There are not many people who, at a young age, inform their parents that “I want to be a Dispute Resolver when I grow up”. You start somewhere else and then changes in your life lead you to consider a switch into arbitration or mediation. Something happens – you hear about the two processes or someone you know talks about their work or circumstances force you to re-think your way forward. Dispute Resolvers are not born – they emerge.
Life does it to us. It makes us think about our strengths and our weaknesses. Doors close and doors open and you look inward and begin to think “I can do it”. What you are today is an extension of how you have developed over time and skills occur to you that you did not think you possessed. We know about prodigies – genius will out whether it is on the piano, in mathematics or at the potters’ wheel. That is exceptional but we Dispute Resolvers are not exceptional or unique or stand out individuals. We, simply, take our accumulated experiences and graft on the essential qualities of an arbitrator or a mediator.
Top of the list is integrity. We have to know the difference between right and wrong. We see the wrong turnings and avoid them. When a challenge or a crisis confronts us we have the basic ethics and morality to do the right thing. We instinctively feel out of danger and know what to do. That is in our make up and is part of our DNA.
I emphasise this at top of the list. There are other indispensable skills that are required but first and foremost you have to be fair, balanced, reasonable, and alert and everything you do – everything you say or do or write or broadcast – has to be infused with good character. A mediator and an arbitrator have to have these stand out qualities so look at yourself and recognise your strengths and your weaknesses and work on improving the former and jettisoning the latter. It is not a one-off calling yourself to account – it is something you do all the time. Not in an intense obsessive continuous process – just take stock of what you are doing and what you have done and improve the positive and expel the negative.