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86,400 SECONDS

by Phyllis Pollack

From the Blog of Phyllis G. Pollack.

Phyllis  Pollack

      During the recent High Holidays, I listened to a sermon by rabbinic intern Danny Berkeman. He posed the following scenario: each morning, each of us is given 86,400.00 dollars to do or not do with as we wish. It is totally and wholly in our discretion if and how we use this gift.

      Each evening, any amount still remaining is taken away from us so that at the end of the evening, we are left with zero dollars.

      The next morning, we are once again given 86,400.00 dollars to do or not do with as we wish, which will be taken away once again that evening so that we are left with zero dollars at day’s end. Day in and day out, this same scenario plays out.

       The 86,400 figure is actually the number of seconds we have in each day - 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours = 86,400. This is what our daily lives come down to. How we use them or not use them is up to us.

        Do we want to use these seconds in a manner that increases our stress levels by litigating cases and otherwise engaging in disputes that may well end in uncertain (and perhaps unhappy) outcomes. Often, the “victory” will be indecisive at best. The party, having had her day in court, will still feel empty and without vindication. Closure will still be missing.

         Or, do we want to use our 86,400 seconds for the more important things in life – such as family, friends and ourselves? To do this, we need to engage in alternative dispute resolution; to use a quick and efficient means of resolving matters that provides certainty in the outcome, vindication and closure. Without doubt, resolving matters through mediation reduces stress levels and more importantly, leads to clear and certain resolution. No one “wins,” no one “loses;” rather, it is a “win-win” outcome in which each party having participated in fashioning the outcome, has gained what is important to her. Everyone walks away satisfied.

         Through the use of mediation, a matter in which the litigation can take months (roughly 2,592,000 seconds per month) or years (roughly 31,536,000 seconds/yr) can be resolved in a matter of hours. (60 seconds x 60 minutes = 3,600 seconds x ____ hours = ?). Think about the number of seconds you save and can now use for what is important to you – your family, your friends and most importantly, yourself.

        While all of this may seem a bit light hearted or even facetious – it really is not. It is about not getting lost in the forest for the trees. At times – each of us get mired in stuff. When we do, we need to step back, remember that we have only 86,400 seconds that day and figure out how to use them. At the end of the day, the seconds will be taken from us. Clearly, in resolving disputes, mediation will not take nearly as many seconds as litigation.

         . . . Just something to think about


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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