Donna and I are in Warsaw, Poland this week where I am coaching and facilitating in a global leadership program for executives of companies who do business around the world. We have had the opportunity to learn more about the history of Poland and the remarkable journey of healing and transformation that has occurred in a few short years. By any measure the people of Poland have been Victims of a tragic and war-torn history and yet have chosen to be Creators of their own destiny.
Last evening we heard a presentation by an American professor of Eastern European history who has been in Poland for 25 years. He reminded us of the six years of destruction during World War II when 20% of the Polish population was killed and over 50% lost their homes. After the War, the Soviets and Communist Party leaders continued a repressive regime but the Pols remained mostly peaceful and loyal to who they were as Polish people.
In the summer of 1980, Lech Walesa began the Solidarity movement from the shipyards, organizing workers and building the first non-Communist trade-union, which grew into a social movement, even in the face of danger and further repression. Holding a Creator’s vision, Walesa and 10 million Pols took to the streets with a list of demands for basic human and worker rights, using the techniques of non-violent civil resistance. By 1989, free elections were held and the Polish people elected Walesa as their first president in 1990. Their thirst for freedom spread throughout the Eastern European bloc and contributed to the eventual tearing down of the Berlin wall in 1990.
We learned from the American professor that the Solidarity leaders and their movement focused on what they wanted (as Creators), rather than reacting with blame for the victimhood of repression and past atrocities.
To do the latter would have perpetuated the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™. Instead, they acted more out of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ and stood not only as Creators, but as Challengers to the communist regime. They also looked up their past not as a series of Persecutors (which they could have easily done), but saw them as Challengers from which to learn and discern how they chose to develop.
As the country evolved as an independent, democratic country, the leaders of the movement asked, “How might we change our relationship with the Soviets?” And, “How might we change our relationship with the Germans?” They took responsibility for their own healing and set the stage for what is now called the Polish Miracle. In less than 20 years Poland has become an engine for growth—the only European country that has consistently grown each year even during the global economic downturn.
I sense this optimism everywhere I go. The Polish people are industrious and see opportunity at each corner. Not focusing on the past or earlier tragedies, they are taking responsibility for how they view their former enemies and have chosen healing over being a Victim. As Creators, they have asked themselves, “What do we want?” and have taken responsibility for the healing that is necessary to manifest their vision.
We can all learn from the example of the Polish people and become Creators in our own lives.