Green River Star -

By Lu Sweet
Western Wyoming Community College 

Lifelong Learning: The difference between "with" and "for"


September 6, 2017

It’s not uncommon nowadays to see a group of people sitting together while they are all texting or checking social media on their phones. They are “with” each other in proximity but they are not actually engaged “for” each other.

I think it’s important in today’s super busy world that we all make conscious efforts to spend time “for” each other – talking, listening, sharing, laughing, being together – not just being around each other in the same vicinity.

Jeff Van Gundy is a former NBA and college basketball coach, who is currently working for ESPN.

I love one of his quotes: “The best teams play FOR each other, not WITH each other.”

This quote says it all when you are part of an athletic team, and really, a part of any team – including a work team or a family unit.

For me, the word “with” would imply that you are doing something while in close proximity to another person.

I feel the word “for” in this case, means you are doing something where there is a beneficiary of your actions. You have someone in mind while you are doing whatever you are doing. You are trying to make a difference, you have a direction or goal, and you have purposeful intention.

I had a discussion with my children about this quote and what I thought it means and how powerful I think it is.

I told them they could remember it with a little hand symbol that I made up to help myself and I will share it with you.

Take one hand and put three fingers up as if you are displaying the number three or making a “w.’ This “w” symbolizes the word “with.” Now, by simply adding a little (put up your little finger), you now have four fingers raised on your hand.

These four fingers remind me of the word “for” (four fingers symbolizes the word “for.”) By doing a just a little more and giving a little extra, we can go from working “with” someone to working “for” them.

When you are “with” someone, you could very well be sitting in the same room as another person, but not be fully vested or engaged in them.

When you are working “for” someone else, you have made the conscious decision to give all that you are to be there for them, to listen to them, to sacrifice and work for them by helping them accomplish their goals as well as your own.

The story goes that a little girl was suffering from a serious disease and needed a blood transfusion from her five year-old brother, who had survived the same disease and developed the necessary antibodies to combat the illness.

The doctor asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

He took a deep breath and said, “Yes, if it will save her.” As he lay next to his sister, the color returned to her cheeks. He then asked “will I start to die right away?” He thought he was going to have to give all his blood in order to save her, but even so, he was willing to do this for her.

When I write my articles, I feel as though I am with you, but moreover, I write my articles for you all. I try to share my thoughts hoping that maybe, just maybe, they may inspire you to do something you might have been hesitate to do, or to do something more than just the minimum, which I call, “manning the table.”

For me, “manning the table” means I sit there and put in my time. Instead, doing a little extra “for” others, would mean that I make a conscious effort to try to make a measurable difference.

If we all take an extra moment to evaluate what we can do “for” others and then go do it, I truly believe we can all make a huge collective difference.


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