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 6, 2017


Researchers tell us that walking in an upbeat way with your head held high as you look ahead to where you are going can improve one’s mood – and that swaying from side to side while walking (meandering without meaning or purpose) can make one be depressed and sad.  Resisting temptations such as chocolate, fats, and “indulgent” foods elevates one’s self-perception and esteem while succumbing to those temptations creates an attitude of failure.  Talking to a total stranger while travelling (rather than isolating yourself within your own thoughts) helps one to feel more “grounded” and accepted in life.  Sitting with good posture rather than in a slumped-over manner causes individuals to be more positive in their reactions to life and their hopes for the future.  It seems that many of the “right things” we do have a positive affect on our health and our future possibilities while the “wrong” or “questionable” things we do lead us to a more unhealthy lifestyle and less rewarding destinations.  While these conclusions have been developed as a result of observations made during controlled, scientific research, think about some of the corollaries we could take from a “living the dream” rather than an “enduring the nightmare” attitude.

I knew a very capable individual who tended to think more about what might go wrong than what could go right.  He dwelt upon the possible – making sure that he would be able to respond to any contingency imaginable – often missing the opportunity to “strike while the iron was hot” due to his deliberate nature and his over-thinking each situation.  He was hesitant to build upon his accomplishments for fear that the “fall from grace” would be more drastic and destructive than was the rise to success – effectively ensuring that he would not fail because he minimized the possibility of failure by taking sure and measured actions that resulted in predictable and anticipated results. While he never tasted "agony of defeat" he never truly experienced the "thrill of victory" in his life.

I knew another individual that considered a situation, thought about several of the more obvious ramifications of his actions, then decided to act on the information he had “in hand” rather than continuing to “posture” himself in a way that might avoid all risk or minimize the chances of failure.  He often acted (intentionally) knowing what would likely happen, what could possibly happen and what had a small (but realistic) chance of happening – but his actions often put him ahead of his competition and in front of “the crowd,” allowing him to hold his head high in the discovery of the unknown rather than forcing him to look down while following the footsteps of another without fulfilling his or her individual dreams.  While acting before having all the possible outcomes identified may require us to react and respond to more "contingencies" along the way, it will almost always take us to a place where "no man has gone before" as we experience rewards not previously expected, anticipated or imagined. 

Many people silently commit (to themselves) that they will change (multiple times throughout the year) in order to alter their anticipated expectations.  They think that altering their behavior will produce significantly different results BUT are not committed enough to the change that they are willing to share their intentions with another (for fear of failure or in an active resistance to outside authority or control).  When individuals focus on the change rather than looking forward to an altered result – start with where they are and what they have done rather than seeking something different or dreaming of an alternative reality – they tend to experience short-term differences rather than life-altering transition.  Commitments to change come in many shapes and sizes but would include things like going to the gym (for 1 – 2 months), exercising at home (for a week), driving safely (until you are late for a meeting) or spending more time with friends and family (unless there is a major project at work).  Self-generated and monitored expectations of change without external support and accountability seldom result in lasting transformation.  We can accomplish only those things we have seen or done when left to our own devices and given only our own support for we need to be praised and complimented for our positive actions (and held accountable for our shortcomings when experiencing failure) if ever we are to realize success.

If “walking with confidence” helps people be happier, think what the accomplishment of an expressed goal (even if for only a short time) might do for one’s demeanor and self-confidence.  Rather than trying to implement change or speak as another’s mouthpiece or act as his/her clone, why not commit to transform?  Do not accept only what is attainable – rather reach beyond the probable to experience the possible.  Set your targets boldly where people have previously feared to wander – not as a means to challenge defeat but rather as a way to break through to destinations not yet discovered.  When one accepts the things that others have already accomplished and defined as their personal benchmarks for success, how can you NOT know what to expect or WHEN it might happen.  When you seek new frontiers – looking forward with anticipation rather than backwards in fear or dread – there will be less criticism of the choices you make and the roads you take because others have not yet “been there” or “done that” with their lives.

Sincerely believing that you will succeed – when supported with appropriate training and resources – will contribute greatly to success.  Anticipating failure almost always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Setting the bar high keeps your head up (and your attitude will follow).  Failing to set a goal will allow your head to drop as you drift aimlessly without a plan or a target.  Acting happy in life helps us to be more energetic, innovative and accomplished in what we do and say.  Establishing your destination before you determine your route will help you accomplish things nobody has yet done.  Keep your head up while looking forward to where you COULD go and you will experience greatness (rather than looking down to follow the path of another as it leads to anticipated results and expected outcomes).  To “be all that you can be” you must actively and intentionally decide to seek more than you could ever be given.