Simon Sinek’s latest book, The Infinite Game, is about understanding the difference between the infinite mindset and the finite mindset. He recently did an interview with Brene Brown on her podcast, Dare to Lead. It is well worth the time to listen – in fact, I’ve listened to it twice.
Finite vs infinite game
A finite game has known players, fixed rules, and agreed-upon objectives. Baseball and football are good examples. There is a beginning, middle and end. If there is a winner, there has to be a loser.
An infinite game has known and unknown players, which means players can join whenever they want. The rules are changeable, making the objective to stay in the game. Examples of infinite games are global politics, business, healthcare and education. There is no winner.
When a business (which is an infinite game) plays with a finite mindset, the business is playing to win in a game that has no finish line. And there are predictable outcomes when this happens: there is a decrease in trust, a decrease in cooperation and a decrease in innovation.
Elements of an infinite game
Just cause – must be for something; affirmative & optimistic; inclusive, open to everyone to contribute; service-oriented; resilient; idealistic; and unachievable. The Just Cause is for the future and is subjective. You can have more than one Just Cause. And it must survive you.
Building trusting teams – The people around you must believe in the cause and carry it through. They want to advance the cause. As a leader, it is your responsibility to create and bring those people together to make it happen.
Worthy rival – In an infinite game, others in the game are rivals, not competition. Remember you are not playing to win. A rival reveal your weaknesses to you – and serve as the push to better yourself. Instead of competing with the rival, you celebrate their successes and may even partner with them to enhance the services you both provide.
Existential flexibility – This is a 180 degree shift necessary to advance your cause. Knowing your just cause and having trusting teams is necessary to be able to have an existential shift. Most leaders will not go through this.
Courage to lead – To accomplish the infinite game, you must have the courage to lead. It is an element of being able to do each of the previous components of the game. If you are not playing the game, you are not advancing or making progress.
This is not for someone who values ego over service to the work.
As an entrepreneur, you have to get used to the fact that the people you started the business with are not who you grow the business with.Dave Ramsey, via Simon Sinek
Life is not a solo sport
Faith is being on a team even when you don’t know who the players are. Sinek attributes this defintion of faith to a conversation with a gentleman who runs a company named Ecohouse in Chicago. I found this statement to be very meaningful give the state of the pandemic right now. We are all in this together – and together we can beat Covid.
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Dare to Lead, Brene Brown and Simon Sinek
- Competition or a worthy rival? Pursuit of Purpose episode
- Simon Sinek
- Mapping personal and professional success with Kristin Sherry
- Supporting employees with cancer with Kim Hamer
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