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 23, 2014


Change, like life, happens with or without any help from us.  Growth, however, comes only through our intentional actions.  People love and hate change at the same time.  While wishing for things to remain the same in our lives (comfort, security, job, environment, friends, relationships), we really want them to get better (rarely wanting discomfort, negative change or inconvenience in our lives). Wanting it “both ways,” we often refuse to invest the necessary “sweat equity” to make change happen.  When handed to us, we are more than happy to take it.  We are less likely to actively identify areas needing change then intentionally acting to put them behind us while moving forward in a different direction – leaving behind what is comfortable (and holding us back) while hoisting our sails to capture the winds of a new tomorrow (venturing into unknown territory holding not yet realized opportunity).  Though we may not always know where the winds will lead us, simply catching hold of their endless power will help us to move from our current reality to a future possibility without becoming caught in the calm between what was and what could be.

Some random thoughts to help maintain focus along the journey from what we know to what we might only imagine – from what is to what could be – would include:
·         The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. (Arthur C. Clarke)

When we restrict our actions, reactions and responses to the ways and methods we have always used, nothing will change.  Only when we dare to act in ways we have never before acted – to think in ways we have never before thought – will those things that were once beyond our reach become possible.  In order to maximize the likelihood we will succeed, however, we must acknowledge the resistance we will face, respond to the concerns our detractors will present, and present a plausible, acceptable alternative (which is more desirable, beneficial or providing of more opportunity) than the status quo.  To move from where you are to where you wish to be, and perhaps even beyond to where you have not yet imagined, tear down the walls that limit you to what you have always known or you will end up doing what you have always done and being what you have always been.

·         Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.  (Samuel Johnson)

Allowing an individual to learn from failure is possibly one of the best learning techniques we can use.  When a person must turn back due to unexpected rapids after charting a course and setting sail, two things happen.  First, the individual will (hopefully) learn form his or her mistake by recognizing the signs of turmoil and acting to avoid them before venturing into the unknown again (recognizing the need to continue as being the critical component of learning).  Secondly, though, and perhaps more important, we must identify the reason success was delayed and correct the error, mistake or poor judgment in a way that allows us to overcome the obstacles that kept us from progressing towards the accomplishment of our goal.  Learning by experience is much more beneficial than listening to someone else say which way to go or what road to take.  We should plan, anticipate and think of reasonable alternative approaches prior to starting any task BUT avoid “analysis paralysis” (refusing to move forward if there is ANY chance that something might go wrong allowing our fear of failure to diminish our chances of success).  When we never leave the blocks we cannot compete and it becomes impossible to finish the race.

·         The only person who never makes mistakes is the person who never does anything.  (Denis Waitley) 

Life is not a carefree path we take while moving towards an idyllic destination.  Life is fraught with pitfalls, traps, snares and impossibly steep embankments.  It would be nearly impossible to go through life without making a mistake so quit trying to be perfect!  Some of the world’s greatest inventions have been the unexpected outcomes from failed experiments.  Our greatest presidents frequently tasted defeat before they were elected.  Many business owners have failed in an endeavor before experiencing success.  Once a path has been taken that leads to a dead end – a process selected that results in set-back – learn from it so your next steps can be successful.

  • Knowing is not enough; we must apply.  Willing is not enough; we must do.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Value is established not by what we know but rather by how we can apply it.  Wisdom is the result of applied knowledge.  Knowing that a car needs an engine, a transmission, an electrical system and a variety of other mechanical parts does not make you a mechanic.  You must apply what you know to be of any use to anyone.  I could THINK about fixing a car all day long but nothing would happen until I pick up a wrench (then without proper education, training and knowledge my efforts might cause more harm than good).  Any action creates an opposite and equal reaction, both in physics and in life.  Intentional action is a prerequisite to change.  Plausible and acceptable actions – often outside the normal realm of reasonable and expected responses – are the precursor of success.

·         Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.  (Cadet Maxim)

As you dive headlong into life, remember that you will get from life only what you put into it.  I have seen individuals slide through life expecting (and receiving) very little.  Some say they set low goals so they will not fail – that when the “bar is low,” nothing will keep them from crossing it.  I choose a different path – and so should you.  Take calculated risks in order to increase your chances of success.   Choose to care more about others than you care about yourself.  You might be surprised how rich and free you life will be in return. Choose to dream enough so that you can experience new horizons when bringing dreams to fruition.  You cannot fulfill another’s dream (no matter how hard you might try), only your own.  As for expectations – you will never rise higher than you expect yourself to rise, nor fall lower than you allow yourself to fall. 

·         Focus more upon “what has yet to be done” than “what has been completed” when seeking change.  Acknowledging and recognizing your weaknesses helps identify the causes of problems – developing and leveraging your strengths produces long-term solutions.  (Dave Smith)

Do not focus upon what cannot be done – continually stretch to achieve those things that have not yet been attempted, reach outcomes that have not been previously accomplished, or choose paths that nobody has yet dared to travel.  Do not seek an escape from reality – embrace the potential around you.  Do not dwell upon what has been done – seek what has yet to be realized.  Always expect more than may seem possible – refusing to accept anything previously accomplished as anything more than a resting point as you seek yet to be discovered destinations – and you will surely taste success during the coming year!