Why The Infinite Mindset Is Key To Business (& Life)
As the days and weeks within lockdown slowly accrue, what has been noticeable has been the change of tone and perspective of “how much longer this will go on”. Initially it was being taken in people’s strides - apparent from the long list of great things that have come from lockdown such as doing more exercise, spending more time with kids – one friend even commented on how they are saving 4 hours(!) each day from not having to commute.
With the uncertainty around the timing of the lifting and the method of easing the restrictions unknown - Has led to an atmosphere of businesses (and people) acting short term to make it through the day or the week.
‘The Infinite Game’ by Simon Sinek and ‘Finite & Infinite Games’ by James Garse both shine merit on having an Infinite Mindset and this is key strength for business and life.
In a Finite game there are known players, fixed rules, a clear end point and a clear winner (and a clear loser) – this description is true for the landscape of sports such as football, rugby etc.
In an Infinite game the players come and go, rules change, there is no end point and no winner – The object is to Keep Playing. Business and Life both come under this category.
There is no monopoly on which mindset you choose – however it will reflect in the thoughts, feelings and actions that are taken.
People having a Finite mindset in an Infinite game will lead to a need to showcase their winnings (think of it as those that have hoarded up on toilet roll, pasta and hand sanitiser).
They need to display the markers of winning they have accumulated so that other players know who they are. They will focus on the past and short term – as this is where their win is. The finite player will always find themselves in a quagmire, racing through the will and resources they need to stay in the game.
Infinite mindset empowered people in an infinite game do the opposite and look to the future – because they are on a journey. They focus less on what has happened and put all their energy to focus on setting themselves up for the longer term, for a landscape that is powerful enough to strive for – yet does not currently exist.
5 Elements of an Infinite mindset are:
1. Join a just cause - A cause so just that you would willingly sacrifice your interest to advance that cause.
2. Have trusting teams – To work with and for people such that we can raise our hands and say, “I made a mistake”
3. Have a worthy rival – To use the energy a competitor reveals in ourselves to self-improve and do better - constantly.
4. Capacity for existential flexibility - The capacity to make a dramatically huge strategic shift in an entirely new direction to advance the cause.
5. The courage to lead – To go against societal norms and other people’s views, taking that step forward when you can’t the entire path – Yet. That takes tremendous courage.
It could be deemed that the majority of businesses (and at times, we) are playing with a finite mindset. For example when the CFO is looking to meet the quarters numbers than use the training budget to invest in their employees.
Of course, the finite game still matters—making your end-of-the-year goal is important as a metric of speed and distance. But it’s not the end all, be all; we don’t have to beat ourselves up or fire people because they miss a number. That’s where we lose the concept of the infinite game. It’s one mile within a marathon, and this marathon never ends.
In essence, the ability to build and leave things in better shape than we found them – that inspires other people to want to continue to build them - is what it means to lead with an infinite mindset
Considering your position through this frame helps you determine if you are approaching choices with the right mindset to be successful at the kind of game you want to play.
Which mindset do you approach the game with, finite or infinite?