You’ve been plugging away for a while now, as a mediator. The business isn’t flowing in. You feel like you’re in a dip. All factors considered, perhaps the way you describe your work role, or the way others see your professional title, is just not a motivator, for anybody? Perhaps you need a more compelling vision for what it is you do, and a title that goes along with it? One way to do that is to bring the future to the present.
The pull of the future
Charles Smith, in Navigating from the future advocates for imagining from the future to the present and using (your) compelling imagery to your advantage. The memory of the future can have as much power as memory of the past.
Smith’s book got me to thinking about a time, a few months ago, when I was in Port Hardy, a small community on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Sitting in a coffee shop, I picked up the local newspaper, and came across two related job ads. Here’s how those ads read:
- Roots Worker the Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre is seeking a roots worker to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of a child’s roots are forever program. Helping aboriginal children-in- care connect to their Aboriginal families and communities, culture and heritage, helping aboriginal communities in reconnecting and reclaiming their children an youth who are in the care of Ministry of Children and Families Services
- Connections Coordinator for Port Hardy Secondary School act as a liaison between school and home helping first nations students at risk.
What perked me up, on top of a coffee buzz, were the job titles. Addressing the challenges of Aboriginal dislocation in Canada is no mean feat. Somehow I’d rather see myself as a “roots worker” than a “child support worker”. I’d rather be a “connections coordinator” than a “school liaison officer”. It resonates with a bigger purpose, a better way. It has a future-pull orientation. It’s motivational.
What role(s) for the mediator?
In my own field of mediation, it’s easy to pigeon-hole oneself, as to what a mediator is or does. Is it just facilitating negotiations between parties in a dispute OR could it be anything to do with bridging differences, creative problem-solving, finding common ground, building consensus, reaching agreement..? If it’s the latter, the possibilities are almost infinite. The professional mediator brings so many attributes to the table.
My business card says I’m a mediator and a collaboration consultant. Collaboration is about people working together. So, as a collaboration consultant, I help people work better together. I also like to think I’m a resolutionary (a term coined from Stewart Levine in Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict into Collaboration); someone who gets things done, resolved. I’m working up the resolve to throw that one on my business card!
In blogger Penelope Trunk’s post today, she suggests that when the question What do you do? pops up, your best response should center around, Here’s what I’m passionately learning right now. That thought rings right for me. What I’m passionately learning now is how to be better at collaboration, resolving things through collaboration, and helping others do the same. Being a mediator of disputes is just one context where I see myself bringing people together, to build consensus, resolve things, and move forward in positive ways.
And you… if you are also in the mediation business, maybe you have a more impressive future-pull title for yourself? Maybe you are the Chief Mediation Officer?
Be motivated in your work. Your community needs you to be. How you see yourself matters. You have so much potential. The jobs of the future? Maybe. Look around. Free your imagination. I did here, inspired by a Margaret Atwood novel. So, without getting too crazy around job title …
Help me understand you
I’ve talked about ‘mediator’ in this post. That’s my title. It may not be yours. Either way… what is one future-oriented title that pulls you forward, in the work you are doing today?