Monday, June 06, 2005

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

Recently, I sat on a panel with dear friends,Chuck Doran and Chris Kauders to discuss our various career choices during a Program on Negotiation lecture taught by David Seibel of Insight Partners.

The discussion was very animated with students asking about our styles as mediators and some of our toughest cases. Afterwards, a woman approached me to say my work teaching human resource professionals to use mediation techniques was sorely needed.

I agreed and asked what she did before becoming a mediator. Well, turns out she had 25 years as an HR person under her belt. Before I could ask more she said she was glad to be out of HR and looking for new challenges in mediation. She was quite happy to give up her entire body of work to start again. I was floored.

Is that you? Do you have expertise, experience, connections and friends you're willing to abandon to start anew as a mediator? If so, I have one question for you: WHY? Why start from nothing when you have a ready made platform? Why not see how you can use mediation to enhance or change the work you know so well? (Ok, so that was three questions.)

I imagine that woman was suffering from burn out. This, I can understand. I've felt burnt out many times. Each time I asked myself: what am I actually frustrated by, the problem, the people or the process?

I see my conflict work as a way to change the world. Idealisic, yet true. I'm still interested in solving the basic problem of how can people be more effective and feel more confident in managing conflict. I still like and admire the people I work with in the ADR world like Gail Packer, a master trainer and the executive director of Community Dispute Settlement Center. So, the burn-out was not about the people or the problem.

I struggled with the process- how I was finding and serving my clients. I was in the wrong environmnent. Once I changed that my passion, enthusiam and energy returned. Is it time for you to reconsider, too?

I feel so strongly about building a mediation practice that embraces your expertise- past and future- that I started this blog to help. Besides, there's no sense in you repeating mistakes when my friends and I can guide you around them.

Speaking of friends, Gail Packer has agreed to be interviewed for the Trailblazer Interview Series. Not only is Gail a tireless advocate for mediation in non-traditional families but she knows Ben Affleck personally. Stay tuned.

Ciao, Dina


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