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Support vs Help

I’m excited for another week where we come together to explore how language impacts our lives. This week, like always, let’s kick things off with a moment of gratitude.

I’m particularly thankful this week because I had the incredible opportunity to speak at the National Waste and Recycling Conference, Waste Expo, in Las Vegas. A huge shoutout to Flo and Mallory from Waste Expo for inviting me six months ago and for changing up the format this year to more of a TEDx-style talk. I also want to thank John Sacco from Sierra International Machinery, a mentor of mine and a leader in the recycling industry, for his support. John came to see me speak and even gave me a shoutout on LinkedIn, which boosted my exposure.

Now, let’s dive into this week’s topic. I’ve been on the road talking about my book, “Words Fucking Matter: Retrain Your Brain to Use Language That Serves You“. My mission is to change the world one word at a time, empowering people through the use of language. As Stephen Covey says in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” thoughts govern actions, and actions shape your destiny.

Today, we’re going to explore the difference between “help” and “support.” This topic came up when Taylor, my podcast producer, asked me if there were any concepts from my book that didn’t make the final cut. The words “help” and “support” stood out to me because of their significant implications.

Years ago, I did a TEDx talk about the transformation from troops in boots to veterans in the civilian world. I used the analogy of a soldier stuck in a hole. Help is when people throw money into the hole or take selfies saying they helped a veteran. But the soldier is still in the hole. Support, on the other hand, is when someone gets into the hole with the soldier, understanding their situation, and helps build a way out together.

Politicians never ask for your help; they ask for your support. They have a vision and want your support to achieve it. Similarly, in personal and professional relationships, when people ask for help, they often mean support to reach a future state. Focus on the end goal and ask, “What support do you need to get there?”

In business, I use this approach with my team. As a leader, I define the end state and empower my team to figure out the “how.” This method fosters buy-in and collaboration. When you give clear support, your team can identify blind spots and offer solutions, making the entire process more effective.

One of the biggest challenges in relationships, both business and personal, is understanding what the other person truly needs. Instead of trying to solve their problems, ask them about their ideal outcome and how you can support them. This empowers them and ensures you’re on the same page.

For example, when someone is going through a tough time, instead of offering unsolicited solutions, ask how you can support them. If they need someone to listen, be that person. If they need practical help, provide it. Let them control the what and involve yourself in the how.

In my own life, I’ve seen the power of support. Last December, I had to let go of a senior leader in my company. I didn’t need help; I needed support. By clearly defining what our organization needed, I empowered others to come up with the how. This approach not only solved the immediate problem but also built a stronger, more cohesive team.

This week, I challenge you to examine areas where you think you’re helping and ask yourself what the other person’s end state is. Listen intentionally and ask questions to understand their goals. Support them in a way that aligns with their vision.

Remember, changing one word can change your trajectory. It may feel uncomfortable, but as P.T. Barnum said, “Comfort is the enemy of progress.” Embrace the discomfort and let it propel you forward.

So, go out there and do the three things I ask of you every week: do the fucking thing, tell the fucking world, and show the fuck up. See you next week!

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Andy Weins

Andy Weins is a fourth-generation entrepreneur, Veteran of the U.S. Army, and speaker. Through consulting, teaching, podcasting, and writing, he is an enthusiastic supporter of Veterans, entrepreneurs, community engagement, individual empowerment, and the environment.

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