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, November 30, 2016


Far too often we become disillusioned with what we have – seeking other rewards or greener pastures – without first identifying OUR OWN role in the disappointment we feel or the conflict we experience.  People confronted with occupational crisis or personal catastrophe rarely ask themselves what they did (or did not do) to contribute to their situation.  We tend to blame others for our shortcomings rather than facing the reality that our own actions or decisions – our inaction or avoidance – may be (or have caused) a major share of the problem standing between us and accomplishment.  We turn our backs on relationships that have cooled rather than trying to feed the fire without ever learning that the smoldering embers we thought had died could have provided a more encompassing flame when properly fed and intentionally nurtured than the most out of control wildfire that might unintentionally cross our path.  We walk away from jobs where we have proven ourselves to seek opportunities provided by an unknown employer – often running from what we know and choose to leave behind rather than enthusiastically seeking new experiences after a thoughtful examination of what we might be accepting as an alternative reality.

A number of people seek something for nothing – asking not what they can do to contribute to the well-being of others but rather what others can do to elevate them.  They expect their needs to be provided for by others – be it income, a job, housing, comfort, warmth, validation, acceptance, security or a plethora of other things that could (and should) be internalized for intentional action rather than externalized for charitable contribution.  They want all that others enjoy without saving or investing the sweat equity needed to earn it.  They want all things possible handed to them without putting forth the effort needed to initiate change.  Rather than lifting themselves up they seek to bring others down – to take what they feel they deserve from the efforts of others rather than contributing to what they receive through their own initiative – creating equality at the lowest (rather than the highest) common denominator.  They seek support and acceptance from others when they have failed rather than trying to lift themselves up after acknowledging and owning their shortcomings – seeking absolution rather than resolution.  These people are part of the problem with this world rather than part of the solution – part of the illness we fight rather than the cure we wish to distribute.

Some people seek to build upon (rather than accepting as a destination) “what is” as they pursue what is not yet theirs – often seeking to realize things or situations not yet fully imagined.  They see life as opportunity rather than entitlement.  They may fall two steps back when taking each single step into an undiscovered world BUT never stop moving as they seek to accomplish their established goals AND move from them once realized towards new horizons.  These people accept responsibility for their actions should they contribute to failure, either learning from the mistake so that it will not be repeated or correcting the problem by addressing their individual shortcomings.  They see a relationship as a living, breathing organism – something that needs to be nurtured through constant attention (and compromise) rather than allowed to drift aimlessly on its own without oversight.  They see our land of freedom and opportunity as a place where extreme individual effort results in unprecedented reward – where nothing is outside the reach of those willing to work hard to bring possibilities to fruition – rather than an unlimited resource that will never run dry as it fills the needs of those unwilling to work for their rewards.  These people are part of the solution in life – part of what “could be” rather than rooted in “what is” or stuck in “what should be.”  They seek (and eventually achieve) what is possible rather than waiting for what life may eventually provide.

In order to MAKE a difference in life, you must be willing to BE different.  You cannot remain “one of the crowd” caught up in what everyone else finds acceptable or “do things the same way they have always been done” if you expect change.  If you feel the world owes you something you do not currently have (or see any chance to accomplish or receive it) you should look to see what effort you have invested to earn the reward you seek.  If you think others are unfairly receiving the rewards you deserve (and you should get them because they do), try to replicate their investment (of time, experience, risk and ability) or intensify your own internal efforts so you, too, might generate a favorable return (rather than expecting it to be provided to you without effort or action).  Our future lies firmly within our own control, but what we see as “possible” may be vastly different than that seen by others based on where we cast our vision and what we accept as a path towards an eventual destination (rather than seeing each journey as a destination in and of itself).

To those looking over their shoulder – focusing upon paths already travelled rather than roads yet to come – tending to live in the past (finding comfort in what was once reality but may never again be realized) – we should offer help to redirect their vision towards what has yet to be rather than allowing it to rest upon what has already been accomplished.  To those seeing their present as all they could ever need or want – resting on their laurels while finding comfort within what has been attempted, abandoned or completed without seeking even the most easily attainable rewards resting just beyond their limited horizon – we should offer encouragement so that they might be able to rise from the perception of achievement to accept the challenges of accomplishment.  To those casting their vision forward – seeing the potential of what might be achieved as being well worth the risk of temporary setbacks – accepting the challenges an unknown future presents as an opportunity to excel rather than a threat to fail – we should offer to walk beside them as they join us on journey towards not yet realized possibilities.  To make a difference, we must dwell upon “what was” only long enough to recognize the value our past contributes to the decisions we must make and the actions we must intentionally take to bring our future to fruition.  Reach up as you reach out – lifting others with you as you climb the ladder of success – and the difference you make will be felt throughout time (and eternity).