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Tuesday Insight - Enablers vs Debilitators

The best teacher I ever had was, undoubtedly, Mr Emery. When I was nine, I started my first ‘novel’ and I’ll never forget his enthusiasm and encouragement of my efforts. I wrote three chapters before the distractions of youth and the complexities of writing about the adventures of swallows emigrating to Africa, when I’d never actually left Wiltshire, got in the way. Still, I did apparently get so far as to discover that there’s an island called the Isle d’Ouessant somewhere in the Atlantic (it’s off the coast of Brittany as it turns out) as this was to be the unlikely title of the fourth chapter. 

Mr Emery encouraged my creativity in other ways too. Around the same time, he gave me a comedic role in a school pantomime, where I played Dick Whittington’s other companion – a mostly mute Mynah bird, who took delight in getting Dick into trouble. More on that perhaps next time. 

Mr Emery was, in short, an Enabler and, it turns out, one of the most important positive influences on my life so far. Indeed, training activities like Murder at Glasstap Grange, Jack Fruggle’s Treasure and Boosting Glasstap’s Future, would probably never have been written without him. 

You can probably all think of people who have enabled you, and equally, I’m sure you can remember teachers or other influencers who might be better described as Debilitators. (It's not a real word - I just made it up. You can probably thank Mr Emery for that too.)

It’s no coincidence that Glasstap’s strapline for more than 15 years has been ‘Enabling Trainers’. Of all the skills great trainers possess, I think being an Enabler is possibly the most important. It's something I think we should all aspire to be. 

So, what does an enabler do, and how do they differ from Debilitators?

In short, an Enabler opens doors to new opportunities and encourages you to step through them. They help you out of your comfort zone, into the learning zone, whilst not pushing you so hard that you fall into the black chasm of the panic zone. They help you develop the skills and behaviours to enable you to grasp new opportunities. Perhaps most of all, they’re enthusiastic about the future, your future, and they instil in you a sense of excitement that creates its own momentum for change.

A Debilitator, on the other hand, is someone who not only doesn’t want to go through an open door themselves, they actively discourage others from stepping into the unknown, from taking risks, or risking failure. They look backwards rather than forwards, sap energy from ideas and drain enthusiasm. 

Faced with my novel, a debilitating teacher might have spent more time correcting my grammar, pointing out the unlikelihood of my plot, reminding me that the chances of it being published were tiny, and telling me I’d bitten off more than I could chew and would never finish. 

I didn’t finish, but that doesn’t matter. The story I started aged nine began a journey that continues to this day. Because my teacher, Mr Emery, was an Enabler.  

Trainers' Library's materials are designed to help all trainers become better enablers, whilst having fun themselves, and hopefully you've seen that for yourselves. If not, take a look at our Free Samples, which includes Witches of Glum, a story I'm proud of for it's ability to deliver lessons about stereotypes and assumptions powerfully. I'd love to hear your stories about what's helped you enable others, or about people who have been your Enablers. 

Until next time..

July 18 2017Rod Webb

Rod Webb

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