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, April 26, 2013

INITIATING CHANGE REQUIRES INTENTIONAL ACTION

They stood at a crossroads…
     Looking back in an attempt to see how their lives had unfolded...
          Looking ahead towards a future not yet defined.

Their aimless wanderings lay behind them…
     Their paths weaving desperately through the wilderness…
          Coming near then veering away - not ever quite merging into a single trail.

They find strange comfort within the hazy darkness of their individual pasts…
     Gazing back at their towering peaks of accomplishment
          Made greater when seen from the valleys of their despair…

Increasingly tired of their struggles within a thankless world…
     They both sought paths that would lead towards truth…
          Seeking an obscure road that might reveal a brighter future…

What makes us decide to do things differently – particularly if the things we are doing are providing a degree of satisfaction or a comfortable position in life? What makes us wander from familiar paths in search of unknown opportunities?  Why do we seem always to seek what is "on the other side" rather than building upon what we are comfortable and familiar?  Why do some seem content with what they are while others may never be satisfied with their lives?  Often the way we look at what we have (and what we wish to acheive) is driven by the success that comes as a result of what we have done.

We all want success, but far too often success can breed arrogance - which can lead us towards complacency. If we ride a success beyond its effective lifespan, thinking “our way” is the only way, someone else will either assume our position (by improving upon what we do) OR force us to change (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach). We must actively appraise the things we do – both in our work and our personal relationships – if we wish to remain relevant. We must continually analyze our strengths and weaknesses if we are to remain effective. If we wish to remain successful we must realize the only constant in life is change. We must occasionally stop what we are doing so we can start doing something else!

To initiate change one, three major issues must be addressed. First, as the wanderers realized, we must recognize what we have always done and acknowledging where we have come from THEN start doing something different if we expect altered results. We may serve our customers well but how can we better serve them?   We may be content with the consistency of a current relationship but what can we do to improve it?  Should we change for the sake of change or only to address a specific issue or item that needs to be altered? Whenever we recognize our goals have changed we must move away from our original path onto one that redirects our efforts or we will never be positioned to take advantage of our expanded perceptions.

While identifying what must be done to create meaningful change, paths (and methods) needing abandonment will inevitably be revealed. Can suspension be an effective punishment for someone missing too much time from work? Can an individual communicate effectively without embracing technology and learning how to “entertain” using Power Point? Should we expect an introvert to take the lead during a social encounter? If you have never reached for the sky - never attempted to stretch your horizons - how can you expect to rise above the clouds without intentionally taking a different path than you have travelled before?  In order to travel upon a new road that leads to a different future we must stop doing the things we have always done (even if they may be temporarily effective) in order to realize different results.

One caution that few think of when seeking change, however is that we must avoid abandoning everything we used to do while travelling the road to new opportunities. We must identify and continue doing things that produce growth while we add new approaches that might provide a different reality. Everyone can gaze upwards to celebrate “peaks of accomplishment.” We far too often choose, however, to dwell within our “valleys of despair” as we look up to the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of us - holding on to the comfort our darkness provides rather than opening our eyes to the bright light hidden just beyond the horizon. In order to realize meaningful change we should continue doing the things that brought us to our heights while we actively and intentionally discard those that brought us to our knees - find comfort in those things that may have formed us while we seek the fire that will temper us and make us stronger.

People must change more than their outward appearance if they expect their path to shift significantly. We often hear about “new and improved” products only to find nothing but the packaging has changed. Television networks frequently move a failing show from one night to another (without changing the program) to gain viewers from a less competitive time slot. If we are resolved to change we must consciously decide NOT to “stay the course” by innovatively clearing a new path into an unknown wilderness. In order to accomplish change it is important that we continually take stock of what we are doing and where we are going – then actively seek paths that will lead us from complacency to new destinations within this earth we call “home.”

They turned slowly and deliberately…
     Moving forward into the vast unknown that lay ahead…
          Leaving behind the comfort they once knew…
               Embarking deliberately upon a path that would change their lives forever…

An excerpt from “Life’s Path To The Promise of A Dream” by Dave Smith