The systems that drive our behavior are all wrong.
The forces that prepare us for the "real world" are leading us down the wrong path.
We are told that we need to do good in school and get better grades than the person next to us because it will open a door for us to get into a better University. Once we get to University we are told we again need to compete with individuals next to us so on our resume we will be offered the best job from a potential employer.
We are told we need to be number one.
We need to be number one in the academic rankings.
We need to be number one for our company.
We need to be the number one father or number one mother.
We need to be number one according to what metric?
Did we have the highest GPA or the most extracurricular activities?
Did we sell the most units of a said product or did we have the lowest churn rate from existing customers?
Did our children learn dinner table manners or do they have the most friends in their Kintergarden grade?
The way we measure our ability to be number one is arbitrary and bullshit. We cannot possibly measure up to an unequivocal number one ranking. The game we are playing doesn't align with those set of rules.
You can't win Life.
So what options then do we have in realizing and actualizing our full potential? Through Game Theory we can define the game we are playing and then offer up a playbook on how to take the necessary steps in achieving our greatness.
"the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers".
In Game Theory we have two sets of games:
Infinite Games- boundaries of a game are played with for the purpose of furthering the game.
Example: The Cold War. The USA and USSR were in a game that extended past any type of set boundary of how one could be a winner. They went on, over the years gathering resources and new strategy in attempts to outlast their competitor.
Finite Games- boundaries of a set game are established for one the purpose of winning the game.
Example: Football. A set of rules and boundaries are established in the game which offer up a clear distinction of how one person or team can win said game. You have the game and its specific point structure and a time limit of how long one can attempt to score the points.
In our modern day life we find ourselves striving to be great in some type of professional realm. We generally find ourselves in some type of business. It is the construct of how our society collects and gathers resources.
In business and life, it is impossible to win. I doesn't happen that way. You cannot win in life. You life is short. Life has existed long before you were around and will exist long after you're gone.
The same is true for business.
“The game of business is infinite. Most businesses are operating as if they’re in a finite game. They’re playing to ‘win.’” -Simon Sinek
You cannot win in business. There is no defined boundary and set of rules that sets you up for a finish line.
In life and in business, you are playing the Infinite Game.
In our lives, we are playing against ourselves.
“A finite player is trying to beat everyone else. An infinite player is trying to advance themselves.” -Simon Sinek
In the effort to be the best you you can be, it's imperative that you realize you are in a state of ever expanding your boundaries rather than trying to crush the person next to you.
You're up for an audition for a part in a new Network Television sitcom. Great. It isn't about beating out everyone for the part. It is about expanding your abilities and matching those to what the part is looking for.
You and a few members of your sales team are up for the promotion of sales manager position. Fantastic. How have you beefed up your knowledge and skills so you can be selected as the optimal candidate for the position?
Your biggest competitor just came out with a potentially industry changing device. Awesome. What core strengths drive your business so you can learn from this innovation and drudge forth through this industry changing moment?
When we play the infinite game, we need to understand that some days we will be behind and some days we will be ahead. It's not always about what the people around us are doing and how we can beat them.
We need to beat ourselves. We need to see what we are good and and help those strengths flourish. We need to identify our weaknesses and develop strategies to help minimize any setbacks.
Play the Infinite Game.
Keep expanding the boundaries.
The theories presented in this article have been adapted from and inspired by the work of Simon Sinek and his work on empowering people to love the work they do. More from his inspirational work can be seen here