Mediation Blog

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

I recently returned from a trip (American Heartland Tour) for my non-profit, the Making History Project. The goal of the trip was to get out to the small towns of America and conduct oral history interviews of Veterans to preserve their military service stories.


The final stats for this trip were incredible. Over the course of 39 days, I was able to interview 39 Veterans while traveling across 15 States. In doing so, I drove a total of 7,659 miles while deeply exploring 28 great cities and visiting 3 Veteran Homes, 7 prominent military museums, 12 cultural and historical museums, and 21 national and state parks.


Of the many Veterans, their family members, Veterans Affairs employees, Veteran Home nurses and staff, VFW and American Legion Post leaders, that I met, they were all greatly appreciative and willing to participate in this important project. For that, I am grateful.


The Results


The American Heartland Tour checked off so many boxes for me, all of them not coincidentally were related to peace. After personally witnessing it countless times, there is no doubt that a sense of peace and gratification was brought to the Veterans that shared their stories with me.


Many of these Veterans were suffering in different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally at this stage of their life, but yet for the brief time with me, they seemed to forget all of that and were eager to relive and tell their stories.


Likewise, the attending family members, nurses, and staff also experienced a sense of peace and relief in seeing the Veterans genuinely enjoy themselves during their interviews. Myself, I felt at peace in the presence of these Veterans, grateful for the honor and trust they had in me to tell their stories to a stranger.


Incidental to this great trip was the opportunity to see all of these great small towns that make America great. Small-town America is alive and well, as every community was dedicated to preserving its history and traditions. I was truly at peace walking through the parks, neighborhoods, and museums of these various towns to see their differences, history, and the context for how they arose.


For the bigger picture of our planet, being in nature and seeing the natural marvels of the Badlands, Yellowstone, Monument Valley, the Arches, the Grand Canyon, and the Painted Desert, as well as all the creatures that inhabit these places was also awe-inspiring.


The Takeaway


Upon reflection, this trip gave me a greater appreciation for the connection we have to each other as people, communities, and to the planet and nature. The interviews and interaction with the Veterans demonstrated the human connection we can have. The small towns, museums, and their traditions reflected our differences across communities and cultures. The natural marvels, vast spaces, and the enormous passage of time to create all of it, demonstrated how short and yet precious our time is on this planet.


I would strongly encourage you to try to adopt a similar lens the next time you take a trip. Engage the people. Observe the community and traditions. Appreciate nature, its beauty, vastness, and the time it took to evolve. I think you will be amazed by the connections each of these three different lenses have.


For me, the lesson was pretty clear. To be a peacemaker, you need to be a people person and be willing to listen. At the same time, you need to appreciate the differences of culture that exist between us and the history that made it so. And bringing it home, given the relatively short period of time that we have on this great planet, we really do not have time to not pursue peace each and every day. Conflict is optional. Peace is a choice.


Stay well,

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator


Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

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Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Next week I am going on the road with my non-profit, the Making History Project, on an American Heartland Tour to conduct Veteran oral history interviews. This trip will last more than a month as I drive approximately 5,124 miles through 15 States and the small towns that make America great.


So instead of talking about mediation or negotiation this week, I thought I would highlight this trip and the importance of volunteering and helping others.


Volunteering and Helping Others


Every day we are making history, quite literally. What you chose to do and how you spend your time has a ripple effect that impacts future events and people. Karma says you are exactly where you are supposed to be based on what you have done. So the question is, are you using your time wisely?


I think you would agree with me that we are more than just lawyers. We can be spouses, parents, and responsible citizens. But what else can we be in those moments in between? It is in these moments that we become fuller, derive a purpose, can help others, and live a meaningful life.


Making History Project


I started the Making History Project back in 2015. The Making History Project is a non-profit whose purpose is to preserve the memories and stories of combat veterans through video oral history interviews. The oral history interviews are being archived with the US Library of Congress through its Veterans History Project as well as with the University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.


My interest in preserving Veterans' stories arose from my interest in history, World War II (my grandfather was a WWII veteran), and my trip to Normandy, France. While in Normandy during a D-Day anniversary, I was able to sit down and speak with numerous World War II veterans. What impacted me the most was how eager these World War II veterans were to tell me their stories but also how raw the emotions were after all that time.


Given the raw emotion I saw, it appeared evident to me that Veterans often suffer trauma from their combat experiences that can be a hidden and invisible injury. To that end, one purpose of my oral history interviews is to explore combat trauma and PTSD, and its similarities or differences across the generations from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and on to our current conflicts.


Leaving a Legacy


There are numerous outcomes for the oral history interviews that I conduct. First, many Veterans want to share their story and by doing so, they often express a sense of relief and satisfaction when they are done. Secondly, family members receive copies of the video oral history interview and thereby have a preserved memory of a loved one. Many times, a family member has told me that they learned a new story for the very first time when they heard the interview. Third, the oral history interviews capture a personal view of history for future generations when they are preserved in digital archives like the US Library of Congress. Finally, my comparison and study of combat trauma across the generations will hopefully increase awareness and the appreciation for the sacrifices that all of our Veterans make on our behalf.


The Takeaway


To have a fuller life, to have impact and meaning, find a way to help others through a project that you are interested in. You will be surprised how rewarding this can be and also how it will often compliment your professional life. When you do something that you enjoy and that has a purpose, it is often not work at all.


If you want to learn more about the Making History Project, go ahead and check out this article from the Florida Bar News.


Stay well,

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator


Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

meaningful mediation


#mediation #adr #disputeresolution #mediationtips

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Updated: Dec 9, 2021

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.


Universal 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.


The Takeaway


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.


If you are interested in learning more about mediation and negotiation strategies, please be sure to check out this site's Resources page.


Stay well,

Patrick Russell

Miami Florida Mediator


Meaningful Mediation is Ethical, Mindful, and Strategic

meaningful mediation


#mediation #adr #disputeresolution #mediationtips

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