John Hardy


My job is to get to know you, then work together with you to craft a good outcome.The outcome, itself, is up to you. I mean, I believe that your mediation can be a jumping-off point for you to absolutely love the rest of your life, but living that best life is a long-term commitment, and you won't need me for that. By the way, some people come to this place exhausted, and if that's you, it's fine to just put your head down and trudge through it, too. I can help you trudge through it.

Either way, mediation is an opportunity to scrutinize your own life, where you're falling short of your own intentions, and what might work better. And whether or not you've been struggling lately, we can take the time together to prepare for the present and the future. This is only possible, of course, if you are honest. If you lay it all out on the table, we can step back and consider the whole picture. So it's important to be honest with yourself about your wants and needs and where you came from. Then we can work on planning to meet your needs and more. The more you prepare for mediation, the more likely you are to have a good experience and a good outcome.


You may be feeling trauma right now, sitting in the feelings, in some way or another. Me too, fairly often. Sometimes it's pretty tame, and sometimes it knocks me off my feet, but I know that place just like anybody. Maybe you're still feeling the lingering tension from that jerk on the freeway, or maybe a loved one is sick at home, but most likely, if you're here at Goldfinch, you're somewhere along the line in a divorce or a break-up with kids. Maybe you're in the middle of a case, or maybe you're just thinking about leaving. Whether it's the fear of the unknown in your divorce, the trauma of a toxic relationship you may still be in, or the subtle discomfort of “maybe I should stick with it . . .,” take a breath. (Really, I want you to take three. Breathe in deep, and don't just exhale . . . sigh it out. Relax, but use your vocal cords. Take your time. Two more. Look away from your monitor until you're ready, then come back. One more. In. Out. Take your time.)


Healing trauma is critical work. It's life-changing. I consider it my actual job description. On the surface, I help people figure out who gets Spring Break in the odd years and whether to sell the house or what to do, but, of course, that's not my job. Dividing up days on a calendar is an elementary task that adults do not need help with. In fact, you already know all this stuff! I'm not the one who knows Susie has dance on Thursdays or when you work a double shift. People have to tell me all that stuff, and only you know that stuff. You don't need help with that or you would have done it by yourselves.The hard part is letting go. 


That's what people need help with, and that's why I say my job is to help people heal trauma. Maybe it's letting go of the fight. Maybe it's letting go of Wednesday night. Or maybe it's letting go of control. Maybeit's letting go of the idea that someone else always tells me what I want and, dammit, I'm sticking up for myself, for once.It can be clumsy, ugly, and sad. Sometimes downright awful. And still, we go there. We have a job to do, and there is sunlight on the other side. This process is very difficult, and there is a cost to the process. One of the best ways I provide value to people is in resolution. Let's rip off the band-aid. The longer we sit in the process, the longer we suffer, and the longer we delay the rest of our lives. If you're ready to move on, let's dig it all up. Let us go into the darkness, and let us ask ourselves what we need. What do you want, and what do you need? What do your kids need? What about others, are there other people involved with critical needs, as well? These are the essential questions I bring to your mediation. Of course, I don't have the answers. It's not my life; it's yours! I'm the guy with all the right questions.


I opened with an aspiration. I work toward good outcomes. Let's be more specific though, what exactly is a “good” outcome? It depends on who you ask, of course. Some people care most about money, and getting a good deal. Some people care most about emotions, and feeling good about things. Most people care about lots of things, so the specifics depend on the situation. For me, though, in general, I say a good outcome is one where the people involved are empowered to make their lives better. Not just feeling empowered, but being empowered. To me that means something specific, and it could include feeling good, but more importantly, it means you have a plan and you take action onit. If two parents make the perfect agreement at mediation, it's not a good outcome until they follow the plan and raise healthy children. But a perfect settlement agreement means nothing if you go back to your lives and fight about things until your kids turn 18. The best way to set the table for long-term good outcomes is to heal the conflicts now, so that after mediation, you can forget about being on opposite sides of a case and go back to being two parents, on the same team, working a plan that you made together, for the benefit of your kids.


By the way, a “good outcome” might not mean a settlement, just like “being empowered” might not mean a settlement. Maybe both sides come to mediation and the best outcome is they both know they tried to work it out. Maybe now, at least, they understand better what their deal-breakers are, and they can now go to court knowing they tried to settle. Maybe the parties agree on most of the issues, and after mediation they can go to court and tell the judge “We only need your help deciding who gets to keep the house,” for example. (Spoiler alert: if that's the only thing you're going to court over, I believe most judges would just order you to sell the house and split the money, and probably complain you wasted their time.) For the most part, of course, you know your life better than any judge ever will, and if you take an active role in making the plan, it is more likely to be a good fit. So, I generally find that mediated settlements do represent the best outcome for most situations, but I am more interested in empowering individuals than settling cases. 


I want both parties to show up prepared. I want both parties to already understand what they want, what they need, and what they can't live without. I can help people figure that out, but if we all show up with that work already done, I can dive right in and start to work magic. And I do believe in the magic of mediation. I believe that I can help you turn this trauma into an opportunity to heal. This is why Elena and I started Goldfinch. I want to give you the support you need to be able to launch into the rest of your life from this process and never look back. Poke around. Look at our Preparation Materials. We put a lot of focused time and energy into this project because it's important. Whether or not you mediate at Goldfinch, I hope for good outcomes for everyone in my community because when people heal, we all benefit.