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, September 1, 2015


Much has been written about success.  Recent articles have identified successful individuals as having persistence, ambition, and the ability to see a process or project through to its inevitable end.  Many view success as “winning” rather than “losing” (but winning for some might be losing for others).  Success could be viewed as having reached educational benchmarks within predetermined time-frames as measured by “passing” or acceptable scores on objective tests.  Success could relate to one’s work (are you fulfilling your potential?), to one’s personal life (are you significant?) or to one’s status (are you SEEN as having “arrived and achieved” by others?).  In each of these typical definitions, success is considered more of a destination than a journey.  While it is not wrong to measure success by reflecting upon one’s accomplishments, it might be ill-advised to use such an absolute yardstick as the only measuring device.  I would suggest that truly successful people focus more on the “means” than the “ends” as they approach life – and most would (in some way) adhere to at least seven presumptions about success.
  1. You can become anything you wish to be or do anything that you wish to do in life BUT success cannot come from trying to be what others feel you should become or do ONLY what others think you should accomplish.  One can achieve success ONLY if living out their own dreams rather than going through the motions to accomplish the desires of another.
  2. There is no limit as to what can be accomplished when you do not care who receives the credit for doing the work or gets recognized for initiating the idea.  Successful people often initiate processes or suggest destinations while leveraging results (rather than recognition) as the springboard to further discovery.
  3. The only bad decision one can make is choosing not to decide – the only truly wrong action that can be taken is UNINTENTIONALLY allowing something significant to happen in your life.  Successful people recognize that time does not stand still – that conditions, expectations and priorities may change BUT that any course correction must be INTENTIONAL rather than accidental.
  4. Successful people surround themselves with individuals that challenge their decisions and compliment their abilities.  Unsuccessful people surround themselves with people that make them feel good and that agree with what they say or do.
  5. One can either learn from their mistakes or be defeated by them.  Those who are successful often spend more time picking themselves up from the ground than they do running smoothly upon it – learning what did not work as they seek what has not yet been attempted.  Those that fail often look for consolation for their wounds from others and seek refuge from life’s battles within the comfort of the hole they may have fallen into.
  6. When one does not care where they are going it is almost impossible to get lost.  One cannot fail if no goals are ever established.  One cannot “miss the target” when shooting an arrow into an empty field.  Not surprising, though, one will never taste success unless a target is available, a goal has been identified or a destination determined.  Success is a process rather than a result – a stepping stone along the path we travel rather than a ledge upon which we can seek shelter or an island upon which we might become content.  The RESULTS of success may be stability, contentment, popularity power or security but one cannot bring a dream to fruition – or raise another to his or her full potential – without taking intentional action to advance from the “here and now” to a “potentially bright “future reality.” Doing nothing gains nothing.
  7. Success is not measured by how many things one accomplishes but rather by how much is learned along the way and how many people have been impacted during the journey.  Successful people are rarely satisfied with “what is,” choosing instead to pursue “what could be.”
Successful people do not live in a “probable” or “predictable” world.  Things that can be easily accomplished have already been done.  Successful people live in a world of unlimited possibilities – seeking to achieve what others have yet to consider, resting upon their accomplishments only long enough to rest and re-group before moving on.  Whether it be in work, at play or within their personal relationships, successful individuals build their dreams upon a solid and credible foundation.  They seek to experience the winds rather than to capture them – to benefit from their “comings and goings” rather than needing to define them within absolute parameters.  They establish (and achieve) personal goals rather than living to accomplish the expectations of others.  They learn from their mistakes (but do not repeat their lessons more than once) and act intentionally (even if they “intentionally” choose NOT to act at any point in time). 

Success will come when one seeks to be all they might wish to become, invests the time and energy into equipping themselves to accomplish great things, stretches their limits by reaching for new horizons not yet identified, and refuses to accept temporary setbacks as the end of their journey.  Unless (or until), such sacrifices are made, success will be as elusive as an eagle floating effortlessly upon the wind – something mysteriously beautiful to be seen but not to be experienced.