When I was a kid I had no imaginary friends; I have an imagi-Nation. The Sovereign Duchy of Borgonnia. You see I was born in Tenerife but lived in Gran Canaria. So what, you say? So there is an unhealthy rivalry between the two islands. Living in Gran Canaria I was always the chicharrero (”fish eater”) and when I went to my grandparents’ island on Tenerife I was the gofión (”gofio eater”) or even the traitor.
So I developed a strong distrust for anything that sounds like nationalism of any kind. And, I grew up without roots, nation wise. Now you know why I had an imaginary nation. You can guess its drawbacks. Let me share its benefit.
I had my own parliament inside my head. (That sounds crazy, just hang on).
As a kid I imagined things based on what I really knew. So Borgonnia had its flag, national anthem, fantasy army, medals and a Parliament. On occasion I used that fantasy Parliament to make difficult decisions.
First I let the “President” present its proposal. So I detailed all the reasons why I had to do something.
Then I let the “Opposition” do the same. So I detailed what could be wrong with the proposals, if there was an alternative, and so on.
Third I let them both achieve an agreement, often improving the first proposal.
I never thought about sharing that little strategy of me, until I finished a book, one week ago.
Tony Buzan, in “The Power of Creative Intelligence” (affiliated link) describes a similar method: the Mastermind Group. There he asks you to choose a few geniuses and wise people to guide you. Remember the “What would Jesus do?” If you are an artist you could also think “What would Da Vinci do?” If you are a writer, maybe, “What would Shakespeare do?” Or maybe not.
Tony recommends you to choose your own guides, write them down, know them well and keep them handy. So you can consult them anytime I think.
Let me build on that.
You see in my method I had a virtual and faceless President and Opposition. Tony propose you to choose well known, to you, “gurus”. (Your wise granny is OK).
Now I propose you combine your method. Have your own little “Parliament” of advisers. If you are facing a hard situation let them “speak”, let them disagree and finally reach a new, improved proposal.
- Choose your two candidates for the virtual debate. If you are choosing some productivity method you could pitch Benjamin Franklin vs Thoerau, or David Allen vs Leo Babauta, that’s up to you.
- Draft what they would have said about the proposal. You can do it mentally or scribble a few notes.
- Is one proposal obviously better than the other? Then go for it.
- If not try to make them to reach some compromise.
- Still undecided? Ask real people.
It might seem a little complicated. It is, but:
a) It is meant for important decisions and projects, not to decide if you take a bus or walk.
b) At least one 11 years old kid was able to follow it. Guess who.