You Can Count On Me

Lesson number: 

What are five of the most meaningful words that are put together in one phrase, and can be music to one's ears? How about "You Can Count On Me?" Everyone wants to believe that there's someone out there in their sphere of influence, whom they can truly count on when needed. However, as simple as this phrase may be to say, it's not as easy to always execute as promised.

To be counted on can be a wonderful way to build your own self esteem. In business and sports, great teams are built on its members being able to execute their responsibilities as planned. In football the success of a play is determined by each team member executing his portion of the play. Each member is counting on each other to come through with their individual assignment. The members who "always come through," usually become the leaders on the team and develop the highest self esteem in the process.

If you are a conscientious parent, guardian or caretaker, you probably have used this phrase with those you love – and have really meant it; as opposed to those who dole out this phrase to just anyone. To be sure, we must all clearly realize that to be truly counted on, is a responsibility to be taken seriously by mature and caring individuals.

When children are growing up through their teenage and early adult years, they seem to believe that their friends are the only individuals that they can count on. Even though their parents prove time and again that they are always there for them when needed, young adults tend to lean toward their friends as their confidants and those they trust most. Since parents have a tendency to preach and teach after coming through for them, many young adults will only approach their parents as a last resort. However, they will tap their parents when they are the only ones who can bail them out of their challenges. This is unfortunate, because small challenges when caught in time require easier solutions than larger challenges that are ignored over time. Thus, it becomes prudent for young adults to confide in their parents and make these special people who they can always count on a part of their decision making process.

Reversing the tables, how many parents of young adults can count on their children to come through for even small requests when asked? Should parental relationships be all one-sided or should they be like the teams described above where all members count on each other when needed?

I believe that relationships of all kinds are always closer and stronger when they are engaged by individuals who can count on each other. As an example the members of our military form very strong bonds with total strangers from different states, religions and cultural backgrounds. These individuals depend on each other to cooperate and be counted on whenever necessary. Their survival in battle depends on this type of relationship. Some of the best stories I have heard about camaraderie and trust has come from veterans who counted on each other during war times.

So how can we learn to be counted on as well as find people who we can count on? The first part of this question is easier than the second part. That's because you have some control over your own actions and can make it a top priority in your own life to come through on your promises. Before you make the statement of "You Can Count On Me" with anyone, you need to consider that your word is a binding contract with the person you are promising. You need to be prepared to say these words unconditionally, because you have no idea if the other person will actually reciprocate. It's prudent to be thrifty with this phrase and only say it when you truly mean to come through regardless of the costs you may incur in time, resources or capital. As for the second part of finding people you can truly count on, Good Luck. Luck is about the chance you have, because you really have no control over the actions of others. You can only hope for the best and have the faith that they will come through for you when needed.

If you are fortunate enough to remain healthy as you grow older into middle age and your senior years, you may find that you will be counted on ten times for every one time you count on others. But even at this ten to one ratio, I believe that all is OK. I say this because I have watched many healthy active seniors, whose lives are more satisfying and meaningful because they are needed by others. Their lives have more purpose as they keep coming through for others and usually do so unconditionally. Sure it's always a bonus when they can feel totally appreciated and their acts of coming though are reciprocated in some way. But the real bonus for these individuals is that they end up with the biggest hearts and best attitudes on earth.

With 2005 fast approaching, it's a great time for a resolution. If you are a young adult, let your parents know that they can always count on you whenever needed. If you are a parent, reiterate to your children that they can always count on you. Then take an inventory of those you care about – and if you really mean it – let those select few in your life know that they can count on you. I believe that the strong relationships that can form from people really counting on each other can add lots of satisfaction and meaning to one's life and make our planet a better place for all.