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Begin With the End in Mind

Stephen Covey became famous twenty-five years ago for writing
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I recall hearing about this book a few years later during my first mediation training.

Habit No. 2 is to "Begin with the End in Mind." It is based on the simple principle that we need to set a goal before we start to take action on any project or endeavor. Covey even advocated applying it to the living of one’s entire life by first creating a personal mission statement and then striving to live with that statement in mind.

Mediation requires beginning with the end in mind, which should be a mutually acceptable compromise. Successful mediators begin with that end in mind, and the same is true of successful advocates. We do not approach a mediation with the attitude that we are just going to sit down and talk. We are planning to succeed.

Habits are formed over time through practice. Whether we are acting as the mediator or as a participant, we can form Habit No. 2 in each case that we handle by first reminding ourselves of what the goal is. Then we should ask ourselves: "Will what I am planning to do, or what I am doing right now, be more effective, or less effective, in reaching the end that I want?"

Not every case will settle, at least not on the first attempt. But if we fail, then it may be an opportunity for introspection. What went wrong? Did we not try hard enough? Or did we try too hard?
January is a good time to think back over our experiences from the year just ended and to reflect on what we might have done differently.

This year I have resolved to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of Stephen Covey’s book by reading it. I may even write a mission statement.

Wish me luck! And Happy New Year!


Michael P. Carbone

MICHAEL P. CARBONE is a senior mediator who has also served as an arbitrator and court-appointed referee. His dispute resolution practice has been built over a period of more than 25 years and covers a wide range of fields.   His exceptional combination of transactional and litigation experience enables him to handle complex litigation… MORE >

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