Of the three TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® roles of Creator, Challenger, and Coach, we receive the most questions about the shift from the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) role of Persecutor to Challenger.
We humans have a strong tendency to judge others and be critical of ourselves. While being a Persecutor to others may be what we initially think of, we all also have an “inner-Persecutor,” which is that inner disparaging critic.
Instead of being critical to yourself or others as a Persecutor, the Challenger in you is a catalyst for learning. You have had a Challenger in our life at some point, we are sure of it. It may have been a teacher, boss, or grandparent—someone who delivered the rock-solid truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not. Their intent was to encourage you to grow, step-up, and be your best version of yourself.
For that reason, Challengers shake things up and are often called the “truth-tellers.” They go to the heart of the matter and frequently deliver the hard facts, while still inspiring others, and themselves, to reach for the highest good.
The Challenger in your life may not be a person. It may be a difficult situation like a health issue, economic difficulty, or a natural disaster.
There are three primary beliefs that provide the pathway in making the shift from Persecutor to Challenger:
Belief #1: Life is about learning and growth.
Challengers ask, “Given the situation, what is here for me to learn or gain?” When faced with problems the Persecutor resorts to blame and judgment. Challengers, instead, focus on continuous learning for themselves and others.
Belief #2: Life is ever-changing and uncertain, so I rest on the conviction of my values.
Challengers do not acquiesce to the drama of the moment. Instead, they focus on taking a stand for what they believe, even in the middle of chaos and change. They also challenge others to live in integrity with their values.
Belief #3: Life is about seeing and telling the truth, without blame or judgment.
This belief is the foundation of the “truth-teller.” Challengers see reality for what it is and neither minimize nor catastrophize a situation to gain position or be “one up.” Challengers are courageous and willing to say what no one else wants to say (i.e., they point out the “elephant in the room”).
Here are a few suggestions to shift from being a Persecutor to Challenger to others:
1. View others as Creators. Prior to challenging others, first reflect upon your intentions. Ask yourself: “What is my intention—to put down, look good, or be right or, to build up and support the other?” Challengers challenge from a learning intention.
2. Be open to new ideas and experiences. Challenge yourself to learn something new that makes you feel uncomfortable, then follow your curiosity. This loosens your grip on the need to know.
3. Develop self-awareness in the moment by learning to pause and listen to your internal talk. You may notice the ego’s need to stay in control and be right. In addition, when you hear that inner-Persecutor voice, pause and ask, “What is here for me to learn?”
4. Cultivate compassion. Growth and change are not easy! Be compassionate with yourself and others as you/they learn and respond to life Challengers.
A word of caution here—you can never guarantee how others see you. Your intention may be to Challenge and focus on continuous learning, but you cannot be certain others will always see you that way. Don’t let that possibility deter you from this powerful shift from Persecutor to Challenger.
Both the internal shift to yourself and in relationship with others can be powerful and enlightening as you co-create outcomes in your life.