I found the book “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek to be illuminating and interesting. Business is an infinite game. There are finite games in life like sports where there is a clear winner. However, for most of us normal folks’ life is an infinite game where there is no clear winner. At the end of our lives nobody will say he was a winner at life. The main premise of this book is most of business is an infinite game. Play the long game and out last the competition.
There are five ways to play the infinite game and here they are with my take on each.
First is to have a just cause – This is a cause bigger than just profits. If we have a just cause we will wake up without an alarm clock and will want to get going. This is like a mission statement but one that evokes the inspiration of the people. We can have a just cause for our personal lives as well as it increases meaning. Having a moon shot is not a just cause because once it is done it is over. In a finite game players keep playing even after the game stops because there is always a next game. In an infinite game the players may stop but the game continues in spite of any players being there.
Second is trusting teams – This is all about building psychological safety where everyone is encouraged even if they fail. Build small autonomous self-directed teams that can work independently in the pursuits of a just cause. As Kim Scott suggests in Radical Candor challenge directly and care personally.
Third is worthy rivals – For Simon Sinek it was Adam grant even though there are plenty of people who write but he always felt something if Adam did better than him. Once he saw him as a worthy rival he felt better than just thinking of him as a competitor. I take this to mean have an abundance mindset and there is plenty of room for everyone to succeed without it being a reflection on us. For Roger Federer the worthy rival is Rafael Nadal and he cannot always be comparing who is doing better. The only way he can be happy is to consider him as a worthy rival capable of beating him as well.
Fourth is existential flexibility – This is all about ignoring sink costs in my opinion and changing direction if you get additional information. For example, Steve Jobs made a pivot in his decision once he saw the GUI being developed at Xerox. He basically let’s blow up what we are doing before someone else does.
Fifth is have the courage to lead – This is all about withstanding to pressures from Wall Street or regulators and sticking to your Vision in the pursuit of a worthy cause. Don’t ever lose your ethics in the pursuit of profits. Courage is all about making the right decisions despite external pressures.
None of us can choose when we are born but once we are born we are players. Simon Sinek encourages us to play with an infinite mindset. I totally agree with that approach and it will also increase joy in our lives. Thanks for reading this post. I liked his other books Start with Why and Leaders eat Last as well.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.