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!

Monday, August 8, 2022

MAKING GOOD DECISIONS (WITHIN CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS) IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

One of the most important things that a Leader does is to make decisions. As much as we try to research and analyze the paths we travel, a good leader typically makes many decisions based on “what feels right” rather than some recipe of right and wrong choices, decisions, or alternative courses of action. A high percentage of the “judgment calls” that great leaders make turn out to be successful decisions while poor leaders tend to make decisions that end up providing different results than anticipated. Compounding their poor choices, rather than accepting their shortcomings and learning from them they often shift the blame for failure to those they lead. How do good leaders “win more often than they lose” and how can their judgment be transferred to others? THIS is the essence of leadership – whether at work, in relationships or throughout life in general – one must not only know what to do and when to do it but also how to transfer knowledge, abilities and actions (along with accountabilities) to others. Great Leaders must exercise good judgment when deciding when to hold to responsibilities AS WELL AS when to let go of them (then get out of the way so that people can grow). They must be able to recognize when the tide is rising (so they can adjust to it) and when it is falling (so they do not get stranded in the quagmire of indecision).

Leaders typically have a variety of experiences to draw upon when making decisions. Rarely will a great leader step into a position of authority without having first experienced many different roles, responsibilities, successes, and failures. Visualizing how one situation applies to another – dealing with the practical application of what has worked in the past and how it might “fit” into different situations – becomes the aptitude of a great leader. Good leaders may study and learn the theoretical (or previously proven) way to do things but they must make the transition from what SHOULD work to what DOES work if they hope to truly lead others. Great leaders not only apply their knowledge, they also expose others within their organization to new and different situations (and appropriate levels of responsibility), often allowing them to grow by failing (as long as it does not negatively and irreparably impact “innocents” or the organization), so that they, too, can develop a variety of experiences from which future independent decisions will be based.

Rather than brilliantly anticipating a solution before a problem arises so that negative disruption is minimized, great decisions are almost never made without careful analysis of conditions and the intentional utilization of “cause/effect” processes – a result of reacting to what has occurred within an environment that we are not used to by applying the experience we have gained elsewhere. While working to harness electricity, Edison stated that he had never failed but rather discovered a thousand solutions that did not work on his way to discovering the one that would. Leaders do not have all the answers but when moving forward it should be with confidence (having alternatives and options in mind) so that others will follow with faith rather than hold back due to fully justified trepidation.

Good leaders make decisions then move on to other challenges – rarely looking back, always looking forward. Great leaders make decisions and monitor how they play out while moving on to other opportunities – NEVER losing sight of their objective nor abandoning the process (EVEN IF others feel that a situation has been resolved). They recognize that today’s destination is but a launching point for tomorrow’s opportunities rather than the conclusion of a path that allows them to rest in their sense of accomplishment. They are willing to change their mind as factors and conditions change, recognizing that such mid-decision shifts can be (when properly explained and communicated) an indication of strength, intelligence, and good judgment rather than a show of weakness, indecision, or lack of knowledge. While good decision-making begins with the realization that a need for change exists, it cannot produce positive results until a problem has been identified then reasonable solutions are considered, tested, implemented, monitored, measured, and allowed to produce results.

While some decisions must necessarily be made quickly, no decision should be made without thought, the development of alternative courses of action and the application of good judgment. Great leaders make decisions by combining their practical experience with a well-developed knowledge of the situation, organization, problem, issue, or people involved while considering the context within which a decision must be made (urgency, importance, impact). They understand that three factors - people, environment, and urgency – influence any decision so others must be engaged in the decision-making process and allowed to understand not only “what” actions should be taken but also “why.” Sharing thought processes to develop both “wins” and “losses” on the road to success will build the experience-base of others allowing them to make better judgment calls in the future. 

Compound your impact exponentially by helping others grow – by engaging their minds (hopes and dreams) as fully as you engage your own then allowing them to act (as you monitor results and get out of the way of their progress). Great leaders think, consider, decide then intentionally act (while providing those around them with an opportunity to grow by allowing them to expand their own experiences) so that the organization, relationship, or situation will continue to thrive and grow. Unless (and until) you prepare others to do what you typically are expected to do you will never achieve more than you have accomplished nor realize anything that has not already been experienced by someone else.

Monday, August 1, 2022

ARE YOU A PATH MAKER OR A PATH TAKER?

Have you ever met someone who sets a course in life based on how many others are doing the same thing? Rather than identifying problems, investigating root causes, and intentionally setting into motion the actions that would resolve issues in an individual and/or unique way, the path of least resistance is chosen – the one that seems most accepted by others – as these individuals travel upon roads that are well traveled, making “safe” (commonly acceptable) instead of “right” (based on fact rather than the opinion of others) decisions. Though more difficult to find, perhaps it might be better to align with individuals who seem to consistently and continuously “take the high road” in the way things are done and choose the path less traveled (rather than the easiest or most proven) when making decisions – for knowing (and associating with) such people strengthens one’s character which will inevitably lead to success.

Far too many people diminish their potential by following the crowd (doing what is considered by many to be “right and prudent”) rather than following their own beliefs. They seek popularity (or at least acceptance) rather than standing strong on their own values, judgments, and decisions (facing push back or negative opinions). They choose to blend into the majority – accepting the accolades and support that doing what has always been done brings – rather than taking criticism that standing alone often brings. They accept that things are as they should be rather than seeking what they might be if established systems and familiar processes were to be challenged. The “throng” tends to validate itself by thinking, “We are no different than anyone else – the same as all others with whom we associate so how can that be wrong?” rather than believing, “We are all unique individuals whose potential is limited only by our individual actions and behaviors.” The attacks our society mounts against individuals seeking to make a difference through non-conventional methods, actions that have not been validated, or untested thoughts and processes are often enough to discourage all but the brave from forging their own path. By homogenizing our unique characteristics into a single melting pot that can be universally accepted by all, “the many” seek to stifle the ability of all but a rare and outspoken few to make a difference in the world.  Allowing this to happen – either explicitly through participation or implicitly through acceptance – diminishes one’s ability to think, act and contribute in a meaningful way – particularly in any way that might be different than what has always been done in search of results that have never before been accomplished. When we seek the acceptance of others rather than identifying and enjoying the rewards of individual accomplishment, we often find that making others happy may not provide fulfillment.  While there are two ways to approach every opportunity, one tends to foster what is (and what some hope will always be) while the other tends to give us a glimpse into what could be (if only we allow ourselves to leave the beaten path to explore those less travelled). 

Following the crowd is easy. Anyone can do what others expect, go where others are going, act as others act and find a sense of community by blending in with those sharing a common trail or seeking a shared destination. Travelling familiar roads and doing things the way they have always been done can take the bumps and turns out of our journey BUT when we do things as they have always been done, we can expect nothing more in terms of results than has already been accomplished. When we move forward looking in the rearview mirror, focusing upon where we have been and what we have done, we cannot truly see where we are going or what might be accomplished. While teaching my grandkids to waterski I find myself telling them to “look ahead to where they are going rather than watching to see where they have been” if they wish to ski without falling – an axiom that should apply to all we say and do in life but is often abandoned when we settle for the acceptance and validation of others. Only when we accept that much can come from seeking a different reality than that chosen by the crowd will we realize loss can become gain, failure can breed success, and the decision to stop can be either a conclusion (accepting that what is will always be) OR a new beginning (failure is a detour rather than a dead end on the road to success). 

Too many leaders seek acceptance from those they lead rather than striving to earn their respect. Too many parents seek to be friends with their children (and their acquaintances) rather than establishing themselves as role models.  Too many teachers want to be “liked” by their students rather than viewed as being “tough but fair.”  Too many politicians make decisions based on polls that measure what the majority think they should do rather than doing what might negatively impact the majority IF a decision or course of action might be best for the values (and sustainability) of our nation. When forging a path using our personal strengths, values, and character, we tend to lean towards greatness in all that we say, do and accomplish. Alternatively, when we try to make ourselves look better by pulling others down – making ourselves look good by tarnishing another’s reputation or diminishing their abilities – we often find ourselves travelling upon roads fraught with hazards, potholes, barricades, and dead ends. There are two ways to look at every tunnel…to see a river flowing beneath a bridge…to see a path leading up a mountainside. We can see only from where we have come or potentially to where we wish to go but rarely can we see both directions at the same time – rarely can we hope to find what lies ahead by focusing upon what has been overcome behind. 

What kind of transformations might take place in your life (and the lives of others) if more decisions were made (and courses of action taken) driven by “What if…” and “Rather than…” thinking instead of than thoughts of “What is…” and “What is safe?” What might YOU be able to accomplish – what potential might you be able to realize – were you to “march to your own drummer” and forge your own path rather than listening to (and following) the music made by others? You will know (and be able to realize) your true potential ONLY should you choose to accept the risk and opportunity that individuality brings – leaving behind the comfort, support and (often) false security that being “one of the crowd” provides. Only those choosing to be path makers rather than path takers can truly rise to the top.

Monday, July 25, 2022

NOT ALL WHO ARE LOST WANDER…

“Not all who wander are lost” (Tolkien). Without breaking down the walls around us and stepping outside of the box – without straying from the tried and true to experience what “might be” rather than “what is” – few innovations would come to fruition. Unless we begin to wander off the beaten path – searching for things not generally thought of or methods not typically used – what we have will always be and what we do will never change. While many that wander aimlessly through life are lost, those that wander purposefully having a thirst for knowledge and a desire to make a difference in their world, are far from lost – they are leaders upon a road not yet discovered travelling towards a goal not yet identified within a world not yet fully explored. They seek what has not yet been found while finding and improving all they can as they pass through unchartered territories on their way to an undefined destination which, once attained, becomes but a resting place for them to regain their strength before wandering anew. Wanderers are the leaders of our world, and those willing to wander with them, beside them OR be led by them will be discover improbable wonders in life that were once thought to be impossible.

Conversely, not all who are lost wander. We cannot expect change unless we are willing to embrace it. Unless we consciously and intentionally move forward towards a destination or result not previously achieved we will remain mired in our reality rather than immersed within our possibilities. While some wander aimlessly because they are lost – sometimes even stumbling upon an uncharted trail – their travels are largely not planned, and their discoveries are often unintentional. Many who feel lost, however, chose to lie low awaiting rescue. Rather than making a difficult situation worse by acting in an unproven way these lost souls will seek a safe harbor within which they can ride out the storm – a dry cave in which to crawl during the rain. Those who find comfort in the status quo – who are content to live as they have always lived so that they can have all (but no more) that they have always had – are often content to exist in static mediocrity. Individuals thriving upon the status quo may function well, but they often lose out on what could be by holding on so tightly to what is. When facing a fork in the road, they seek guidance from their past – looking behind them to leverage what has worked in the past hoping to move forward on familiar trails avoiding normal detours as they move towards known destinations. When facing the unknown, some would prefer to wait for others to lead them from where they are to where they would prefer (or willingly accept) to be but will rarely strike out on their own or stray from their past as they will rarely journey on their own towards the untried and the untrue. Those who do not wander will rarely find a way that has not yet been found nor discover a concept that has yet to be imagined. They are but the worker bees within an ever-expanding hive – content to do as they are told in exchange for a planned and consistent universe regardless of the self-sacrifice or cost, seeking “something for nothing” in their lives as they wish to enjoy the fruits of other’s labors or the harvest from the plantings that others have done.

A rare few individuals are seekers striving for change, validation or innovation – willing to walk away from the safety and security of “what is” in search of things that could be (but have not yet been identified or considered). Whether they are lost or enlightened, those that wander will find things along the way not yet discovered. The difference is that those who are lost see their discoveries as an end – a final destination or place to rest – while those seeking innovation, freedom or unimagined results see their discoveries as the beginning of something entirely new from which future steps can be taken. It has been said that the first step of any journey is the hardest but perhaps the ensuing steps taken after initially setting out from what is comfortable and secure while seeking that which is unknown – those taken after realizing what is being left behind before understanding what may be gained has been established – are truly the most difficult. While many sentences make up a book, the first is often difficult to write. It is important that we know how (and when) to end each chapter of our lives so we can move on from what has been accomplished to experience what has not yet been achieved…to recognize that our lives are books made up of many chapters flowing seamlessly from one to the next. We should not expect (nor accept) life to be a “short story” but rather an epic novel that seemingly has no clear-cut beginning and no definitive end. 

Look back only long enough to know from where you came. Stop only long enough to know where you belong.  Leverage your past within your present to establish a future that will never be unveiled unless you begin to wander – to drift purposefully through life – with a single-minded focus on where you wish to be rather than living within a clearly documented history of accomplishments clearly defined within your rearview mirror. Choose life…wander purposefully…seek change…accomplish much. What more could be said or done to make yours a positive, productive, and significant world? 

Monday, July 18, 2022

ACCOMPLISH MUCH MORE BY LEADING (RATHER THAN CONTROLLING) OTHERS


Great leaders develop practices and communicate expectations that allow them to manage fairly and consistently as they motivate people to contribute their proportionate share towards the success of the team or the stability of relationships. Unfortunately, there are many insecure and unprepared leaders seeking to claim all of the “gain” as their own while accepting none of the “blame” that often allows us to learn from mistakes. The road to success is not a highway built by a single individual – it is a precarious path paved with the sacrifice and hard work of a team allowing individuals to share both setbacks and successes as they grow together towards the accomplishment of identified goals. We maximize the potential for success when a group (large or small) develops and discusses mutually beneficial objectives then takes the actions necessary to bring them to fruition (leveraging strengths while compensating for individual deficiencies). Poorly thought-out initiatives, reactions without consideration of repercussions and a general misdirection of otherwise worthwhile efforts or activities will often result in failure – not necessarily a fatal flaw but far too often individuals accept a fall as their destination rather than a place to regroup and recover. A successful leader determines a direction, communicates a potential course of action, equips the team to act with relative independence THEN monitors progress – stepping in to redirect effort only when necessary. In order to accomplish much with others, a leader should:

  •  ACTIVELY ENGAGE IN BUILDING APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS. Successful leaders make decisions that affect themselves, those around them and/or their families (and accept both the positive and the negative which might come from their carefully considered decisions). Poor leaders often allow others to direct their actions (then complain when things do not progress as they might have wished). Good leaders make decisions then move forward while monitoring both progress and set-back so that “bumps in the road” or detours do not turn into unexpected dead ends. Poor leaders often lose track of the “big picture” while making isolated decisions – tending to live within functional silos that store and contain their accomplishments rather than on an operational farm where their efforts can grow to fruition. While a stated objective usually becomes our targeted destination, the relationships, and decisions we make build the path upon which we will travel and lend us the support to achieve our objectives. How you lead (or relate to others) ultimately determines whom you lead (or are in relationship with) and defines the horizons (or limitations) that will welcome you to a new and unconsidered future (or hold you back to live as you have always existed). 

  • DELEGATE RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY TO THOSE AROUND YOU. Leaders analyze strengths when assigning projects to maximize the potential for successful resolution. They recognize what others can (and cannot) do, then work within those parameters to optimize the chances of success. If an individual has the ability to perform a task, knows when it must be completed, and is not overloaded with interfering assignments, much can be accomplished IF the leader avoids micro-managing activities while remaining available for questions and monitoring progress. Individuals must have the desire and feel the need to contribute – must feel empowered to identify alternative actions and enabled to act independently – must not only be included but made to feel accepted and acceptable – before they will risk failure (or taste success). 
  • ACCEPT THAT FAILURE IS AN EXCELLENT TEACHING TOOL. Far too many individuals feel that “winning at any cost” is the only way to be successful. While winning more often than not is desirable, if an individual never makes a mistake he or she will not know how to deal with adversity. Repeated failure should not be tolerated but if an individual can learn from a mistake – which is not dangerous, destructive or damaging to the organization’s (or the individual’s) reputation, self-concept or ability to perform, the shortcoming should be embraced (rather than buried), examined (rather than hidden) and resolved (rather than accepted) so that one can move beyond it (rather than dwelling within it). 
  • DEAL WITH ISSUES PROMPTLY AND APPROPRIATELY. If something needs correcting and discipline is required, deal with it specifically and immediately. If an individual does something exceptionally well, celebrate the accomplishment as soon as possible. It is important to stop (or clone) behaviors rather than avoiding or ignoring them. Address and discuss issues that bother you BEFORE they become insurmountable. One will not create mutually beneficial relationships if “everything is always wrong” and “nothing is ever right” in the actions, attitudes, or behaviors of others. Focus on modifying behaviors (both your own AND those with whom you interact) to achieve different results rather than addressing the individual for what was not done and expecting positive change to grow from a tainted seed. 

Good leaders celebrate success loudly while whispering about failure privately. They analyze themselves to identify their strengths (which they leverage towards a common good) and their weaknesses (which they work hard to strengthen OR minimize by leveraging another’s gifts). A good leader may or may not be “a friend,” but MUST be fair and consistent. We must establish decision-making skills that allow us to act in a predictable and reasonable manner if we wish to become effective – which, if done by example rather than through edict – will allow us (AND those around us) to accomplish great things. 

Monday, July 11, 2022

THREE WAYS TO INITIATE CHANGE

There are three ways we can try to change another’s behavior – order change then enforce the altered behavior with penalties or threats (coercion), provide a reward or some other external recognition that is of value should they change (motivation), or show a path that will make them a better person or allow them to be something different than they are (inspiration). Whether in a business or personal relationship – or any role in which we find ourselves interacting with another in order to accomplish a single objective – positive and meaningful change results from an intentional action (even if one intentionally decides not to act) rather than an accidental happenstance – with the most effective change being planned, engages all having an interest in the altered results and provides more “gain” than “pain” to those expected to participate.

Supervisors (or those seeing themselves as being “dominant” in a relationship) often coerce individuals to change. They issue orders, give directions, and tell people what to do (and usually how to do it). Theirs can often be a world having few opportunities for independent action (having been appointed or selected based on their strong technical abilities or assuming control out of either hidden inadequacies or self-proclaimed expertise) so they provide few chances for people they supervise to act independently. Coercive individuals often expect a response of “how high?” when they ask another to “jump” rather than “Why are we doing this?” or “Is this really the best way?” They spend much time assigning work, reviewing progress (and processes), and measuring results (and how they were accomplished), leaving little time to invest on motivating or influencing altered behavior. Rather than asking or laying the groundwork for change, coercive individuals direct and monitor the activities of others so they can personally benefit from their accomplishments. Individuality is negated when change is coerced as responses become defined and expected rather than encouraged and supported. In personal relationships, individuals who coerce others often tear them down to build themselves up – focus on “what went wrong” rather than celebrating “what went well” while justifying their own poor behavior by pointing out another’s worse results. Coercive individuals tend to get what they want but may get ONLY what they want – and often find that their gains are short term of limited value or sustained duration. They find that telling may produce quick results, but rarely does it produce the best result imaginable.

Managers often motivate individuals to change. They identify alternatives, provide choices, and give people reasons that make them want to alter their behavior. Motivation to change can be as minimal as providing verbal praise and recognition (publicly) to providing a tangible reward (privately OR publicly) intended to induce alternative actions. When combined with punishment for not changing, motivation can be a powerful means of producing results. The problem with motivation, however, is that an external force must initiate the change. In a working relationship, a manager often identifies what is best for the organization, the employee and him- or her-self then initiates action by spelling out what may happen if change does not occur (coercion) but also what will happen should favorable change occur (motivating the alternative action). As long as a manager is present to identify a suspect behavior, assist in the avoidance of negative consequences, and provide reason to change, good things will happen. Rarely, however, will an employee used to constant motivation see the need to change unless they continue to receive external impetus. In a relationship, individuals seeking subtle control often do so by first “breaking down” another (coercion) then providing a reason that change would be beneficial (often benefiting the motivator as much if not more than the motivated). Much can be accomplished when individuals are motivated to change – the problem with motivation, however, is that an object at rest (or an individual who is content to do what he or she is doing) tends to remain at rest (or doing what has proven to be comfortable). Until one has been convinced that their behavior must change to receive different results, he or she will typically not experience growth.

Leaders inspire others to change. Rather than telling people what must be done they suggest that change is warranted and show individuals a better way. Rather than dwelling upon an individual’s negative behavior (or weaknesses) they reward positive efforts (or call out exceptional attributes). Leaders paint a picture of “what if” or “what could be” rather than one of “what is” or “what will always be.” A leader makes people want to change in order to achieve something they wish to have, accomplish or become. Inspirational change goes beyond telling (coercion) and selling (motivation) – it leads another towards self-actualization. Inspiration causes people to see why changes should take place, creating an internal desire to abandon who they were to become what awaits them in a different place. Inspirational change is often caused by one’s desire to “be like” another or to achieve what someone else has accomplished – to make oneself (or another) proud of their actions. In a personal relationship, inspirational leadership makes another want to join in (rather than follow) and to share a road less travelled (rather than taking the quickest, fastest route to nowhere). Rarely will inspirational leaders tell another what must be done or how to do it. When we seek that which has not yet been identified we initiate lasting change – which becomes the platform for continued growth.

Whether you choose to coerce, motivate, or inspire change, recognize that an individual must see a reason to change before they will abandon their ways to pursue a new horizon. We cannot CREATE change within an individual – we are only able to initiate it. We cannot FORCE change within an individual – we are only able to guide it. We cannot make another do that which they choose not to – we can only provide positive reasons to act AND identify negative consequences should they choose not to act. Change can alter the direction of “what is” in order to move towards “what could be” but will never be life-altering UNLESS an individual initiates it to foster personal growth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Overcoming the Limitations of this World

I long to show you happiness…make you smile…encourage you to laugh...

I pray that I give you the strength to shine within each dark night…

I hope, in some small way, I provide you shelter in this stormy world...

That through all we share we remain steadfast in the pursuit of our dreams…

That we become one with the stream rather than being washed away by it…

That our souls remain forever joined beyond the end of measurable time…

While we overcome the senseless limitations of this world by living within the unlimited boundaries of our hearts...

Until time runs out and reality returns us to the sea…

When the night seems darkest to a troubled soul it can shroud joy experienced in the past and seemingly erase memories of better and easier times. Our memories become clouded as they define a distant and faded history rather than a place we lived, laughed, and called home (but will never see again). When storms batter our weary bodies – pounding with fury upon the windows of our soul – we often question “why?” rather than moving forward one step at a time. Darkness can become depression – exacerbated by isolation and being alone during the recent Pandemic – causing the future to seem like an impossible destination…an unfathomable leap from the safe harbors we create to shelter us from the reality that each day brings…keeping us captive within our fear and anxiety…preventing us from moving forward to realize our potential by allowing us to wallow in losses that may have brought us to our knees. When all things that were once significant sources of pride, happiness and accomplishment dissipate like water leaking through fingers holding desperately onto ice, the pleasure of the past becomes but a haunting and tormenting tribute to what once was but can never be again…reduces the highest of our highs to blend into the mediocrity of everyday existence. It is then that we should think of those who have made – and may continue to make – a difference in our lives…of all they brought to our world by simply being there at a time we may have been in need and by reinforcing our value as they listened to our pain and recognized our potential.

If we seek to overcome the limitations of this world we should give as much happiness as we receive – make another smile and encourage laughter when tears may seem more realistic. We should keep ourselves from stealing another’s joy by inserting ourselves into (rather than detracting from) their personal celebration. We should accept the support that others give us as we strive to share the strength and encouragement we may develop because we listened to another. We must stabilize our own ship so it will not capsize (putting many in harm’s way) should we step away from the winds to help someone less fortunate as we calm their struggles. When we share our dreams with others – and how we plan to bring them to fruition – we empower them to seek what might be possible beyond their own reality, allowing them to see that what is hoped for can become only when self-imposed boundaries are ignored, and the limitations of self-pity and degradation become things of the past. We must become one with the stream as it builds to a credenza prior to reaching the sea rather than allowing ourselves to simply ride upon the water’s surface and be washed away – left behind to stagnate in a swampy backwater – if we wish to make a difference within this world of artificial limitations

Strive to link your soul forever with another as you become intimate friends and inseparable cohorts building relationships that bind you as life-long companions unafraid to share darkest secrets or celebrate greatest successes. Only with another holding similar values and beliefs can you share the true joy from your journey rather than seeking satisfaction and fulfillment solely upon its conclusion. Only with the support of another will you consistently find peace in life’s valleys – and be able to celebrate the elation felt when reaching your heights. Unless one accepts them self (while accepting others) you will be unable to overcome the senseless limitations of this world. Alone you will be unable to realize the unlimited potential that a mind having no boundaries, restrictions or self-serving actions offers. Much more can be discovered when life is shared with others who seek your support (while supporting you) and accept your encouragement (while encouraging you) than can be found upon a solitary trail leading to a singular destination. Do not allow the senseless limitations of this world to become your present or prevent you from realizing your dreams. Recognize your dreams – allow them to become the driving force as you seek a future reality – and the limitations of this world will lose their control over your life, giving way to the potential of a new and brighter tomorrow. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

THINGS ARE REVEALED TO THOSE WHO SEEK (AND PROVIDED TO THOSE WHO ACT)

Those who continually seek that which they do not have – who reach for the stars without differentiating whether it is night or day – who always seem to want what others have because they feel their own gifts or abilities are somehow inferior – will probably always be lacking. They will never feel that they have “arrived” as they are always “seeking to go” in a different direction. They are like seeds drifting upon the winds – moving from one place to another without ever taking root so that they might grow. They may enjoy many starts and stops in life – travelling upon a multitude of roads yet experiencing much frustration for they seldom remain on one path long enough to discover a destination. Rather than living their own life and experiencing the richness it might bring they ride upon the coat tails of others, skimming their enjoyment from the surface of life’s ocean – plucking only the floating debris left behind rather than diving deeply to find treasures of their own.

Those who feel they have all they could ever need – who do not desire any reward beyond what they have achieved – who always find comfort in “what is” rather than being curious about “what could be” – will probably find contentment in their life but may never realize their full potential. People finding happiness in the “here and now” without ever seeking to expand their horizons often live lives that are “safe” yet uneventful. They find that travelling a familiar path to a known destination provides contentment and predictability – an outcome that may not excite but that will never disappoint. They seek to avoid disillusionment by holding tightly to what is known – to eliminate defeat by seeking only that which will foster and perpetuate ongoing rewards (regardless of how large or small the reward might be). Though many find comfort within the familiar walls of a predictable reality, few that do find the joy of discovery. Though many find contentment within a predictable world, few of them find their dreams fulfilled (if they allow themselves to dream) or their future altered drastically (while they seek shelter from life’s storms within their established safe harbor). When one believes that nothing else exists or is needed beyond what is present within their “here and now” they tend to forfeit any thought of the possible due to their deeply rooted belief in the probable.

The secret to being all that you can be – to balancing your abilities against your capabilities while blending the comfort of where you are with the promise of what you might wish to achieve – is in setting realistic goals that stretch your reality from what is to what has not yet been accomplished. Intentional action must be initiated if change is desired – for to see or experience new things one must physically, emotionally and perceptually alter the current situation in such a way as to tear down the confining walls of “what is” and exchange them for limitless sea of “what could be.” While one may never fail without established goals, how can one measure progress unless an objective – or destination – has been determined?  How can one move forward if they do not know when to stop – or even when to start – doing something different? While one rarely tastes defeat when choosing to live within their familiar world, they cannot savor those things not previously considered possible until they decide to act differently rather than simply expecting altered results without changing their predictable behavior.

Life is not a spectator sport – it is an interactive opportunity to transform the present into the future (but does not do so on its own). Life provides us with the canvas upon which dreams may become reality (but we must act if we are to create such a masterpiece for it will not be painted on its own). Knowing the right answers to questions asked by another might help us overcome obstacles that could hinder our progress as we seek to accomplish defined things but leveraging our knowledge and experience to ask the right questions is much more fulfilling. Like planting seeds – if nurtured and cared for, our ideas will be brought to fruition but if planted and ignored they will die out and become overrun with weeds. When we act upon the information received from the questions we ask, our dreams will grow and become seeds ready for harvest. Recognize, though, that as much as it might wish to become an apple tree, a cherry pit will not grow into anything other than a cherry tree. In the same manner, our ideas and dreams must be plausible – we must have the knowledge, skill and ability to act once a path to success has been identified – if we are to enjoy the things found through our seeking, receive the benefits of our asking and achieve the rewards of accomplishing the goals we establish. We must seek before we can find. We must ask before we can receive. In order to achieve, we must act intentionally upon the information we discover while seeking and incorporate what we learn when asking. Seek to find and ask to receive BUT do not fail to act intentionally upon the information found and the wisdom received in order to achieve!