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, February 14, 2014


A person can show great proficiency without exhibiting imagination but an individual will never exercise their imagination by simply accomplishing the work assigned without asking “why” (or, “why not”).  Delivering a standard or anticipated response to a directive often satisfies those willing to do nothing more than the minimum. An understanding of what must be done as well as a verbalization of what might yet be accomplished is demonstrated when one researches enough – or is interested enough – to ask “why not?”

Given the choice between a “doer” and a “dreamer,” I would prefer to live within my imagination than within my reality. A realist accepts only what can be defined and demonstrated – content to accomplish the dreams and desires of others.  Many people live within the memories of their past, dwelling in thoughts of the safe places that brought them happiness and security rather than seeking new beginnings - living comfortably within a sheltered world of previous accomplishments. When life is contained within established thoughts of “what is” and memories of “what has been,” can one ever realize his or her full potential – can he or she even identify “what could be but has not yet been considered?”  I would prefer to live amongst those who imagine what has not yet been proven – has not yet been established – for they will accept nothing less than the great things they are destined to accomplish in this world.

While our memories are necessary to remind us of what we have accomplished – of the things we can do – our dreams provide an indication of what has yet to be, leading us to places not yet discovered. As we bring today’s dreams to fruition, they become tomorrow’s memories, leaving behind the safety and stability that yesterday provided.  Many successful individuals dream of what could be, casting off the limitations of “what is” or “what was” by choosing to reach for the promise and possibility of things that have not yet been realized.  They dwell upon how things might be different than in the past – truly believing that just because something “was” or “is” does not mean it will “always be.”  One cannot be content to live within a world defined by everyday realities when continually seeking unlimited potential and possibility.

For you who find fulfillment within the "way things are" and travel obediently upon the straight and narrow path that leads to a defined destination – good for you!  The world needs individuals that will “do without questioning” as it seeks to fulfill the mundane tasks required to close out each day while moving towards a new dawn.  For those unwilling to live another’s vision or accept another’s explanation of “why” as they seek their own “why not,” endless possibilities that have yet to be imagined are waiting to be realized.

In whatever you do, look beyond the obvious to experience all that life might provide.  Seek “the possible” rather than “the probable.” We need only our eyes to see – but casting and pursuing a vision requires our imagination. We need only our ears to hear – yet recognizing the cause and purpose of a noise requires our understanding.  Immerse yourself within your senses if you seek to fulfill the promise of a new tomorrow – a day that cannot materialize until yesterday becomes a historical “jumping off” point from which growth originates rather than a sacred safe haven that will always provide comfort.

A brave new world awaits those willing to question even those things that are held as true because of past practice or long-accepted policy - those courageous enough to act in a manner not yet imagined by the general public to accomplish things not yet considered possible. While known actions result in predictable results, untested and unproven actions cause equal and opposite reactions - creating new opportunities and fresh challenges that will transform things once considered only possible yesterday into probable advances as we move towards tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Why is it that people tend to rush to judgment, hurry up to wait, and do ANYTHING but “stop to smell the roses?”  Though time is seemingly in abundance when we have nothing to do, it passes far too quickly when we would prefer it to stand still.  We seem to worry more about how quickly we can finish the race than we do about the joy found along the way – or even the satisfaction derived from simply crossing the finish line as rest briefly before preparing to pursue the next opportunity.  People far too often worry needlessly about things outside of their control rather than identifying the things over which they have influence and acting upon them.  We fear that slowing down to appreciate the things around us will delay us from accomplishing our goal RATHER THAN adding value to the time spent invested to bring our dreams to fruition.  We often find ourselves slaves to the very clock we so desperately seek to master – trying to burn both ends of a twenty-four hour candle rather than brightening our way in a more measured manner.

I have heard many people complaining about the “lemons in their lives” rather than celebrating the opportunities they might have to make lemonade.  The weather is too hot (yet January and February will almost certainly bring complaints about it being too cold unless global warming exerts itself upon us).  I am too busy to exercise (several acquaintances were in accidents this past year that took from them the ability to freely move about – I’m sure they wish “being busy” was all that kept them from exercising their bodies and their minds).  Rather than finding satisfaction in all they have accomplished, some see only what has not been finished due to a lack of time.  Some constantly seek what they wish they had rather than what they actually possess.  Many elevate the accomplishments of others rather than looking for the difference that their own activities and actions bring about.  We have become a nation of complainers – bringing others down in order to make ourselves look better RATHER THAN elevating ourselves in order to pull others up with us. Perhaps we might take the opportunity to recognize individual accomplishment during this season of Olympic Pride.  Let us openly acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice those willing to “participate in the pain so they can enjoy the gain” put forth, and give freely our praise and encouragement as their efforts elevate them to heights not imagined.

Rather than rushing to judge others, take time to ask WHY someone acted in a way you might feel foolish.  Do not expedite your condemnation – take time to see if YOUR perspective might be the cause of your exasperation rather than another’s actions.  Offer advice and counsel rather than critically dismissing another’s action as being worthless, wrong or misguided.  Doing something for another because they may have done it wrong (or differently than you might have) provides but a short term “fix” as it changes only symptoms rather than altering behavior.  Providing fish gives someone a meal – teaching them how to catch
fish provides a long-term solution.  Telling someone how to do something resolves many a situation.  When we take the time to help identify alternative resolutions we prepare others to act independently in the future. Why hurry up to wait?  If you are going to have to wait anyway, use the time preparing for the journey.  You cannot control another’s behavior – only your own.  We are far too quick to blame and too slow to seek responsibility when we play the hurry up and wait game – often too determined assigning “fault” to seek (and implement) a workable solution.
When people rush to see how much they can do or see, they lessen the enjoyment of what they actually saw or accomplished.  They begin to measure life by the number of breaths they take – or the amount of activities they perform – rather than seeking and enjoying moments that might take their breath away or add depth and breadth to their existence.  To accomplish more we cannot merge our days and nights - life needs both light and darkness to exist.  We must remember, however that the bright lights of hope and promise generate the shadows in life that necessarily exist – that without a destination an obstacle standing in our way could never be overcome.

We cannot hold back the hands of time but we must not chase them blindly, racing relentlessly in a
continuous circle around the clock.  We must break free of the sands of time if we wish to conquer their grasp – if we hope to become all that was intended.  Perhaps rather than seeking longevity and good fortune from life, we should seek fullness and meaning.  Perhaps we could better measure our success by how many lives we have touched – by the differences we have made –than by how many things we have done or projects we have accomplished.