Being An ENABLER Can Be A Good Thing

These days, when we hear the word “enabler” there is a negative connotation implied because too frequently it is used as a psychology term. Unfortunately, Enabler isn’t generally associated with all the positive traits exhibited by those who try to bring out the best in others. Too bad!  Because among us are those rare, special people who encourage, connect, introduce, invite and collaborate to help others succeed.  Those are the real enablers!
Maybe you’ve seen the recent public service announcement (PSA) on TV with the teenager lamenting her mom was an enabler because she supported underage drinking and other behaviors the daughter knew were wrong.  The daughter was right!  Her mom was promoting the misconduct of minors, along with demonstrating her lack of parenting skills.  This sort of thing is wrong!  But it gives the word enabler a bad rap!
When you enable someone, you empower them, and you encourage them, hopefully to go after all the positive things they can achieve.  Whether enabling someone to complete a single task or to pursue and fill a dream, an enabler is there to cheer you on and push you forward.
People who rescue and give homes to abused or abandoned animals are enablers. Those who practice the healing arts – whether Western or Chinese medicine – are enablers. Teachers are enablers!  Anyone who properly guides you outside your personal comfort zone to try something new or to accomplish a goal is an enabler.  Those whose jobs it is to protect us and keep us safe – police and firefighters – and those brave men and women of our military are all enablers. People who invite you to dinner and sit you next to someone absolutely amazing – whether for dating or networking – are enablers.
Enablers are consummate collectors, and sharers, of information and resources.  They are voracious in their networking, make lasting connections, and build strong interpersonal relationships.  These days they also need to be avid and efficient users of social media and networking tools.  And the best are fastidious in keeping notes about their contacts, tickler files that remind them of important dates or goals, and provide a healthy dose of enthusiasm for the ideas and efforts of those around them.  Enablers don’t just help you achieve, they inspire, root for, and applaud your aspirations to be fulfilled.
Nion McEvoy, the esteemed chairman and CEO of Chronicle Books, recently used the term “angelic enabler” to describe Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who passed away last week.  Kathi truly was a fantastic enabler.  In recent days I’ve heard many people describe how much longer and stronger their resumes are because of Kathi  High, and extremely worthy praise, indeed!
Among her many achievements, Kathi enabled a group of well-known published authors (The Rock Bottom Remainders) to, as Roy Blount said it, “suspend your credibility” and find their inner rock star. She got a bunch of rock stars to talk about safe sex practices and promote the use of condoms.  She hosted a live monthly music jam that provided a stage and backup band to thousands of musicians of all caliber to give them a chance to shine.  Kathi was tireless in her efforts to help authors promote themselves, improve their writing and learn the publishing trade through The Author Enablers column she wrote with her husband, Sam Barry, that appeared in The Book Page,, available nationally in book stores and libraries, and via their website,
Kathi was also a published author, singer, songwriter, organizer, producer of radio shows and more.  I could go on about this remarkable woman; she was a close friend for nearly 40 years, so I got to witness a lot of her enabling.  If you want to know more about her and her accomplishments, pop her name into your favorite search engine.
No matter how hard we try, most of us will never rise to the level of super enabler that Kathi achieved, but it is certainly worth striving to get there. Make a personal commitment to let the examples set by Kathi and the other wonderful enablers in your life inspire you to help as many as you can achieve their goals.  When you enable others to do their best, you bring out the best in yourself.  Being an enabler can be a good thing!
And on this Memorial Day, let’s not forget all those who served and sacrificed, enabling the rest of us to celebrate our freedoms!
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