Are You Playing the Infinite Game?

Are You Playing the Infinite Game?

Have you ever found yourself fighting a losing battle? I have, many times! Here are three questions I've found most useful in situations like that:

1: Am I fighting the right battle?

I try to imagine myself as a Professional Warrior. Then I try to remember this: a Professional Warrior wins the larger war because he only fights battles that are worth the cost. An Amateur Warrior loses the larger war because he fights every battle, regardless of the cost.

2: What would happen if I stopped fighting this particular battle?

I've found that in some cases, I could free up a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources by switching gears and disengaging from certain losing battles. I could either take a break and revisit them at a later time, or I could simply let go of my desire to win that particular battle in favor of winning the larger war.

3: How can I play the "infinite game" vs. the "finite game"?

In his book, Finite and Infinite Games, the late American academic and professor James Carse talks about a Finite Game as being one that has a defined ending, with clear winners and losers. The object of a Finite Game is to reach a specific goal: Victory in that particular Game. An Infinite Game, on the other hand, goes on indefinitely. The object is to simply keep playing. To stand the test of time. To get up and play again the next day. And the day after that.

An example of a Finite Game would be trying to win a sale or emerging victorious in an argument. An example of an Infinite Game would be growing an epic business over time, or living a well-lived life. Oftentimes in life and business, we get so caught up playing each Finite Game we encounter, that we lose sight of the Infinite Game.

As I see it, the object of leadership is to lead our team to Victory. Not in the sense of each little Finite Game we play. But in the larger sense of the Infinite Game. So here's my ridiculous question of the day:

What can you and your team do right now today to refocus on the Infinite Game?

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