A talented collaborative professional brings a remarkable understanding of the collaborative process and mindset to the table. He or she finds a way to communicate that to others, to his professional teammates as well as to the team’s clients. Moreover, as I learned in a mediation last Friday in which the wife had refused to sign the collaborative participation agreement, a creative collaborative professional (like the one this wife had retained) will bring her collaborative persona into the room even in the context of litigation.*
Ellen and I had exchanged voluntary discovery during the several months leading up to mediation. Our staffs had helped each other to accurately complete the clients’ financial affidavits. When we got to mediation, which we had scheduled as soon as we could, we told the mediator, a former judge, that we intended to start in the same room . . . and stay there.
And at mediation, we cross-talked; I talked directly to her client; she talked directly to mine.
Did I appreciate that? You bet! Did the mediator appreciate it? Of course, she did! Did the clients appreciate her approach? You know it!* Did she make me look good? Absolutely! Here’s one of the comments the husband (my client) later left for me on Google:
I would highly recommend Open Palm because of their processes and procedures to anyone looking for peace of mind and resolution to their marital affairs! Through it all I have learned what it means to be selfless, grateful, humble, and, most of all, what sacrifice truth looks like. This life-changing event has taught me many lessons about unconditional love and appreciation for what really matters in this world of material things, and it is life itself, good and bad.
The people at Open Palm live a servant lifestyle of helping and not hurting and for that I am grateful for their services!
Why does it seem that some people can make the collaborative paradigm shift, this more creative client-centric approach to resolving folks’ divorce issues, and some cannot? Why does it seem some people are more innovative than others, and some not at all?
Don’t believe it. We all hold the potential to create marvelous things. I see it every time I mentor a collaborative undertaking. It doesn’t take a whole lot to unlock the door — a few simple steps, some understanding of what this magic thing really is, permission to play and explore, a bit of fearlessness — and off the newly-trained collaborative team goes, sailing through the scintillating turquoise waters of inspiration and imagination.
So, what’s the trick? How do we transform from warrior knight to guardian counselor, from Lancelot to Merlin? How do we shift from trial lawyer, or marriage counselor, or financial expert to collaborative advisor?
The key to fulfilling this creative potential is in the doing . . . and doing so with an attentive and deliberative process.
The students and professionals I’ve counseled and mentored over the years have progressed the fastest when they are open enough to push into new, sometimes uncomfortable territory, even if they have no idea where they’re headed. But this creativity, this shift, always shows up as a willingness to do something different, to step away from what everyone else has been taught and believes is the “correct” way to do things.
A willingness to reject conformity and to embrace creativity.
We never know where we are going before we start, other than that the family needs to be restructured. The path reveals itself as the team moves forward. “The car goes where the eyes go.”* All you need to know is that you are right where you are supposed to be, and that you can get to wherever it is you want to go.
Learn to relax into being uncomfortable, which is both daunting and exciting. Go back to being comfortable with creative problem-solving; after all, it came naturally to you back in kindergarten! This work takes courage, authenticity, faith, commitment, and a bit of soul-searching. That’s all you need to make the paradigm shift.
I would love to get your feedback on this, wherever you may be on your own collaborative journey. My thoughts are mine alone and others’ reactions and opinions are more than welcome.
This blog is dedicated to the amazing team that is doing the heavy lifting in a paternity matter I currently mentor, between two military personnel, pro bono. You know who you are!