The 1978 Camp David retreat is an extraordinary example of the successful integration of coaching, mediation, and careful management of physical circumstances. From the severity of the challenges, the success of the event, and the sadness of later failures at resolution, principles of successful Mediative Coaching were revealed.
The stakes were high; repeated wars between Israel and Arab states, acts of terrorism, denials of Israel’s right to exist, and Arab civil liberties were persistent problems not resolved through “business as usual” diplomacy and avoidance. Parties continued to go their own way, settle for shallow relationships, and blur complexities with rhetoric. Physical isolation and commitment to mediation were the keys. Repeated shifts in internal operations kept things moving, as well as a variety of approaches within and outside traditional frameworks of advice, management and diplomacy. U.S. President Jimmy Carter was the mediator. Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat, the leaders of Israel and Egypt were the protagonists.
Fifteen Principles of Mediative Coaching
Principle 1: SHARED REALITY, UNCHARACTERISTIC STRATEGY, AND PERIODIC RESTRUCTURE.
Beginning with Sedat’s visit to Jerusalem and ending with a dramatic televised embrace, the Camp David Conference established some fundamental conditions for successful mediation in complex circumstances. A ‘Shared Reality’ was made the basis for planning and action. The parties came to appreciate that their reality was not the only one — things really were different according to where you sat. ‘Uncharacteristic Strategies’ for meeting, communicating, and bridging differences were made legitimate. ‘Periodic Restructure’ of ideas, groups, time, and physical setting kept energy levels high and focused both on the work to be done and the common humanity of the participants. These conditions helped get the job done at the conference.