The word support is commonly used these days, often as a modifier with a noun: Support Group, Support Network, Personal Support, Tech Support.
In our work at Action Circles, support is a richly layered verb. It isn’t used to describe general helpfulness or kindness, or having someone’s back (although these are good things too, in their own right). Support in this shop means buttress, brace, champion, hold up, underpin, and encourage. Support at Action circles is focused assistance to a colleague or client so she or he can achieve a task or goal. It is close observation of another through the lens of ones own knowledge and expertise combined with a willingness to share that knowledge. Active support is respectful: it acknowledges the integrity and autonomy of the other, and allows a person to make mistakes in a milieu in which they can be examined without fear or shame—it encourages the vulnerability that risk entails. There is a shared belief that the deepest learning—the transformative kind —is experiential, which involves risk.
Support also creates a relationship between an experienced person and her less-experienced colleague or client, which forms the foundation for future collaborations. As a new member of the Action Circles team I have an immediate need for this kind of engaged support from my colleagues. The fundamental respect they demonstrate, as they generously support my first forays into the world of consulting and lobbying, is humbling, and has inspired courage and trust and a desire to honor their investment and rise with their expectations.
Amelia W. Silver