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 9, 2015

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST – NOR DO ALL WHO ARE LOST TEND TO WANDER


“Not all who wander are lost” (Tolkien) is a truism as much today as when first penned.  Without breaking down the walls around us and stepping outside of the box, few innovative or original thoughts would be considered.  Unless, and until, we begin to wander off the beaten path – searching for things not generally thought of or methods not typically used – will anything different happen.  Had the Wright brothers not “wandered” towards Kitty Hawk – building upon new thoughts and processes with each step they took on their journey – would we be able to fly today?  Had Edison not wandered upon darkened streets – refusing to accept a flickering flame as being the only form of illumination – would we have the electrical power grid that exists today?  Had a handful of disillusioned souls not wandered across the ocean to an unknown destination – driven forward by the promise of a better tomorrow that offered freedoms of religion, choice and self-governance – would we live within the greatest nation ever formed?  While many that wander aimlessly through life are lost, those that wander with a sense of purpose, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to make a difference in their world are far from lost – they are leaders upon a road not yet discovered travelling towards a goal not yet identified.  They seek what has not yet been found BUT find and develop all they can as they pass through uncharted territory on their way to a perceived destination – which becomes but a resting place for them to regain their strength before wandering anew.  Wanderers are the leaders of our world, and those willing to wander with them will be amazed at what wonders have yet to be discovered.

Conversely, not all who are lost wander (Smith).  We cannot expect change unless we are willing to
embrace it – until we consciously and intentionally move forward towards a destination not previously discovered.  While some wander aimlessly because they are lost – sometimes even stumbling upon a great discovery or an uncharted trail – their travels are unplanned and their discoveries unintentional.  Many, however, who are lost chose to lie low awaiting rescue.  Rather than making a difficult situation any worse they will find a safe harbor within which they can ride out the storm – a dry cave in which to crawl during the rain.  Those who find comfort in the status quo – who are content to live as they have always lived so that they can have all (but no more) than they have always had – represent the unfortunate souls content to exist in mediocrity.  When facing a fork in the road, those content to rest will seek guidance from their past – looking behind them to find what has worked so that they can move forward on familiar trails that lead to known destinations.  When facing the unknown, some who are lost prefer to await rescue – to wait for others to lead them from where they are to where they would prefer to be – but will rarely strike out on their own or leave breadcrumbs behind them as they strike a path towards the untried and the untrue.  Those who do not wander will rarely find a way that has not yet been found nor discover a concept that has yet to be imagined – they are but the worker bees within an ever expanding hive – content to do as they are told in exchange for a planned and consistent universe regardless of the cost.

A rare few individuals are seekers striving for change, validation or innovation – willing to walk away from the safety and security of “what is” in search of things that could be (but have not yet been identified).  Whether they are lost or enlightened, those that wander will find things along the way not yet identified or discovered.  The difference is that those who are lost see their discoveries as an end – a final destination or place to rest – while those seeking innovation, freedom or unheard of results see their discoveries as but the beginning of something entirely new and innovative.  It has been said that the first step of any journey is the hardest but perhaps the second step – that one taken after initially setting out from what is comfortable and secure towards that which is unknown, and those taken next once the realization of what is being left behind before an understanding of what may be gained – are truly the most difficult.  While many sentences make up a book – and the first is often difficult to write – it is important that we know when (and how) to end each chapter so we can move on from what has been accomplished while seeking what has not yet been achieved.

Look back only long enough to know from where you come.  Stop only long enough to know where you belong.  Leverage your past and your present to establish a future that will never be unveiled unless (and until) you begin to wander.