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!

Friday, July 22, 2016


Many people feel they can “go it alone” rather than needing to prove themselves to others (or convincing others their way is wrong).  In order to establish and maintain accountability for our thoughts and actions, however, we need others in our lives (to challenge, validate and support our direction, decisions and aspirations).  While most of us are able to move forward through much of life on our own, we can find encouragement to keep moving when we might prefer to rest if others are walking beside us along the way.  Before we can expect others to accept us, however – to care enough about us to invest their time in making us better – we must first accept ourselves (though accepting is never easy as we can ALWAYS second guess our initial reactions, thoughts or decisions).

The first step in this acceptance is to discover our own potential – fully assimilating the beauty of what is possible into the reality of our lives – before we could hope to have another see value or worth in us.  We must identify our individual strengths and weaknesses, realizing the role that each plays both in our development AND to our detriment.  We must recognize and accept what is possible (or not realistic), what is highly probable (or unlikely) and what is fiscally irresponsible (or within our means to create a way).  When one looks for weaknesses, assigns fault, or emphasizes failure they tend to focus more on what “was not done” than on celebrating success.  They often attempt to change behavior by identifying deficiencies that need altering (thereby becoming important as the identifier of another’s problems) rather than by encouraging the “cloning” of healthy behaviors.  Far too often we ensure our own success by pointing out and/or guaranteeing another to fail rather than by elevating our own “game” to bring others along with us.

People acknowledging only their strengths often enter relationships to “fix” those around them – never fully exposing themselves to the scrutiny that true friendship (or “community” brings).  Those that limit themselves by accepting their shortcomings and deficiencies as ceilings rather than floors often sell themselves short when it comes to achieving success.  These individuals often avoid their own emptiness or darkness by reflecting another’s light or fullness through the pronouncement of a relationship. They seek to find personal success through the accomplishments of others – or to elevate their own minor successes by minimizing another.  They tend to deflect attention from themselves by directing it to another - often negatively influencing the way others are perceived while appearing to be “above it all” in their personal interrelationships.   

No relationship – whether it be in business or in your personal life – will grow unless we establish an expectation of what we hope it might become then work hard to bring the dream to fruition.  Some say that setting low expectations will keep them from ever being disappointed.  What kind of a meaningful relationship could develop from the premise that what “is” will never change – that wherever a relationship began is where it will eventually end – exhibiting no growth.  A relationship serves no valuable purpose if the melding of beliefs, values, ideals and accomplishments are intended to advance each individual more that it enhances the group.  If one benefits from the input of another, think how much could be accomplished should several come together, openly sharing thoughts and ideas without fearing loss, reprisal or repercussion.  

Dreams are the “pots of gold” found at the end of the rainbows we choose to follow.  Choice is the key here – unless and until we CHOOSE to move forward, to leave behind or to seek new pastures, we live our lives more by fearing the pain of failure than by truly expecting and anticipating the rewards of success – we may survive but will rarely thrive.  Relationships focusing on why things did not work or how they could have been done differently are destined to fail.  Those using (accepting and learning from) failure as a springboard towards implementing new and different solutions are more likely to succeed.  Believing that the “light at the end of a tunnel” is an opportunity yet to be realized rather than a train heading towards you on a collision course reflects the assimilation of dreams into your daily relationships – the acceptance of “what has yet to become” a precursor of reality rather than a harbinger of never-ending turmoil.

Building relationships and accomplishing dreams are not easy (nor straightforward) tasks.  We often discover alternative paths leading to destinations that are more desirable (AND that we may never have considered) when we include the ideas of others as part of our decision-making process.  We miss much along the way when we build straight and narrow paths upon which to travel – leaving no room for exploration, discovery or wandering – when we focus only upon where we wish to go and how we envision getting there without allowing ourselves the time (or giving ourselves the permission) to take detours along the way.  Avoid the interstate highways of life (paths that provide only limited access or entrance), choosing instead to travel the “country roads” (trails that allow unrestricted ingress and egress of ideas, thoughts and methodologies) if you wish to achieve all that you believe possible (rather than accepting only what you could reasonably and responsibly identify as having a high likelihood of succeeding).

When people lose sight of their goals, coming to rest upon the side of the road before accomplishing their dreams, they cannot find fulfillment and often fail to persevere.  When we travel alone we are more likely to lose our way – why should it be any different as we live life?  The realization of dreams is linked to how effectively our strengths can be focused as we travel unfamiliar paths that encourage new ideas – and unless our thoughts are challenged by others holding us accountable for the results promised, how can we ever achieve anything beyond what we already know and accept as being possible?  Accepting that our own (or another individual’s) weaknesses are insurmountable often results in our believing that failure is not just a possibility but rather a foregone conclusion.  When we truly believe that the accomplishment of anything is possible – and that nothing can diminish or replace the unwavering power borne through a strong and trusting relationship – only then will we be able to experience the presence of others on our island – of others working together to achieve more than any one individual might accomplish. 

Relationships are the foundation upon which life’s accomplishments are constructed.  A relationship becomes successful when “we” becomes a given rather than “me” being the rule.  While one man (or woman) may think he (or she) is an island, they will not experience all life has to offer until accepting that to live we must share life – and that we are only as strong individually as is the group of close friends we have around us.