Lean on Me

When most people hear the title of this article, they cannot help, but recall the song by the same title, written by Bill Withers, in 1972. The song reached number one status in the US, performed by Club Nouveau,  in 1987. A various array of performers have also done the song, including Tina Turner, Tom Jones and Al Green.  In 1989, a movie based on the life of Joe Clark, a principal whose unconventional methods proved to be effective in salvaging a a troubled school; the song was used for the theme and title of the motion picture. This song has become a staple of music and the lyrics tell a story of hope and strength that could be found from those who surround us.


We have all had moments in our lives, where we feel that there is no hope in sight.  It is during these times that we feel extremely vulnerable and helpless.  The longer the amount of time that we spend in this abyss of despair, the more damaging the effects can be to our self-esteem.  In times like this, it is necessary to have a good support system in place. As I have mentioned, in previous articles, it is very important to surround ourselves with positive people in our lives and remove the pessimists. This is a fact of life, you cannot soar with the eagles, if you run with the turkeys.


Things don’t always go as we plan, but when we have someone that we could count on, it is so much easier to adapt or recover. The degree of difficulty is not what should matter, it is the level of affinity that keeps us going forward. Whether you are enduring or tenacious, it is always very comforting to know that someone or something will be there to lift your spirits. People find assurance in different ways.  Sometimes it is the person who is closest to you like a spouse or parent.  Other times we turn to friends or acquaintances who have showed genuine care and concern about our situation.  Today, there our professional consultants or coaches that can help us achieve our goals.  There are other times when we just find strength and courage in the people that surround us, that we have never taken notice of. Let me explain what I mean.


People that go through life with a defeated attitude will never find that someone or something to lean on and lessen their load. When people focus on the problem, it is often difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We often complicate our own lives by not being open-minded and receptive to the people that have been placed around us.  A person who has become unemployed is desperately seeking employment in the field that they have been practicing for the past number of years.  They will only look for employment in that one particular area and not open their eyes to new possibilities of something different.  Our own complacency will not allow us to see beyond our obstacle.


In this particular scenario, friends and acquaintances will give us advice to seek a position in a totally different field.  Our resistance to change will often cloud our judgment with negative thoughts of possible failure; instead we should look with optimism of the endless possibilities of a new venture.  We often need to be diligent in our thoughts and ideas and unleash our true potential.  There have been many entrepreneurs that have left their careers or fields of study to pursue a passion.  Someone or something had to encourage and motivate their desire.  There is no doubt that the odds were stacked against their success, but at the end is so much sweeter.  One of the most recent examples of this is the life story of  Steve Jobs.  Before Mr. Jobs reach the level of success that he attained, he dropped out of college, was fired as CEO of the company that he founded, then set out to start out another company which was later on acquired by Apple.  After a difficult journey, Mr. Jobs was then again named the CEO of Apple, Inc.  In one of his lectures, Mr. Jobs described how each of his failures was necessary for him to reach the level of expertise in the computer and business fields.  Mistakes are a necessary part of life, if we want to grow.


So the next time that you have an idea for a business, self growth, change of pace or an adventure, start by gathering your support group.  The people who have faith and confidence in your abilities and will empower you to reach new heights.  They will be your leaders and your crutches to help you get through whatever it is you are attempting to do.  We can always find strength in various people, some of whom, we do not even consider to be favorable.  It is often the people that you least expect that will surprise you and go to bat for you.  When you have reached the level that you desired, don’t forget to look back and be the crutch for those who are also looking to strive.

This is the equivalent of human recycling.  The ones who were once defeated or beaten.  Those who were great but now have fallen, help to lift them up again.  If they truly have the desire to rise, then they probably just need someone to lean on.  A few words of kindness, a shoulder to cry on or a gesture of humanity, is all most of us need to be made whole again.  At the end of the day, we do not need society or government telling us how to take care of our own.  It is a instinctive behavior to be kind and thoughtful to others.  As one of the lines in the song goes,  ” sometimes we all need someone to lean on.”  Let’s take care of one another!




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German (Sal) & Milja Saldarriaga
Fort Mill, SC

I am available for lectures, consulting, life coaching, motivational speaking, interviews and appearances.

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My Life Experience

  • Retired New York City police officer
  • coping with heart disease since 1996
  • had defibrillator/pacemaker implanted in Oct 2003
  • had Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted in September 2009
  • Received heart transplant September 2010.
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