Heaven and Hell: A Thought Experiment
Updated: Jan 20
Helping teams have fun being successful is part of my day job. It seems to me that so many people have had to suppress who they are to fit in with the dominant narrative at work. To me, it’s obvious that smothering people’s differences, and ultimately their creativity, for the comfort of a dominant point of view is not the path to a happy or innovative workplace.
Over the years, I’ve developed a series of guided thought experiments that I have used to help teams start thinking about their path and to tap into their collective and individual creativity.
I thought I’d adapt one of those exercises so that you can do it at home. I call it the Heaven and Hell thought experiment. To do the whole experiment takes around 1 hour, but you can split each page into 20 minute sections. This experiment will guide you through some thought processes to help you think about your life. I can't promise you answers or solutions but I always think it's worth spending sometime thinking about your path. I hope you enjoy it.
Step 1: You
Print out the picture below. Then spend 10 minutes thinking about your life so that you can fill in the sheet below.
Take 10 minutes to think about what you've written. While you are thinking, ask yourself some questions. Are these moments positive or negative? Have they had a lasting impact on you and the people you love? When did they occur - was it more recently or further in the past? Are these moments personal or professional, solitary or social?
Step 2: Heaven and Hell
Print out the picture below and spend the next 15 minutes thinking about what your life as heaven and hell would look like to you. When I do this section with companies, I ask the teams to think about heaven/hell in the context of their team and company (otherwise almost everyone would say having so much money they don't have to work at the company at all 🙄).
So I think I'll ask you to think about heaven in the context of your life as it is now. Take it as read that heaven would include no pandemic! Once you've thought about what would constitute your heaven and hell, write a bullet summary in each appropriate box.
Step 3. Your path
Now that you've had a chance to think about your heaven and hell, spend the next 20 minutes filling out the sheet below. Spent 10 minutes making 10 consecutive steps to heaven and 10 minutes making 10 consecutive steps to hell.
Once you've filled in this sheet, take a moment to think about what you've written. Are the steps to heaven/hell ridiculously improbable or are they possible? What kind of work is required to get to heaven? What kind of work is required to get to hell? Is it easier to get to heaven or hell? Is the first step to heaven reasonable doable in the next month? Is there anything you can do to avoid the first step to hell?
I hope you've enjoyed doing the experiment. Perhaps it will be the start of your taking some time for yourself every now to pause and reassess. If you want to let me know how you went, you can send me a tweet @Cflutsch.
All the best
The Heaven and Hell thought experiment is provided for personal use only. If you want to use this as a personal/professional development tool in your organisation, then you will need to contact Catherine.Flutsch@quaere.org.uk for permission.