Defining your purpose, whether at life, work, a task, or at play, goes a long way to achieving a sense of success and satisfaction. Those without a sense of purpose are generally adrift, often dissatisfied and unhappy.
So what does purpose have to do with mediation and negotiation? Everything!
Where you can define purpose in all facets of your life, you can achieve better outcomes on all fronts. With a lack of purpose or direction in life, your dissatisfaction will spill over into work. Likewise, without purpose at work or in the tasks you undertake, the likelihood of success will diminish.
There is an overlap in purpose that impacts all that you do. When you can unify your purpose in both life and work, you will have the best chance to succeed. This is what I mean by the confluence of purpose.
For those that cannot figure out their purpose, one great starting place is to help others. If you can do it, paying it forward is an excellent purpose in itself. There are plenty of causes to get behind and no limit to those who need help, including homelessness, world hunger, the environment, education, civil rights, or simply coaching kids in sports.
The point is not to suggest you should make your purpose to achieve world peace. Instead, the point is to define purpose as a goal to help. How you do that is entirely up to you. You will have a better chance of achieving your goals when you define purpose as to help. In other words, Purpose = Help.
Purpose is the means to a goal, not the goal itself. In this way, you have control over your purpose, as all that is needed is your effort. Conversely, when you define purpose as making money or winning a trial, you do not necessarily control those outcomes.
Unifying Your Purpose
I would suggest that when you make it your goal to define purpose as help in all that you do, you will achieve a higher level of satisfaction and influence in your life. After nearly three decades as a lawyer, I decided that my purpose was to help others solve their legal disputes rather than be a participant in fighting out those disputes. I find greater satisfaction in helping people resolve their legal disputes than I do by winning a long and difficult trial.
Everything that I do is now directed towards that single unifying purpose of helping others to resolve disputes. I help lawyers with tips and strategies like this article, to be better at mediation and negotiation. Likewise, I help lawyers with tips and strategies regarding lawyer wellness as that leads to greater happiness, satisfaction, and more effective lawyering. In my work with the ADR Section of The Florida Bar, I seek to help my fellow mediators apply mindfulness to the mediation process, which leads to more ethical and better outcomes at mediation. My purpose in all three phases is to help, and the goal is to have a better mediation process, a more meaningful mediation.
Application of Purpose to Mediation and Negotiation
Altering your perspective at mediation or in a negotiation to help both parties resolve a problem will open many possibilities. You will lose the fixation on only focusing on your interests. Making a good deal just for you does not make the other party more likely to agree.
As litigators, we tend to concentrate on our interests and needs, but it takes two to make a deal. Showing a general interest, curiosity, and desire to help the other side will not only build rapport but open up creative opportunities to find a collaborative solution. That is the art of the deal.
In the end, it really is pretty simple. Start to define your purpose as a genuine desire to help. Executing your purpose and controlling your effort to maximize helping others will lead to satisfaction and happiness. A happier lawyer will achieve better influence and outcomes. Better outcomes will lead to a happier client as a result. This is a case where the purpose of help as a means certainly justifies the ends.
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