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, January 4, 2016


We must never try to be someone we are not.  Many individuals start the New Year with fresh “resolutions” to do something (or be something) different.  Unless there is more gain from the change, however, than pain from NOT changing, such corrections rarely prove effective.  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 change their shortcomings.  As a “well known philosopher” (Dr. Suess) once 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."

The Holidays are a great time for people to sit back and dream – about what they have (or do not have), who they are (or who they might wish to be), and what they want to do differently so that they can achieve an altered result.  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).  Unless (and until) we dream of something different, nothing will change.  If, however, we wish to have change without recognizing where we are or what we are currently doing and consciously initiating a course of action that will move us from our present towards our “wished for” future, we will never feel the “thrill of victory” as we will be helplessly mired within the “agony of defeat.”

While “failure” is not a desired (nor welcome) outcome of change, dreamers often recognize that there is a very real possibility they may not achieve immediate success.  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 that might happen to them – failing to try is a far more impactful (and personally devastating) choice.  While much intentional thought and deliberate action is required to succeed, individuals making a difference in life recognize that nothing of significance is ever accomplished without having to overcome criticism, conflict and doubt as they move from the established road to a path less traveled.  Further, if thoughts are to become reality, the word “impossible” must never be considered.  While facts, information and well-considered alternatives are the building blocks of change, when our dreams become real to us – taking on a life of their own as we strive to fulfill the possibilities that they present – the facts do not really matter.  What we BELIEVE we tend to ACHIEVE – it is those things we only wish and hope for (without acting upon) that often fail to materialize.

Life is a series of starts and stops – of closed chapters and of new beginnings.  Most have heard that insanity is doing things the way they have always been done while expecting the results to change.  If we are to realize change it is important that we not only recognize the need for altered behavior as we plan for a different outcome but that we also intentionally ACT to make it happen.  Knowing the facts and understanding how to make change happen does not ensure transformation.  Even if we know what must be done AND recognize our role – realizing the path that must be taken should we choose to leave where we are in pursuit of what we wish to be – we will be run over and left behind if we just sit and consider what the next steps might be.

During times of change – of altered perspectives and intentional actions that create potential conflict and send us into uncharted waters – many seek to follow individuals more willing to take risks.  They hope for the rewards earned by those willing to risk much by hitching their wagons to another’s star.  They seek equality rather than equity in the world – often pulling 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.”  Think about how much could be accomplished (and achieved) if “those without” would be willing to accept the tools necessary to narrow the gap and learn how to use them to elevate themselves (rather than hoping to receive what they feel they deserve).

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 WE consider to be success before seeking ways that might move us from possibility to probability then INTENTIONALLY ACT to make our hopes and dreams become reality if we are to start fresh and experience change.  What might be possible if everyone worked towards an elevated goal rather than accepting their current reality as an end?  Imagine the heights we could achieve if all attempted to reach the top of their mountain rather than being content to rest in the shadows and valleys.  Think of the dreams that might be brought to fruition if all viewed their present position in life a starting point rather than a destination – a beginning rather than an end.  Make 2016 a year of transformation by thinking big and acting audaciously – embracing (without fearing) failure and accepting (without hesitation) each opportunity or challenge that enters your life.