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!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

LET GO BEFORE REACHING OUT TO MOVE FORWARD

I once held all that I had as gold within my trembling hands…
More precious than even the air that I breathed…
Watching it sparkle and shine…
Rivaling the sun with the brilliance my accomplishments spilled upon me.
I buried them within my heart, holding them deeply as part of my essence within my soul…
Touching the heights of my journey with my searching fingers…
Embracing the efforts that produced results others could but observe…
Hiding the inadequacies of failure behind a tough shell that sheltered me from the world but inadvertently inhibited my growth…

While we all face distractions and disappointments throughout our lives, holding onto what “once was” rather than reaching out for “what could be” is a recipe for stagnation, mediocrity and a minimalist future.  Things once held as valuable slip from our grasp as we grow older – as we gain new experiences the things once seen as being valuable become less significant, replaced with new and improved processes, alternative solutions and previously unimagined possibilities.  We must remain vigilant lest our safe shore becomes overcome by a rising tide.  If we rest upon our laurels, a once-secure occupational choice may become obsolete – a victim of technological growth or productivity improvement.  Unless constantly nurtured, a secure and comfortable relationship can be tarnished by an unanticipated action (or an uncontrolled reaction).  Life happens – how we react and respond to it will either advance our potential or limit our possibilities.

Unknowingly, I took from those around me – from my world – all that was offered…
            In my naivety seeing little need for thanks or appreciation in return.
I held onto what I felt was mine far too tightly…
Secure in all my abilities provided yet unwilling to grow.
When forced to expand my horizons beyond what could be controlled – finally yielding to      the relentless march of time…
My course was irreversibly altered – changed in ways never dreamed of nor imagined…as past memories failed to sustain a comfortable existence…
Dreams not yet solidified were launched from an unstable foundation that beckoned me to hold on until the very end – until there would be no base from which to move forward – rather than looking ahead.

Sometimes we take from our present circumstance all it offers, not ever planning for a time when it might end.  Few individuals find a single employer, line of work, or career to last them a lifetime.  Whether due to fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of becoming “something or someone different,” some people tend to hold on to what they have for far too long.  Today’s world demands life-long learning – be it within business, industry or personal relationships.  Education (not necessarily college – Trade education or the ongoing attainment of specialized skills is also education.) is no longer “preferred” within today’s workforce – it is required.  Computer skills are not a luxury – they are essential.  Literacy (knowing how to read, comprehend and communicate) can act as a sail to one’s career – leading one to worlds unknown and unexplored – or a millstone around one’s neck as the lack of mental exercise and imagining bring growth to a standstill.  While one may be able to “stand his or her ground” for a short period of time, it is rare that life allows us to live on “cruise control.”  Unless we are moving forward we are either falling backwards OR standing in another’s way.  It is far better that we position ourselves to anticipate what might happen before it occurs – to influence our destiny rather than allowing uncontrollable situations to force our hand – while melding our thoughts, dreams and possibilities into an intentionally planned and ever-changing reality.
  
Though I still remember and reach for my past…
Searching desperately for what has passed me by...
Grasping for what once was but shall never be again…
Those very memories now seem as but water running through my fingers…
Their substance un-contained within my hands…
                        Their memories flowing through my grasp as if they were never there…
Leaving but occasional thoughts of what once was casting light into my darkened world.
I desperately seek the comfort that once encompassed my soul – the thoughts that once defined my path…
The possibilities that being one with my potential rather than limited by my reality provided…
            Finding substance within my existence…meaning within the shadows of my emerging world.

When we live in the past we can be absorbed by “what used to be” rather than seeking out “what is.”  Far too many individuals seek comfort in the belief that they will “be called back to work shortly” rather than seeking a new beginning.  We tend to stagnate ourselves (and all those around us) when we seek to establish our value within past memories – when we create an identity in “what we were” rather than in “who we are” or “what we might yet become.”  Seeking comfort in what once was may not be a fatal flaw – but finding shelter from our present reality within the confines of the past will never allow us to grow.

Yet life goes on for time does not stand still.
To secure a future we must reach out to grasp what has yet to be offered.
We must build bridges to traverse the waters flowing freely through our fingers…
We must acknowledge that the security our past once provided has been washed away…
            A new beginning spreading before us like a never-ending sea…
We must sail into the unblemished horizon seeking others willing to share it…
But we must first let go of what has been…of what we were and who we are…
Before we can reach confidently for what has yet to be.

While our parents and grandparents may have found security within the four walls of one company or lived in one house forever, few of us will experience life without unexpected or unplanned change.  Change is the only thing constant in life and, while it is only natural for people to step back when they face uncertain times or unpredictable challenges, we must not step back so far that we fall over the cliff while we are not looking.  Though getting to the bottom quickly MAY emphasize that there is no way left to go but up, there is no guarantee that we would survive a free-fall through our past when seeking our future.  People who anticipate changes intentionally set their course upon the waters left behind by “melted memories” rather than being washed away by them – thriving as they sail ahead rather than being becalmed on calm and untroubled seas.  Before moving forward, most successful individuals examine the past, take from it (and build upon) what is valuable, leave behind what may be detrimental, then move forward with confidence that what could be is worth whatever it might cost to leave behind what will never change.  Do not drown in the waters as they flow through your fingers, rather hold tightly only to those things that will bring hope to your future and help you realize your dreams.