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, September 13, 2012


I recently heard a speaker tell his audience to “be who you are because everyone else is already taken.” While he was speaking more to the tendency that individuals tend to blend into the environment in which they work and support the ideas expressed by those around them, I began to think of the ramifications his statement might have should we apply it to all aspects of our daily lives.

Would the world be different if transparency truly replaced the guarded face we typically present when interacting with others? If we were to transform the tolerance we often painfully exhibit when others are “not like us” into unconditional acceptance, would the world become a better place? If we could be more comfortable with who we are – readily exhibiting our strengths, acknowledging our shortcomings and intentionally acting to bring about positive change – might we more readily embrace the similarities and accept differences of those around us?

Accepting “who we are” does not imply we do not need to change. An individual is not a static point within a sedentary world. Rather, life “happens” and we must anticipate, respond and reply to the challenges it presents. Being “who you are” today does not mean you should be the same tomorrow – nor does it assume you are the same as you were yesterday. It means we should accept our skills, abilities, values, ethics, standards and persona as they are today so we can build upon them as we move towards a better tomorrow. While we can express happiness for another’s accomplishments we should not seek to establish our own sense of worth through their successes. We can learn from the experience of others but should not claim their success as our own nor seek to avoid all personal failure. Much growth can come from overcoming a personal defeat or shortcoming. While we can seek to be like those we respect, we must never reject who we are by attempting to become that which we are not by trying to transform into someone that exists only within our own imagination.

To become all that we can be we must first accept all that we are so we can move beyond the limitations of our present reality into the unlimited realm of possibility. We cannot fulfill our own potential when we are so busy immersing ourselves in the accomplishments of others that we have no time to enjoy our own successes. Do not dwell upon the things you do not have – carefully weigh your true needs (rather than "wants") then take intentional action to acquire those things that are truly important. Rather than worrying about the things you cannot yet do or the ideas you have yet to express, celebrate those things you CAN accomplish and the value of the thoughts you routinely bring to fruition. When we truly accept ourselves as being able to initiate change while acknowledging there are some things we are not yet to be able to accomplish – refusing to be content until we have done all that is possible to fulfill our own potential – we will find that "being ourselves" is not a bad thing. Perhaps it is good that "all the others are already taken" because our world needs them to compliment who we already are and to support who we have yet to become!