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, June 28, 2018

Let The Past Flow Through Your Fingers as You Hold On to the Hope of a Better World…


I once held my thoughts and aspirations as gold within my hands – seemingly more precious than even the air that I breathed…
I watched my accomplishments shine, rivaling the sun with their brilliance…
I displayed my abilities as I hid my weaknesses, masking them behind the strength I projected…

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 disaster.  Things once held as valuable slip from our grasp as we gain experience.  A bright and shining future put on hold because of seemingly uncontrollable circumstances.  A secure job ripped from us due no fault of our own.  A relationship tarnished by an unanticipated action (or an uncontrolled reaction).  Life happens – how we react to it can either advance or standings or stagnate our existence.  When we try to control life by our own actions and capabilities without any help from others or guidance from those potentially more knowledgeable or experienced we often realize “the best we could expect” rather than enjoying the “most we could possibly imagine.”

I reached out blindly, searching desperately for what had passed me by - grasping what once was but could never be again…
My memories become but water running through my fingers - unable to be contained within my hands as they flowed freely from my grasp…
Accomplishments of the past provide but a flickering light within my darkened world – those things that were once so important now incapable of providing the fire that once flamed within my soul…

When we live in the past we become absorbed by “what used to be” rather than seeking out “what is” or “what could yet be.”  Far too many individuals seek comfort in the belief that things will eventually return to what they once were rather than seeking new beginnings within the activities in which they are engaged.  We tend to stagnate ourselves (and the hopes and dreams of all those around us) when we continually reinforce the value of our memories – when we create our identity from “what we were” rather than “who we are” or “what we might yet become.”  Seeking shelter in the past may not be a fatal flaw but relying upon past accomplishments to provide a refuge from our current realities will never allow us to face the present (or seek the future) as we grow.  Finding comfort in what we once did, accomplished or created rather than in what we may be able to do if only we applied the lessons learned in the past to overcome current obstacles will never fully satisfy our hunger for advancement.

Life has but one beginning and one end - forcing us to travel upon an endless circle of circumstance as we seek meaning to the existence we far too often allow to flow through our fingers…
We must reach out to grasp those things not yet offered – leaving behind what has been accomplished as we seek possibilities yet to be realized in a never-ending quest for fulfillment…
We must acknowledge that the security our past once provided erodes as each new beginning flows through our hands…
We must sail with confidence into each unknown horizon, encouraging those willing to follow as they seek a future while helping those not yet willing to let go of their precarious present…
We must open our hands to let go of all that has been – all we have tried to capture and control through our individual efforts – so we have room within our grasp for what has not yet been revealed.

Though some may find a degree of comfort and security within the confines of their individualized existence, few of us will experience life without unexpected or unplanned change.  Change is the only certainty in life.  People survive by anticipating change, setting their course upon the waters flowing through their hands.  People struggle when they seek to find (or create) “sameness” within an ever changing world.  They tend to thrive when riding freely upon life’s rapids, immersing themselves within currents placed before them within the river of life. 

Good leaders recognize that they cannot hope to hold back the waters of change as they flow through their fingers.  Rather than trying to hold back the waters, Great leaders tend to hold onto their hopes for a brighter tomorrow and their dreams for a future made better by their thoughts, abilities, desires and intentional actions.