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!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Far too many people view their goal – the place they want to “land” or the person they wish to become – as their destination rather than as but a stop along the way. They view the end of their journey being more important than the path they take to arrive. We often travel as if wearing blinders that focus our view on where we are going once we leave where we are so that NOTHING will distract us from getting where we want to be. Life can teach us many lessons if we learn from our false starts and misdirection as we attempt to reach our goals.

Think of how many businesses have shut down because they were unwilling (or unable) to transform themselves into something other than what they were. When high performance eight cylinder engines were the norm rather than the exception – and when quality was hoped for rather than expected – companies were very successful making piston rings. As four cylinder engines became more prevalent – and quality became synonymous with extended use and high mileage – the market evaporated and many parts suppliers shut down because they could not re-purpose themselves. Family farms are being sold to corporate entities because they cannot compete now that refrigerated transportation has expanded the concept of “marketplace” from local to international. Small town grocery, hardware and department stores have become an oddity as large superstores and “big box retailers” have taken over the landscape. Businesses that thought they had arrived – that were content with where they were rather than looking towards where they might want to be – have become but memories. Unfortunately, people can find themselves in a similar situation should they choose contentment with what they are rather than reinventing themselves into what they could become.

Many people stall and delay – doing anything to keep from making a decision to change – until forced to move because what was once secure is gone. We wait far too long to realize that we live on a lily pad – an isolated resting spot within a large lake that will eventually wither and die. When our safe haven is threatened enough that we are finally pushed to leave, many may jump without thinking about where they might land. We tend to leap before we look – sometimes exchanging our temporary resting spot for a greater danger lurking beneath its surface. In our impatience, we jump upon the first train leaving the station without checking to see if another form of transportation might be more effective.

Rather than delaying or postponing our decisions until we are faced with disaster like the companies that could not transform themselves into something different, perhaps we should focus not only on where we wish to be but also on why we wish to relocate AND what might be the result of doing nothing. We should identify alternative approaches that might be more (or less) beneficial than the obvious leap into the water (potentially directly into the gaping mouth of a lurking predator!) before we jump towards a quick solution – yet also weigh the benefits of INTENTIONALLY doing nothing until we are sure what will result from our actions.

Whether we read a map, listen to a navigation device or look on-line for directions, when travelling we seek our destination but could not arrive without figuring out what roads to take. We must anticipate roadblocks or detours, possibly setting aside resources for tolls and unexpected delays along the way. Why do we treat life so much differently? Rather than planning for the journey, anticipating what might go wrong and preparing for potential detours along the way we tend to focus more on moving from where we are to where we want to be without thinking much about how we plan to bridge the gap between here and there.

It has been said we should lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps the most critical of these is the last – for if you are not part of the solution (by either leading the charge or participating in the process) then you are, perhaps, a significant part of the problem (when you fail to engage and obstruct the progress of others).

Be all that you can be by first identifying what you might wish to become then focusing upon the path you choose to take as you move forward. Look before you leap – then make sure you are ready, willing and able to learn from the journey as you reach out to accomplish your dreams.