You have heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder”. How about taking a step back and spending time considering WHERE is your labor going? Simon Sinek says start with WHY. Why are you on planet earth and what is your purpose? When you know your WHY, then you can go to the next step and vision living your life on purpose. The late Stephen Covey taught to begin with the end in mind. Many people thought this was just for time management in project planning. Productivity is important once you put the big rocks in your calendar first, not last. Then, you work effectively to spend time on what matters most to you.
Here is my Labor Day challenge. Take an hour sometime and let yourself dream about what kind of life you want to live. Where would you live? Who would live with you? What are doing? How are you working? In other words, how are you living? Now that you have a VISION for your life, reverse engineer HOW to get there. This is different than just project management for a goal. You will have goals. Just make sure your goals take you to the destination of your vision. We can accomplish goals but leave what we value most behind. As you create a vision for your life, values become your North Star to guide you. I have mediated more than one divorce or family estrangement because a goal was reached, often wealth, but important relationships were damaged. I have been present for the last moments of a person on this planet. He or she never asked for money to surround the bed. The cherished moments are family surrounding the bed and celebrating the life of the person passing. Live life on purpose. Make a difference. Know where your labor is going.
The attorney selected for your case is critical to the outcome. If the other party retained a “bulldog,” aggressive attorney, the chances for mediation are slim. You will need to match the intensity of the aggressive, litigating attorney. This will be a VERY EXPENSIVE and DESTRUCTIVE process. I know very few people who enjoy the “win.” In fact, you can win the battle but lose the war.
As a mediator, I cultivate relationships with cooperative or collaborative attorneys. A cooperative attorney will fully represent you. He or she will also advise you about the cost, not only financially, but relationally about litigation. Cooperative attorneys can become agitated with one another, yet they keep the best interest of their clients in mind. I just settled a case involving two cooperative attorneys. A good mediator can help resolve issues between attorneys as well as the clients. There were moments in the case where I needed to help each attorney reflect on the current pathway and help problem-solve with creative options.
Collaborative attorneys are actually trained in collaborative practice. Thus, you need to ask if he or she has received training. Attorneys, clients, and mediators are all at the same table. A collaborative agreement is signed by all, defining the process and scope of work. Other professionals may be brought in as needed. As a client, you are fully represented, yet both attorneys are literally working for both clients seeking a peaceful and sustainable resolution. The process can still be expensive, yet less costly than litigation.
In mediation, I often need to send people to an attorney for a legal consultation. Mediation is based upon informed consent, thus understanding your legal rights is critical. Sometimes, clients wish to get an initial consultation before commencing mediation. Others will wait until several legal questions arise from the mediation process, then consult with an attorney for very precise counsel.
Therefore, when picking an attorney, you need to know WHY you need an attorney, HOW you will use the attorney, and WHAT you expect from your attorney. Genesis Mediation offers a FREE 15-minute consultation. We would be happy to help you understand how an attorney would interact on your case, and if needed, give you a number of attorneys to interview. And yes, you should interview several attorneys before selecting the one to represent you. We will be honest with you about if your case should be mediated or litigated and point you to the appropriate attorneys to match your need.
For some, getting through the stress of the holidays means trying to avoid the traditional family fight at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I remember my grandfather drinking too much, getting mad at my mom, she ends up crying, and him leaving early huffing and puffing out the door. So much for a Happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas!
As a mediator, I find avoiding family fights one of the top priorities for many during the holiday season. Here are a few of the common fights:
The In-Law Fight. Marriage does instantly create family. Parents never accepted the partner of the child. Children never accepted the new partner of a parent.
The Alcohol Induced Fight. Give anyone too much liquor and just watch the fireworks.
The Religion and Politics Fight. There is a reason why people stay away from these topics, especially after some alcohol.
The “You Never Amounted to Nothing” Diatribe. This is more of a rant than a fight. The result is just the same; victims and blood everywhere. Alcohol always helps this one get started.
Last, but least, the “Why Can’t You be Like the Others” Fight. This fight ofter originates with parents focused on the misfit child. The whole family would be better if the misfit would just learn to conform or “get along.”
Now that I have described some of my favorite holiday family fights, what can you do about them? Here are a few strategies. If you are hosting the holiday gathering, you can make some ground rules. How about limiting the amount of alcohol consumption for a start? Or, certain subjects or people are off limits for conversation. In order to keep things more positive, how about digging out some old family photos or movies. Many families have a great time reflecting on past events. You could even ask each family to bring one of their favorite photos and explain why they selected it. The point? If you are the host, you control the environment. You get a chance to possibly start some new traditions.
Now, if you are not hosting and attending the gathering at another family members home, here are some pointers. Think about how to excuse yourselves if the family starts down the fight trail. You can even have an agreed upon word or sentence that signals your spouse or family – time to leave. If you are ready to confront some difficult family behavior, schedule a pre-holiday conversation to discuss the issue. “We will not participate in conversations that quickly turn abusive. If we come, and you raise issues that lead to escalating conflict, we will leave. We would like to stay and enjoy the day. How about we think about how to make this a good day for everyone?.” Think about your words. Try to describe the situation accurately without using inflammatory descriptors. Many spouses and children do not feel safe at holiday gatherings. Thus, they would rather stay home.
If you are ready to invest in a process to create peace for your family, we are here to help you on that journey. We offer a FREE 15-minute phone consultation to help you make the first step on the journey.
I hope this holiday brings you and your family peace, joy, love and hope.
How about stopping the fighting and healthily resolving conflict? Here are three quick tips to get you down the drama-free road:
Original Intent. Remember, you loved this person so much you committed to a relationship together. Over time with consistent unresolved conflict, we begin to see the weaknesses and shortcomings of our partner. Often, these are the backsides of a strength that originally attracted us to him or her. Example. A person who is fun and spontaneous may overdraw the checking account. A person who is the rock of stability may seem inflexible and rigid. Once you begin seeing the negative in a person, changing out your lenses can be difficult. When we see people in a certain perspective, we often put them in a box they can rarely escape. Everything they say or do is now seen and heard in a negative perspective. We no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. We forgot if their original intent was positive. We keep them in a box of negativity. Only we can let them out. There are a few truly evil people in the world. I have not met any yet. Most people begin with good intentions, then something goes sideways. Remember where you started and when things came off the rails. That is the place to repair and put the relationship back on track.
2. Empathy and Understanding. Seek to understand before being understood. God gave us two ears and one mouth. We should use them in proportion. We can never truly understand what another person is feeling, even the one we love so much.
However, we can give the gift of listening to his or her heart, so they FEEL and EXPERIENCE being understood. All too often, we jump in with our own story and fail to listen to his or her story. Empathy is not sympathy. Most of us do want sympathy. We want those closest to understand us. You cannot begin to resolve conflict if you cannot understand each other. You do not need to agree, in fact, on some issues, you may never agree. However, you do need to respect and understand each other. Each of you must feel valued and important, so important you will give undivided attention to listen with empathy seeking to understand the other.
Perspective. We can fight over the most trivial things! One couple married over 75 years was asked the secret to their lifelong commitment. The answer was simple. “We decided not to fight over the little things”. When asked what a “little thing” was, they said almost everything. Perspective helps to frame life. I often use the crystal ball question. Do you think this would still be an issue five years from now? If the answer is yes, then you certainly need to work through the issue to find a resolution. If the answer is no, then let it go. You have made a little thing into a big thing. We need to fight the urge to always be right. You may prove yourself right and be all alone. Humility goes a long way to apology and forgiveness keeping your relationship strong and loving.
I could go on. Sharlyne and I have been married for over 44 years. Do we have disagreements? Of course! Do we remember the original intent of the other, understand with empathy, and keep things in perspective? Usually. We have our moments, too. But we repair and don’t leave conflict unresolved. May you as well.
Are you at peace amid everything swirling around you? For some, 2020 was challenging, but also rewarding. Some businesses grew to experience their best year ever. And, some businesses could not survive the lockdowns and were forced to close the doors. Normally, my spirit is deeply anchored and feels the waves battering the ship, yet the anchor holds firm. I will be honest, today the choppy waves are knocking me down a bit. So, let’s explore what it means to experience peace in spirit.
I realize not all of you listening may believe in the concept of spirit. However, many people believe in the human spirit. What in the world is the spirit? In my world view, spirit equals soul. You will not find the spirit in an autopsy. You cannot surgically remove it. Behavioral and neurological scientists have debated the existence of the spirit or soul for years. In the book, Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief by Newberg and d’Aquili, they write about research related to the “soul” or spirit. Fascinating stuff. I believe you are born with a soul you have a soul from the moment of conception. Now, since you have a soul, how do you find peace in your soul or spirit?
Here are 3 tips to creating peace in your spirit:
1. Anchor your Spirit. In Greek, the word spirit is derived from the word for breath, pneuma, often referred to as the breath of life. In Stoic thought, spirit is defined as the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person. The spirit needs a focal point, an anchor, a belief that becomes unshakeable. The anchor varies between people and their belief systems. For me, my anchor is Jesus. His anchor has stood the test of time for centuries in the lives of others. Jesus has anchored me for decades giving my spirit focus and purpose. My feelings may vary from day to day, just as I mentioned feeling a bit overwhelmed today. I know those feelings will pass and my anchor will hold.
2. Cultivate your Spirit. I don’t believe you can grow your spirit, but you can cultivate peace in your spirit. For me, that cultivation happens with consistent prayer, meditation, and practicing spiritual disciplines. For others, meditation is the key. Every day I spend time in Bible reading, prayer, journaling, and meditation. I frequently add fasting as well. Practicing these disciplines daily creates a strong sense of peace and calm in my spirit. Once a month, I spend a Day in Prayer. Setting this day aside has been life-changing for me. In the past, I would take a whole week for prayer and solitude. These daily behaviors have created a strong tether between my spirit and my anchor. When the storms of life come and the waves crash over the bow, I am confident my anchor will hold, even if my emotions sway with the waves.
3. Protect your Spirit. Protection is different than cultivation. I protect my spirit by limiting exposure to influences that could erode confidence in my anchor or the strength of my tether. I quit watching and reading the news years ago. I admit, this last year with the coronavirus, I did read more news than usual. Now, I have returned to my former habit. I try to stay informed of world events in other ways. I limit my time on social media except communities and groups. I feed my spirit with TED Talks, podcasts, and reading books. I am a non-fiction guy reading books dedicated to learning something new every day. The concept is protection and prevention. Focus on those things that bring peace, joy, and happiness. We entered 2020 planning of what we could gain and finished the year thankful for what we kept.
The world around us continues to grow unstable. We all need an anchor. We all need a strong tether. You can find peace in your spirit. If you need some help, hit me up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.