a thousand thanks
Thank you so much to everyone who’s picked up pocketconflictcoach in the first few days since it’s gone live. It’s been pretty crazy, and I’m only now beginning to get my head back on kilter as the dust settles on the launch of this first phase of the project.
It took me just over a year to write this course and to work out how to get the darned thing online. Now that it’s out there, I’m feeling pretty naked and exposed!
For those of you who’ve begun working your way through it (and yeah, it’s totally weird seeing all the progress bars in my admin section as I see you all meandering through the course!), I really hope that it’s beginning to hit home for you. Once you get to the end, let me know how you got on, how you think it could be improved, what else you think you’d like to see in the course. And remember, your help in developing the course like this into a truly helpful resource isn’t just for everyone else’s benefit. It’s not just about paying forward what you learn. Your lifetime access to the course means that with absolutely every update, you get to pour into it and carry on the learning. So yeah, if you have any ideas on fleshing it out more, please fire them my way!
And for those of you still skirting on whether or not to pick up pocketconflictcoach, feel free to tell me what’s causing you some pause, ask me what you’d like to know about the course that I’ve not mentioned so far. I’ve built it for anyone in conflict, but with a view also to helping mediators, lawyers, conflict interveners, anyone immersed in helping others seek resolution in conflict.
i’ve had enough!
It’s like, when I was beginning my career in law and then in mediation, if I’d known then the kind of information and techniques laid out in the course, I can pretty much guarantee that I’d have ended up helping more effectively all those who came to me over the years asking for answers and options. Every day now I feel this raw sense of guilt that if only back then I’d had the ability to handle things more deeply, been able to really get what it was within my clients that was making them rage and thump the table, maybe I would’ve been able to send them off into their lives way more empowered and settled.
And that’s why we do this, right?
I began this little Mediation In Your Pocket project because, after almost four decades in this broken world of conflict, I’d just had enough of folks telling others how to solve their problems. Lawyers, politicians, managers, administrators, teachers and more, their efforts intentionally or not leading to the construction or maintenance of walls between people and peace, to the perpetuation of all these heaving, adversarial systems of criminal, civil and administrative justice and government and education which, regretfully, shape our world but were designed without the knowledge and understanding we’ve evolved today about what makes us all tick.
I’d had enough of it, and I do to this day.
I live in the West, under a system of representative democracy. However you paint it, the colours of this system don’t mix well. Pour through the origins and actual motivations behind the Magna Carta, of the papers and minutes from the conventions that led to the US Constitution, these shining foundations of democracy praised so often to the rafters, but in which it was made perfectly clear by the barons and framers, in no uncertain terms, that the system in place must protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. Pour through that, and then think about conflict, about justice. Think about how our system of justice branched quite organically out from this foundation, how it grew roots so deep that it’s difficult now to imagine a world that looks differently.
And we know this.
We know our systems of justice don’t work. We pat ourselves on the back about democracy and freedom, about how we won the right to vote, yet every single day despite our innate human desire for love and peace we continue to see inequality, poverty, crime, war, terrorism, domestic violence, power imbalance. Every day we see our kids fighting in the streets, struggling to reach the social connection we implore them to find, as we try and get them to play nice, to get along with each other, and yet we fail to join the dots as we watch them age down the years and march tragically unprepared into others’ battles.
We may well have the right to vote, but it’s a vote within a system that was built explicitly to factionalise us, and which failed us a very long time ago.
And we know this.
Everywhere I turn I can see conflict. And I can see the world struggling with it. Kids in the playground, families, workers, communities, nations, we’re all immersed in this constant battle against each other. And yet, within each one of us there’s a brain at work. A brain that usually contains exactly the same mechanics as the brain of those with whom we’re in conflict. All those brains, therefore, working every day in the same way, every single one of them wired to protect its host from harm, from threats that as we know now it perceives inaccurately. Our brains will fire us up, dope us into battle, blind us from constructive engagement because that’s what our brains believe will keep us from dying.
And we know this.
We know that the future of the world, our very survival, depends on our ability to prove our brains wrong. We know that if only more of us could control more effectively our innate mechanisms of survival, the destiny of our race on this planet would glow brighter than ever before.
the change within
I’m just me though. I can’t change everything. So with this little project, I place my vote in you. My goal is to try and change the world one person at a time. I want to pay forward what I’ve discovered and empower folks to control their own destinies, to chart their own course through life and conflict, to feel less constrained or cajoled or trapped within institutional systems and societies that really don’t understand them.
I want you to read this and think a little bit differently about the conflicts you go on to face, about all those who come to you for help through conflict in the future. I want you to see the world more clearly as a space for opportunity, where interests might differ but in which, with the right support, the brains of every single person could be connected in unison for the benefit of all.
That support, that opportunity to change the world for the better, it lies within each one of us. And a decent starting point, therefore, is working out how to control our brains in conflict, how to seek out that connection. Because the more we connect with each other, the more arms we place around others’ shoulders, the more empowered we will be to survive and thrive and evolve past the constraints of our historical thinking and institutions and out into the infinite universe beyond.
So how much change do you have in your pocket?