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!

Thursday, July 28, 2016


When opportunity knocks, some refuse to open the door, excusing themselves from any responsibility for the challenges that life might place before them. They prefer living within the status quo – taking the familiar “easy path” to any the destination that might appear beyond the horizon – implicitly declaring that change and opportunity may be great for others but should be avoided at all costs when personally confronted.  Rarely will you find an individual wishing to initiate change – to face opportunity head on so they might reap the potential rewards their risk might provide – travelling only upon the straight and narrow road.  Conversely, one seeking the comfort of “what is” rather than the opportunities that “what could be” might present will avoid the twists and turns that an unimproved path presents as they will spend so much of their time blaming each bump on the inadequacy of another and perceiving every detour as a dead end rather than unrealized possibility – that little forward progress will be accomplished.  People refusing to put forth more than minimal effort while expecting exceptional results are unrealistic in their beliefs.
Far too many individuals seek to rise to the top upon the backs of others, expecting to receive the same rewards simply because they share the same space and breathe the same air, rather than opening the door when opportunity knocks.  Those seeking to leverage their individual abilities, attitudes and desires eagerly open the door to new opportunities.  They immerse themselves in the identification of “root causes” that may have initiated the disruptive events in their lives, seeking to become an indispensable part of innovative solutions rather than an ongoing contributor to seemingly unresolvable issues and unreasonable expectations. They move forward upon paths defined by the conditions – considering not only the situation as it is but also what it might project to become – before beginning their journey, ALWAYS willing to adjust their travels should any motivating or influencing factors change. Individuals answering the knock of opportunity typically identify paths not yet imagined as they take roads not yet improved while seeking destinations not previously explored or defined. Those willing to take risks in life visualize where they might go once they step through the door of opportunity. They do not hide behind the safety of a closed existence, they absolutely refuse to accept the loss of “what might be possible.”

Sharing our workload and the results of our efforts has become an expectation as we seek to magnify and enhance our individual contributions by blending them with the unique gifts others have been given to accomplish collectively more than could have been completed on our own.  Might our emphasis on sharing and “teamwork”, however, be inadvertently discouraging individuals from “answering the knock of opportunity” by dissuading them from expressing their personal thoughts, feelings and expectations – encouraging them to find comfort and security in “group think,” fearing failure rather than embracing the learning that it can bring? Within a world that rewards results rather than encouraging discovery, do we allow people to bring their dreams to fruition or do we contain their imaginations within well-defined parameters and highly structured “acceptable” processes?  Do we actually keep the door closed by convincing people it is alright to find comfort in the way things are (and that they will never change) rather than encouraging them to take intentional risks that MIGHT produce exceptional rewards?  Perhaps the opportunity that knocks in life should be welcomed as a dream that has yet to become reality rather than a reality that has established itself as a dream.

Dreams are thoughts not yet realized – aspirations not yet brought to fruition. Dreams are the basis of our goals and the foundation of our good intentions. We can LIVE life without dreams BUT cannot EMBRACE life’s full potential (or become all we hope to be or realize all we might wish to accomplish) without first visualizing what we want to become or what we desire to do BEFORE we begin to travel through life.  Those that perform to the standards and expectations of others may be great contributors (as they add value to society) but until they identify their individual aspirations and work towards accomplishing them, people rarely discover new horizons or identify unknown paths that would allow them to travel beyond the door of opportunity once it has been opened – to cross the threshold from “what is” to “what has yet been imagined.”  To accomplish our dreams we must be willing to open the door that holds us captive within the safety and security of our “present” so we can embrace the unknown opportunities of a “future” yet to be fully identified, realized or finalized. When opportunity knocks, you can ignore it, consciously turn it away or embrace it as you move towards its unrealized potential. You can answer its call or hide within the safety and security of what you know to be real – leaving the opportunity for someone else to invest the time and energy you are unable (or unwilling) to expend – but must then accept the results they accomplish rather than the possibilities you could have attained.

Should you seek to make a difference in the world – to expand your horizons beyond “here and now” towards dreams not yet realized (or, in some cases, not yet imagined), open YOUR door when you hear someone knocking.  When opportunity knocks, some accomplish much because they sacrifice all, holding back nothing as they seek “the prize” rather than worrying about “the cost.”  They picture life as a series of surmountable hills rather than a single insurmountable mountain.  They see obstacles in life being temporary detours rather than permanent closures, finding “the good” in every situation they encounter rather than dwelling upon “the bad” in what might come their way.  People answering the knock of opportunity see where they wish to be and envision what they wish to become the intentionally acting to make those things reality rather than holding back or maintaining the status quo. While accomplishing much for themselves, they allow others to taste success by paving the way for them to follow once they the door has been opened (understanding and knowing that leaving the door closed would prohibit new discoveries and eliminate new accomplishments – sentencing the world to stagnation and decline rather than hope and prosperity).