As human beings, we use to think and behave as we will live forever, the lives of our loved ones will never end, and everything that makes us strong, smart, agile, healthy, beautiful and so on — will stay with us. All true until some dramatic moment in our lives.
“The Circle of Debunking” exercise helps to challenge that filling of the eternal stability and immortality against the universe forces. We also use it in our Spectral Thinking practice to help workshop participants to get a personal perspective on mismatches we discuss.
Warning. The exercise is pretty simple, but it is also a kind of destructive and might make you feel really depressed (so be careful!), and also that filling of fragility doesn’t really inspire at first.
- Take a list of paper and a pen.
- Write down 4–5 personal attributes that make you unique or that are a core part of your character or personality.
- In 2 minutes per each attribute: write down some realistic events that might lead you to lose your abilities or will make them irrelevant or not so unique.
- Reflect on the events list. How your life would change if that really will happen? Are you able to prevent or mitigate them?
Template: Module H. The Circle of Debunking.
Group variation (recommended)
- Give a list of paper and a pen to each person.
- Ask everyone to write down 4–5 personal attributes that make them unique or that are a core part of their character or personality.
- Circle: pass the list with attributes to the next person, get a similar list from the previous one.
- In 3 minutes: each member of the group writes down the ideas for their current list, trying to write a least one event for each attribute. No event repeats are allowed.
- Repeat the process from step 3. Finish when you get your list back.
- Reflect on your events list. How your life would change if that really will happen? Are you able to prevent or mitigate them?
- I’m good at seeing the big picture [after processing a significant amount of information].
Event: there are narrow time constraints, that excludes processing all the information.
Outcome: the picture will be fragmented.
- I’m 2 meters tall in a country with 1.7m average.
Event: you broke your legs.
Outcome: you’re 1 meter tall for 2–3 months.
Event: you moved to a country of a tall nation like the Netherlands.
Outcome: I’m now like everyone around.
- I’m able to inspire and motivate people.
Event: you are now in a depression.
Outcome: no, you can’t.
Event: you failed people trust by doing something terrible.
Outcome: no one trusts you.
As I said above the exercise could be damaging, so it is critical to reflect on the results with humor, consider sarcasm, but still do it consciously. It is your life now you are a little bit more ready for whatever is coming in the future.
It is also possible to scale the exercise to a product, team, or company level. The approach is the same:
- Define, what makes it [product, team, company, etc.] unique, composes its character, distinguishes from the mass.
- Challenge yourself to write as many events as you can to break the status quo, unstabilize the system, prevent the attribute from manifestation and so on.