To be an Enabler or a Helper – that is the question. I have constantly been confronted with a dilemma as a provider of knowledge and service. People “don’t want my help”. So what does that mean to them, in addition to what it means for the success of my business?
When we are strong, willful, and feel very capable, then having someone say “I can help you” does not sit well. The response whether verbal or otherwise is something like…“I don’t need help, I am perfectly capable and I object to you saying otherwise!”
For many people I meet, particularly the seniors, if I utter the word “help”, I am done, conversation closed. For some people, that word throws the walls up so fast that all that remains is polite discourse. Those offended people will be polite, but they will refuse to open up. So much for my intent to ENGAGE. ;- (
Enabling is to empower to someone’s’ benefit – to support the goals of another person. So I let’s explore this further.
I support this idea: BE AN ENABLER. Why and how? Because if you enable you:
Add real value
Empower action by others
Can invest in good not evil
Enabling for good, not evil is to empower to the benefit of others – to support the goals of another person. If you are a drunk, and your purpose is to stay a drunk and all that comes with it, then providing alcohol and never challenging you is an example of enabling you. This is my mind would be a tacit investment in evil. However, the drunk has apparently made a purposeful choice in this case. So let’s take an easier example.
Assume a person has a goal, yet the goal seems overwhelming or at the very least full of problems or factors. Then the enabler will be someone who works with you to solve the challenges and enable reaching the goal. This would be an investment in good, that empowers action by others AND adds real value.
The big difference between help and enabling will be the permission factor. Help is assistance with or without permission. Enabling is a collaboration with permission. But there is also “tacit acceptance”. In my experience, tacit acceptance is often associated with the negative enabling scenario, like supporting a drunk lifestyle. The person you are enabling simply accepts you provide for them. Yet true permission paves the way for positive enabling.
I think enabling can be thought of as a directed investment in another person. It is how I feel in my daily work when I see a situation where a person is stuck, to their own detriment. Further, that all indications (from my insights) are they’d be happier or better off in many ways with a particular change. But they can not see that because they are immersed in fears, perceived problems, and negative assumptions. So I’m drawn to Add Value to that person’s life.
Yet it becomes a question of investment. How invested do you want to be on behalf of that other person?
Enabling change can be a long term investment. The enabler is unlikely to get immediate buy-in to the collaboration or encouragement of taking action. Initiating the relationship that creates the trust required (for a person to share themselves) takes patience. Patience takes time, and without time and conversational patience the other person will not move forward. They may even shut down completely. We can not make someone have a relationship with us. Nor can we cause people to take action when it is not their decision.
Empowering other people usually means planting a seed (comment or demonstration) then letting it germinate. Simply put, that usually means don’t talk too much and cause the other person to feel harassed. Easier said than done for sure!
Picking the right seed is tricky – the enabler has to steer away from their own internal conversation. The seed must be emotionally relevant (significantly) to the other person.
Consistency of effort (along with patience) will be your investment. The enabler might be a good action person, and loath to wait for others so this investment is quite demanding. If seeds are to be planted, and small actions by your protégé to be celebrated which will lay the foundations of empowerment – it takes very consistent effort. Think of it this way, if you don’t water the seed regularly it will not germinate. Instead, it will be forgotten or dismissed by your protégé.
Doing for others is helping, it is not enabling. Look around you and consider the people you are compelled to support. They must be a part of the “do” – in fact, they must be a part of the decision to “do”. With some patience, you can be an extraordinary enabler. Investing in good (not evil), and empowering others not only adds value to the other person – it adds real value to YOUR LIFE. You truly become a valuable person, with the pride and empowerment that comes with that status. This is the work I do every day, through my programs in Migrate Home. The pace is excruciatingly slow in some cases, yet I’m determined to invest for the good I see in other people’s lives.
Congratulations! Now go forth and choose your investment wisely. BE AN ENABLER – Add real value – Empower action in others – Invest for good not evil.