such a return should be a bonus rather than an expectation. We should, however, give more than we ever imagined possible when asking for more than we thought might be attained if seeking to step beyond the boundaries of a defined past into the unlimited world of future possibilities. Our pride may originate in our heritage – from the accomplishments of those coming before us. The greatest possibilities that have yet to be accomplished in our lives, however, arise from expanding our sense of past into an unlimited tomorrow by applying the lessons we have learned from every action we have taken towards the resolution of problems not yet defined. Only when we begin to realize our potential will we be able to live out the pages of a book not yet written – to bring to fruition all those things not yet imagined.