Simon Sinek wrote one of the best business and life books called The Infinite Game in 2018 at a time where society had increasing problems from then President Donald Trump to an increase in isolation, mental health problems, poor workplaces, low engagement, lack of purpose, loneliness, and poor leadership at every level from government and business.
I think its worth it to revisit what Simon Sinek has to say especially in 2021 where we are seeing many of the same problems, fierce polarization, fierce partisanship, fierce tensions and where we are facing many existential problems apart from dealing with the economy to dealing with climate change, and cooperating on handling the coronavirus response properly, as well as how to navigate our new digital world without losing our connection and empathy to and for one another.
Simon Sinek summed up brilliantly in his book as he has done in several of his talks which he has given the reason for the types of breakdowns we are seeing in our society and the reasons why certain people can lead better than others. His most important principle in The Infinite Game is simple - having a Just Cause.
That’s right, simply asking “Why” and questioning more often than not why we make certain decisions and why we choose to do certain things is the most empowering principles. Thinking independently from first principles and questioning, asking why am I doing this, why am I joining this, why is this done this way, why is this other person making that decision. This type of thinking may seem annoying and time-consuming and can be in a world that is very hyper-paced, but it very liberating to do this in a world that is mostly filled with Finite Players playing Finite Games. People do need a sense of purpose, empowerment and belonging not just in their lives but in their work as well because work fills a large part of people’s lives and so the community is also critical because a good community with good leaders creates belonging.
“Human beings want to feel a part of something. We crave the feeling of belonging. We enjoy the feeling of being part of a group, like when we attend church, attend a parade or rally or wear the jersey of our favorite team when we attend a sports event. A Just Cause serves as an invitation to join others in advancing a cause bigger than ourselves. When the words of the Just Cause help us imagine a positive, specific, alternative vision of the future, it stirs something inside us that makes us want to raise our hand to join up and join in.” - Simon Sinek, Author of The Infinite Game
In a world of increasing short-termism, where more people want instant gratification, and where politicians and business leaders only look to the next election cycle or the next few business quarters, we stop focusing on the short-term sacrifices we really need to be making in order to have longer-term prosperity.
Finite Players playing Finite Games make the worst leaders in the type of environment we are living in today. Because there is no roadmap for the future based on what worked on the past. And in an environment of increasing polarization and uncertainty, the most important asset is the mindset that Infinite Players playing Infinite Games have. Finite Players are often out for blood and don’t like losing, but Infinite Players know that losing is just part of the Infinite Game.
Finite Players see the world with more blinders on and don’t open themselves up to others’ perspectives especially when they disagree while Infinite Players do open themselves up to others’ perspectives even if they disagree. Think about what more people playing life, business or whatever with an infinite mindset could do now more than ever to depolarize society and create more peace, happiness and abundance all-around.
Finite Players stop learning at a certain point and so stop playing properly, while Infinite Players are constantly learning and are always playing the game at the finest of their ability.
An Infinite Player doesn’t think in terms of business quarters, but thinks in terms of decades and much larger time horizons. These Players benefit both financially and emotionally because they make much better long-term decisions that compound greatly over time. They also learn from their mistakes and failures and get up much faster than their counterparts who are more sensitive to short-term shocks. “They have so much abundance of their resource — time — that they can recover from almost any mistake. The time billionaire is unshakeable in a sense.” - Anthony Pompliano
An Infinite Player also does not just want to beat the competition or elevate themselves at the expense of all others. Infinite Players want to elevate the game itself and all those around them whether potential teammates or competitors. Infinite Players also stay focused on the future but grounded in history. There is no roadmap for the future based on what worked in the past, however, there are always themes and principles and constants and we can look to history to draw certain parallels when we think about past leaders or when we think about entire civilizations.
The Infinite Game is about Competitive Cooperation and it is a game we must all play now more than ever and as we look to the future. It does not always have easy or straightforward questions or answers, but makes us think and dig a little deeper. Playing the Infinite Game and Becoming Infinite Players can only benefit all the participants who make, shape and play the game.