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, March 4, 2013


Far too often we become disillusioned with what we have – seeking other rewards or greener pastures – without first identifying OUR OWN role in the disappointment we feel. People confronted with occupational crisis or personal catastrophe rarely ask themselves what they did (or did not do) to contribute to their situation. We tend to walk away from problems by blaming others rather than facing the reality that our own actions or decisions may be (or have caused) a major share of the problem. We turn our backs on relationships that have cooled rather than trying to feed the fire only to find that the smoldering embers we thought had died can often provide a much hotter flame when fanned than the roaring fire built and fed with kindling. We walk away from jobs in which we have proven ourselves to seek the opportunities provided by an unknown employer – often running from what we are leaving behind rather than anxiously seeking what we are about to find.

Some people seek something for nothing – asking not what they can do to contribute to the well-being of others but rather what others can do to elevate their own well-being. They expect others to provide for them – be it income, a job, an opportunity, comfort, warmth, security or a plethora of other things. They seek all that others have without working to possess it. They want all that others enjoy without saving or investing the sweat equity needed to earn it. They want all things possible handed to them without putting forth the effort needed to initiate change. Rather than lifting themselves up they seek to bring others down – to take what they feel they deserve from the efforts of others rather than contributing to what they receive through their own initiative. They seek change and acceptance from others when they have failed rather than trying to lift themselves up after acknowledging and owning their shortcoming. These people are part of the problem with this world rather than part of the solution – part of the illness we fight rather than part of the cure.

Some people seek to build upon “what is” as they pursue what is not yet theirs – often seeking to realize things or situations not yet fully imagined. They see life as opportunity rather than entitlement. They may fall two steps back with every step they take BUT never stop moving as they seek to accomplish their clearly established goals. These people accept responsibility for their actions should they contribute to failure, either learning from the mistake so that it will not be repeated or correcting the problem by addressing their individual shortcomings. They see a relationship as a living, breathing organism – something that needs to be nurtured through constant attention and feeding rather than allowed to drift aimlessly on its own without constant caring and sharing. They see our land of freedom and opportunity as a place where extreme individual efforts results in unprecedented reward – where nothing is outside the reach of those willing to work hard to bring possibilities to fruition. These people are part of the solution in life – part of what “could be” rather than rooted in “what is.” They seek (and eventually achieve) what is possible rather than being content to live out the probability that life holds for those willing to wait for what may eventually come.

In order to MAKE a difference in life, you must be willing to BE different. You cannot remain “one of the crowd” doing things the same way they have always been done if you expect change. If you feel the world owes you something you do not currently receive you should look to see what effort you have invested to deserve the reward you seek. If you think others are receiving the rewards you deserve you should try to duplicate their investment or replicate their efforts so you, too, might generate a favorable return (rather than expecting it to be provided to you by another).

Your future lies firmly within your own control, but the picture it holds may be vastly different based on where you cast your vision. Those looking over their shoulder tend to live in the past – finding comfort in what was but never realizing what could be. Those seeing their present as all they could ever need or want will rest on their accomplishments without reaching out to grasp the attainable rewards that might not yet be available. Those casting their vision forward – seeing the potential of where they are going as being well worth the risks – accept the challenges an unknown future presents as opportunities rather than threats. To make a difference, dwell upon “what was” only long enough to recognize the value your past contributes to the decisions you must make and the actions you must intentionally take to bring your future to fruition. Reach up as you reach out – lifting others with you as you climb the ladder of success – and the difference you make will be felt through all of time.