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!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


My sister recently asked me to look at the world through a black and white filter (literally) by challenging me to a Facebook Photo Contest.  Normally a “shades of grey” person that can find more fulfillment in relative comparisons than absolute positioning, looking through such a filter was outside of my typical paradigm – but it gave me a great opportunity to realize that such an approach to life reflects our daily reality quite well.  Some of the pictures I chose – along with the life lessons they represented – are included herein.  The first came to me easily – a gateway to the world through a restrictive tunnel.  Taken along Lake Michigan in winter, the wonders of the world seemed to open up to me when seeing a tunnel as an open window to the world (yet it could easily become a sanctuary to those seeking refuge rather than opportunity).

Once through my portal to the possible, a winter storm greeted me with its harsh reality AND its majestic beauty.  While striking as a colored photo, the lake seems frozen in time (figuratively as well as literally) when viewed through a black and white lens.  We often judge people, situations and opportunities by the “color they wear” rather than the depth of their essence.  Perhaps we should all take the time to filter our
initial impressions so we can identify and apply the value hidden within that sense of clarity.

Other pictures (more obvious) were of animals within the San Diego Zoo.  A panda within a tree provided a black and white perspective often lost within the green and brown foliage of its reality.  A resting tiger, majestic within its normal orange and black, became a powerful image of stark contrasts when stripped of its color.  If only we could do the same within our world today – to see others for what they offer rather than losing ourselves their differences.  (I avoided using the zebra that stood perfectly still for me – the reality of his world being black and white enough without being viewed through an altered filter.)  Ask me for my Facebook link to see these specimens.

We all must establish goals for our life (see a past Deliberation for expansion) if we seek to accomplish anything more than we are currently doing.  We came upon a neglected path in Kentucky during a visit to my “challenging” sister and her family.  The leaves along the path were changing colors and the grass fading to brown – the contrast providing a beautiful distraction to a winding path that could lead to most anywhere IF one chose to take it.  We followed a similar path during a trip to Oregon and found a hidden treasure – a waterfall near a wooden bridge.  We all must choose which road we will travel during this life.  Though many will follow highways that make their trip easier and their choices more defined, I would prefer to seek opportunities that may be lost to many by taking the road less traveled – by seeking the beauty hidden behind the colors we see.

Giving a new definition to “peer pressure” were pictures taken in Maine and Virginia Beach.  OK, so you might have to be a bit convoluted to link “pier” pressure with “peer” pressure but seeing a sturdy platform project into the ocean always provides testament to what can be done if we persevere – of what power and might we can harness when we seek to transform “what is” into “what could be.”  I see a pier and think of the storms it has weathered – of the view it has of each sunrise – and how it greets each new day (on the East coast) or welcomes the night into our lives “out West.”  Too often we see only the surface of each situation we face – only the “practical purpose” of things rather than the possibilities not yet defined or determined. Painting with our granddaughter recently opened this door to reality – as she worked to combine colors and fill her sheet with paint I had her close the book on her drawing then open it to see the reflection of her work on the other side.  She was amazed at the transfer and sought to create “mirror images” for the next half hour.  More of us should look beyond what we see in life to uncover the opportunities hidden IF ONLY we could close the book on what is and open it to see what could be.  A pier can be a dock or a window to a
new world – its reality limited by our minds rather than its functionality.

As I continued to look through my traditional pictures of a colorful world, I found waterfalls, rivers, seascapes, sand sculptures, bridges and birds (my wife tells me I have some kind of addiction to birds – perhaps it is the freedom their world presents or the limitless opportunities their flight provides them).  I found myself seeking the subtle differences that a black and white world produces – the shades of grey that exist between “what is” and “what could be.”  I discovered that my vacation pictures could provide a different perspective when the “color of reality” was filtered from them – a perspective we do not often use when living our lives.
Perhaps we could all gain from looking at the obstacles we face, the people we work with and the challenges we wish to overcome through a different filter.  We could take a different path to reach an unconsidered destination.  Life is what we make it to be.

Thanks for the challenge, Sis.  We all share a common earth but look at life through vastly different filters – allowing us to look at the same object or person and see a variety of values, beauty and worth.  I invite anyone who reads my Deliberations to attach a black and white picture with your comments – or better yet, post one black and white picture a day on your Facebook page for five days (then invite a friend to do the same).  Perhaps we can make a difference in the world if we all change our perspective and filter our results!