This year, I am celebrating my ten year anniversary as a full time mediator. I have been doing it for approximately 14 years, but it was ten years ago that I chose to eliminate all other career paths and choose this one.

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with my law career and mediation career together and kept both options open. According to a recent article by Pyschology Today, it is possible I may not have done either very well.

Based on a 20 year study, Timothy Judge of Notre Dame concludes that the simple ability to “confidently choose one course of action while abandoning others” may be a key trait towards success. Most people lack the mental acuity and focus to close the door on projects that may detract from their goal.

The article cites three great examples. Steve Jobs who quit college to start Apple, and then later cut 70% of Apple’s product line to pave the way for success; Howard Schultz who saved Starbucks — a nearly dead coffee house — by eliminating most of its products and focusing solely on coffee; and Henry Ford who quit family farming to build the car and who stated “Be ready to revise any system, scrap any methods, abandon any theory if the success of the job demands it.”

The reality in the context of mediation is that in my opinion there are thousands of people who want to be mediators; but there are very few that are willing to scrap it all to succeed. My advice to budding mediators, attorneys, or any other profession: Jump in with both feet, the worst that can happen is that you get wet, but maybe, just maybe, you will start to swim.

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