Learning from the Persecutor
Last week our blog was titled “The Many Faces of the Persecutor,” in which we described several ways the Persecutor role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) may appear. As unpleasant as Persecutors can be—whether they show up as people, conditions, or situations—they can also be openings for great learning.
When you cultivate the antidote to the Persecutor, which is the Challenger role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic), it can transform your difficult experience into learning and growth. In David’s book, The Power of TED*, the main character, Ted, describes the potential value of the Persecutor role:
When problems and obstacles arise…welcome them as teachers that are challenging you to grow. In this way, you transform your situation into an opportunity for action or learning, and the gift of the Challenger is yours. The pain perceived from the Persecutor then becomes the bittersweet fruit of deepening knowledge, of learning from your experience. (page 128)
Ted and a second character, Sophia, continue their dialogue about how to transform the Persecutor role. Sophia suggests making a list of seven ways to identify the “gifts” of learning and growth a Persecutor may provide.
This is often easier said than done. Victimization is real and we certainly know that some experiences are traumatic and painful. Even the smaller and less traumatic events often require distance and time before one is able to discern the lessons learned.
In real life, David tells a story about how he learned the power of identifying seven gifts when he was stuck in an exasperating work situation with his “worst boss ever.” He didn’t see all that he was learning at the time, but later his seven powerful insights became principles that have guided him in his career. Here are just three:
- Teamwork does not occur when the boss is the “center of it all.” Co-creating is a collaborative effort and the times are few in which the formal leader needs to step in and be “the boss” who calls the shots.
- The boss rarely needs to exercise “power over” direct reports and, when they do, creativity and innovation is often stifled. Instead, sharing “power with” coworkers and cultivating the “power to” co-create is core to team empowerment. (We wrote of this in a previous blog.)
- Human beings are social beings who want to be inspired and encouraged, rather than controlled or overly managed.
These lessons, along with several others, have been gifts that have helped form our TED* and 3 Vital Questions® Trainings, Coaching Courses, and work. It took some years to discern, distill, and test these insights.
When mired in the middle of a drama-filled situations, it can be difficult to find the good. But, with time and reflection, it is possible to grasp the learning embedded in the persecuting experience.
Here are a few tips to help you identify the ways your Persecutors may be your teachers:
Give Yourself Time: Allow your mind and heart to settle. It is natural to feel anxiety when in the midst of the difficult experience, or when reflecting on it.
Write down your thoughts, no matter how chaotic or unclear they may be. With a private journal or computer file, begin making a list from 1 to 7, with plenty of space for what you are learning to morph and change.
Ask yourself: What has this experience come into my life for me to learn? Write whatever comes to mind and treat it as a “first draft” that you will edit and hone over time.