HIT Piece 9.27.2016

Conflict is the process of change.

No great change—not one—happens without conflict.

The key is not to fear conflict (which many of us do) but to manage it.

Many people are afraid in times of great change because they aren’t offered a vision for what the change will bring, nor are they offered the courage to look the change in the eye.

The role of statesmen, leaders, and even executives used to be to provide assurances to the masses of people that the conflict would be manageable, that the outcomes (or changes) would be beneficial, and that the future would be positive.

Those roles stand empty now, and thus it is up to us to choose individually: A past state of supposed peace we cannot return to, or a future state that we need courage, clarity, and candor to get to.

There are no more statesmen and leaders “over there” anymore.

Which is good.

Because, they’re right here.

[Advice] On Influencers

Influential personalities and brands online are about to become even more influential as the years go by.

And mediators, lawyers, and negotiators should take note.

Influencer advertising is tricky to navigate, whether you are trying to partner with the peacebuilding neighborhood association with a vibrant Facebook community or the pop singer Rhianna.

Influencer marketing is only going to grow larger in the coming year for the very same reasons that social media is influential now: Individuals trust other individuals more than they trust brands. In the field of mediation and peacebuilding, where trust is a huge deal, influencers and thought leaders such as Bernard Mayer and Kenneth Cloke bring their substantial influence to academic programs, academic writing, advocacy and other areas.

However, as the influence of those individuals begins to fade, a new generation of influencers is rising in the ranks of mediation and peacebuilding professionals, such as Patricia Porter, Brad Heckman, Cinnie Noble, and others who have begun to leverage social tools and the wide reach of the Internet to make a dent in the peace building universe.

For the ADR professional with limited resources to be able to connect with larger names in the peacebuilding world, there are a few things to remember when considering using influencers to advertise your content, your services, your philosophy, or your processes:

Does the influencer’s brand link well with my brand promise?

Carefully considering how an influencer’s brand (which may range from Bernard Mayer all the way to Kim Kardashian) complements the strengths and reduces the weaknesses of the peacebuilder’s brand promise is key to developing a long term relationship with the influencer. Influencers are people first and foremost, and peacebuilding professionals should be about building that relational knowledge ahead of jumping into a branded relationship.

Is the influencer’s audience an audience that I want to be addressing as a peace builder?

Depending upon who the influencer’s audience is (and audiences range in taste and structure from the 1,000 followers the neighborhood peace builder has on her Facebook page, all the way to the millions of fans and followers Jon Stewart has) the peace builder has to decide carefully if that is an audience worth talking to. The fact of the matter is, every audience that a brand influencer has is not appropriate for a peace builder to talk to, nor is every audience open to hearing a message about peace.

Does the influencer’s message help or harm my message?

Every influencer talks to their audience in their own way, using words, images, symbols, and other forms of social cuing that inexorably tie that audience to them.

Some influencers are less savvy than others, but that does not mean that they aren’t sophisticated communications professionals in their own right.


[Opinion] The Promise of the Computer Leaves Some People Behind

Access to the means of production in an increasingly computerized global economy is THE social justice issue of our time if indeed the computers ate—and will continue to eat—all of our jobs.

There is an issue with the fact that rural areas in the United States (and worldwide) have limited access to the wonders of the Internet and computer based development, because of the fact that their geographical location is not urban.

There is an issue with the fact that a student who would love to move back to their hometown of 20,000 people can’t because the computerized opportunities they were trained to take advantage of, don’t exist in rural areas.

There is an issue when the only response from the increasingly dense urban populations to the increasingly sparse rural populations is “Well…move to the city.” Or even worse “Well, you chose to live in the country.”

Yes, people have a right to move around and live where they can, and they have a right to experience the consequences that come from making those decisions. The most iconic image of post-modern film history is that one outside the window of Deckard’s car in Bladerunner as he escapes the populated, polluted, oppressive—but full of opportunity—city, to go live in the vast, open, country. It is telling that fiction gets this dichotomy righter than lived fact.

Considerations of access, of course bring to mind the question of who will pay for such changes? The choices before us are either hard, difficult, and without obvious answers as to the outcomes of any of them:

The fact of the matter is, Universal Basic Income to everyone is not economically feasible in a country of 320 million individualists.

More calls for higher tax rates will only economically stifle entrepreneurship and further the gap emotionally between the “haves” in the city and the “have-nots” in the rural areas.

So, if we really believe that the role of government is to be a safety net, then what greater net should government be providing, than the net of advocacy, pressure, and even protection around access to the computerized means of production, via high speed cable that goes past “the last mile”?

If we don’t believe that such advocacy and protection is the work of good government, then the truly fortunate few should be creating businesses, entrepreneurial opportunities, and using every means at their creative disposal to make sure that the rural populations—which are increasingly poor, increasingly white, and increasingly politically hostile to the new order of computers because they are finally experiencing the end of the Industrial era—have the means to make a living.

And another app for doing something that our mothers used to do, won’t really bring that kind of meaning through job growth to those rural populations. Nor will it bring anything but pennies in the form of “sharing” or “gig” economic structures that cannot support the needs of children, families, or communities where education levels are low, and hope is fleeting.

If we believe that education is way out, and that not increasing access, but that instead increasing skills, e.g. teaching everyone to code, is the way to go, then we need to reform the education system from K-12 in truly, deeply, profoundly, radical ways.

And the enterprising few need to leave the cities, head to the country, and be prepared to really dig in for ten to twenty years into reforming an educational system that is simultaneously perceived as the “only place to get a good job” and also seen as “the last best hope for our children.” And the enterprising few must do it while also showing a modest profit.

However, we do have another, more comfortable choice: We can collectively decide that the rural areas don’t matter. That geography is a state of mind rather than a physical place. We can decide that “those country people” are irrelevant. We can decide that the urban poor need and deserve more attention than the seemingly spread out rural poor. We can decide—when we look at all—to continue to use the language of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century to try to resolve and acutely 21st century problem.

We can make such decisions and continue to support policies, and politicians, of all stripes who engage in such decision making.

And all the reformation of education, the gradual migration toward denser and denser urban areas (and the concomitant spread of those areas outward), and the increase in computerization and automation, is guaranteed to lead to more cries of income inequality, racism, sexism, and calls for the acquisition of capital to made harder for the fortunate few, rather than easier.

Which will create more conflict, not less.

[Opinion] Integrating the Path to Peace in Your Life

There is knowing the path toward peace, and there is having the courage to follow the path.

Many people know what they ought to do (or should do) but refuse to do it, mostly due to the influence of fears.

Many people know what they ought to do (or should do) and accept that doing it will be a struggle, full of moments designed to grow a person spiritually, emotionally, and psychically.

Both of these stories (and that’s what they really are) are designed to be true but not decisive. They are designed to be stories that push others towards the path of peace, while also courageously allowing ourselves a pass from the courage to make difficult decisions. They are designed to be stories that exemplify the dictum that “the high grass gets cut down” without the commensurate application of what a principled decision would look like in reality.

The path to peace must be forged with courage, and individual decisions, rather than with desires, hand wringing, pomp, or outrageous circumstance. The path to peace must be integrated within an overall vision of ourselves and what our futures hold along the path. Otherwise, the only principle worthy of discussion will be had along the path through the process of conflict.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

HIT Piece 03.29.2016

If Bob feels as though he got screwed in his last mediation session out of assets like a boat or a pile of money, his world view of the mediation process is different than that of his ex-wife.

If Ann sees her job I’m human resources as determining policy and keeping people in line, she’s going to take a different view of conflict management training than Jill who sees her job as being an agent of change in the organization.

If Dave sees his role at church as being a person who keeps the boat from tipping over rather than as a person who is there to lead a flock to Christ, his approach to internal church conflict is going to be different than that of Melinda’s, who sees her role in the church as a Deacon, as one who is there to lead people to a relationship rather than through religion.

Worldviews of your clients around conflict–and the processes of getting to resolution–matter more than your worldview does. And if you haven’t bothered to explore their worldviews as you champion peace, then all your selling peacemaking as a place of transformation, facilitation, or even evaluation won’t matter a hill of beans.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Becoming A Romans 12 Peace Builder

Intentionally renewing your mind is the only way to long-term peace.

There are short-term strategies, of course, such as active listening, improving your body language, and thinking of the other party first.

But not playing the long game and struggling with why playing the long game is important to developing a conflict minimized life, is something that many people struggle with, and ultimately may never achieve.

A lady in a workshop said to another participant once that “Renewing your mind seems a lot like therapy. But for yourself, not for other people.”

She’s right.

Therapy for yourself is the hardest because it requires you to be intentional and to engage in the renewing of your mind as an active act, rather than a passive wish that other people would just do better.

This is even more critical if you’re a peace builder. The constant state of renewal and refreshing, and placing yourself intentionally in situations, trainings, and places of development that will stretch and test your comfort and competency, is critical to peace builder success.

And in a world of clients comfortable with “the way things are” before pushing them to renew their minds, we must be frontloading the constant hard work of renewing our own.

I know that I am.

H/T Romans 12:2

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Podcast] 3 Reasons the Future Won’t Be the Same as Now – The Earbud_U Minute

Nostalgia for the future is a terrible thing. As a matter of fact, we have heard recently that nostalgia for the past might be poison.

Human beings, without much great reluctance, tend to romanticize the past, and believe that the future will be exactly the same. Only slightly cooler.

However, three facts mitigate against this view:

  • Peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s the management of change.
  • The “good old days” were just as filled with uncertainty, suspicion, anxiety, awe, nostalgia (both forward and rear facing) as the current time is.
  • The same conflicts that occurred in the past, will continue to occur both now and in the future, but the impacts of those conflicts will seem faster and more immediate.

Case in point for all of this is the recent 75th anniversary commentary around the 1964 World’s Fair. None of the changes that we currently take for granted were even thought of then.

Or, to make it even more bald: We are currently living in the future that Blade Runner promised us, just without it raining all the time and us all wearing the same drab outfits.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Podcast] Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow – The Earbud_U Minute

The King James Bible explains Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:14 this way:

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Modern translations of the Bible have changed the word “pricks” to “goads.” But the meaning—that it is unwise to rebel against authority, particularly Heavenly authority— resonated deeply for the Apostle Paul’s audience in the court of King Agrippa when he was explaining his conversion from Judaism to Christianity.

In addition to the spiritual point, the idea that people (as well as bovines) have to be pricked to alter their course and change their ways is as old as time. Or, at least as old as the Greek proverb from which the wording of the proverb originates.

People in conflict sometimes enjoy the outcomes that they experience through engaging, or avoiding, or accommodating, the conflicts endemic in their lives. When a difficulty arises in an individual’s work or family life, people respond in ways familiar to them and others, following established patterns and mouthing lines in a script written long ago and repeated so often, that it’s not new to anyone involved. When a disagreement between two people happens, they both respond in ways that are “baked in” to their biology and psychology—and then they wonder silently why the outcomes are similar all the time.

American culture celebrates a rebellious spirit. After all, the Founding Fathers rebelled, and all the way from then until now, rebellion, rioting, “speaking truth to power,” and all of the other iterations and manifestations of refusing to go along with any authority have been lauded and honored in American culture.

This is not a recent development. Marketers, novelists, and filmmakers (nonconformists all) were the people who created the image and mass marketed the message that sameness, uniformity and conformity was a negative rather than a positive.

But, think back to the beginning words of the proverb “It IS HARD for thee to kick…”

Rebellion leads to conflicts, wars, and disruptions as power structures at cultural, societal and even familial levels are overturned and democratized. But once the flame of rebellion is lit and stoked, it swells to a brush fire that consumes everything in its path—and its wake. We recall the legend of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

For peace builders, rebellion begins with questioning the underlying assumptions that society has around peace, conflict, resolution, and reconciliation.

But it IS hard to manage, mediate, negotiate and facilitate the fires of rebellion, once they are lit. Saul turned Paul realized this. So did King Agrippa. And we would be wise to recall the deeper meanings and consider the hard ramifications of the old lesson, in our modern, fractious times, as well.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Podcast] Earbud_U Episode #3 – Brad Heckman

[Podcast] Earbud_U Episode #3 – Brad Heckman, CEO New York Peace Institute, Twitter Guerrilla, Blogger

[Podcast] Earbud_U- Episode #3-Brad Heckman


This is not your typical podcast around conflict resolution and peace building, but my background is as a divorce and family mediator.

As such, I am fascinated by people who do this work, but I am also interested in how all of this intersects with entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Just as hard as building peace between people.

Brad Heckman, the CEO of the New York Peace Institute, is doing great work in combining the two together and my talk with him was unique.

We focused on a lot of areas, but the big thing that we focused on was his background, perspective and approach to peace.

Look, the New York Peace Institute and Brad Heckman are doing great stuff in the marketing space as well and is expanding his footprint all over the Interwebs, including Twitter, where he is a grandmaster of Tweeting.

Check out the links below and look into his work.

The New York Peace Institute: http://nypeace.org/

Brad on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hecksign

NYPI on Twitter: https://twitter.com/newyorkpeace

Brad’s Blog, The Hecklist: http://thehecklist.wordpress.com/

Check out Brad’s Interview on Soundcloud here–>http://www.soundcloud.com/jesan-sorrells/episode-3-brad-heckman-final

Download the Latest Episode of Earbud_U!

[Advice] The Hard Thing About Now Its Too Late

The savvy peace builder is either all in—or not.


But, at a certain point, financial realities take over and the rent must be paid, or the electric bill, and the savvy peace builder must make the choice to make making peace a side hustle.

Now, typically the word hustle comes with negative connotations, but mostly it should be associated with little sleep and much success.

But, when the main work (the 40 hour grind) takes over more and more time and energy from the hustle that matters (the peacemaking pursuit) the savvy peace builder will sometimes kill the side hustle by dividing time away from it even further.

This is how many entrepreneurial ventures end, dissected and subdivided under the scalpel of the 40 to 60 hour work week and the “sure” thing that brings security, a steady paycheck and fewer uncomfortable conversations with spouses and children.

The tough decision—the hard thing about this hard thing—is that diversification of focus and talents leads to more work not less; but making the decision to keep it to one-and-a-half hustles makes all the difference between “man I’m glad I lost sleep to build this project” and “man, I wish I’d taken the time when I had it to build this project. But now it’s too late.”

Now, it’s too late.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/