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, April 7, 2015


Far too many people try to be who they wish they might become rather than who they really are without investing the “sweat equity” required to initiate change.  In order to change our core beliefs and abilities so that we become whom we hope to be, there must be more gain from the change than pain from NOT changing.  People change very little once they have established their basic values, patterns and thought processes.  It is often easier (and more effective) to leverage an individual’s strengths than it is to try to build up their shortcomings.  As Dr. Seuss so aptly proclaimed, "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."  We are who we become because of the choices we make and the roads that we take.  Should we wish or hope to be anything different we must consciously and intentionally decide to move from where we are to where we wish to be to satisfy and please ourselves RATHER THAN trying to do it for another – for what others think or feel really does not really matter when it comes to fulfilling our personal potential.

Before we can achieve we must identify what needs to be accomplished and visualize the path we should take to begin our journey – recognizing that the trail we take may force us to start and stop many times along the way but will deter us only if we allow ourselves to be distracted.  It may be that those who do most, dream most (Stephen Leacock).  We should dream about what we have (or do not have), who we are (or might wish to be), and what we want (and how that differs from our present circumstance).  One must first imagine something as being a possibility before it can become a probability – yet "Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, and a willingness to fail if they are ever to be anything more than dreams." (Bryan Linkoski).  Dreams become the destination to which life leads us.  Those without dreams – without hopes of accomplishing more than they have or having more than they have been given – may live comfortably but will never achieve greatly.

While “failure” is not necessarily a desired outcome of change, it is rarely fatal.  We must realize
success rarely occurs without failure and that gain does not stand alone without loss.  Robert F. Kennedy said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."   Individuals whom have truly made a difference in this world understand that failure is not the worst thing in the world – the worst thing is to have never tried – to not “get up” after being knocked down by life.  Much intentional thought and deliberate action is required to succeed – failure becomes but the path of least persistence should we choose to avoid the pain associated with gain.  If we are to transform thoughts to reality, the word “impossible” must not be a part of his or her vocabulary.  While facts, information and well-considered alternatives are often the building blocks of change, perhaps Dexter Yeger appropriately described its essence saying, "If the dream is big enough, the facts don't count.”

Life is a series of starts and stops – of chapters coming to an end as pages are turned to reveal new beginnings.  It is important that we not only recognize the need for altered behavior but that we also intentionally ACT to make it happen.  Knowing the facts and understanding how to make change happen does not ensure transformation.  Will Rogers stated, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."  As we accomplish change – accompanied by our actions and our attitudes – we should embrace that we are here to add what we can to life, not to get from it what might be offered.  We cannot hope to be any different unless (and until) we consciously leave what we have as we reach for what we would prefer.  Comfort may be the result of one coming to terms with who they are and what they can do but it discourages change.  If life were meant to be stagnant we would not have been provided with a mind, a spirit and a free will to exercise our abilities.  We would have been rooted in place rather than being allowed to wander.  We would be comfortable and content within “the box” rather than seeking to stand upon it seeking new opportunities, discovering what “could be” rather than accepting “what is.”

Many seek equality rather than equity in the world.  They pull down those who are successful, taking from them the fruits of their labor in an effort to narrow the gap between “those who have and those who have not.”  Would it not be better to provide “those without” the tools necessary to narrow the gap through their own productivity – to encourage them to dream then provide them with the ability to chase their dreams?  Mark Twain once said "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." We are not “owed” success – we must identify what it means, seek it without limitation then INTENTIONALLY ACT to make it become a reality.  Think big, act audaciously (without fear of failure) and keep your eyes focused on the prize (even if you begin to slide backwards along the way) as you incorporate the lessons learned from failure into success.  Then, and only then, will we become what we were meant to be rather than settling for what we are or living within the past glories of what we once accomplished.