Last week, I attended an event in London to hear Simon Sinek speak about his new book that’s soon to be released – The Infinite Game.

He shared some fascinating insight into what it means to be a leader.  You can’t win the game of life or business, so they are infinite games.  Life existed before you and will exist after you have gone.  Business has lasted longer than companies and companies will collapse before business does.  So how do you stay in the game?

You have to play against yourself.  How do you be better this week than last week?  How do you improve your results this month versus last month?  It’s about the trends rather than the end results.  It doesn’t matter what others are doing.  As an infinite player, you understand that sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind.  The goal is to outlast the competition and over time, be ahead more often.

Being a Leader

I share this with you because you are always in some kind of leadership role – at work, amongst friends, as a parent. You have the ability to create whatever environment you want.  So how do you create an environment where everyone can work at their natural best?  How do you build a life for yourself that you want to live and have others want to live theirs too.  Here’s what Simon had to say:

  1. Identify your “just cause”. Knowing your just cause looks forward. What are you in this for? What is the future state you believe in that you’ll work tirelessly and sacrifice to obtain?  What do you stand for?  What will others stand beside you for?  What is your overriding vision for your life?
  2. Build trusting teams. Creating an environment where mistakes can be discussed, where retribution is unheard of, where there’s no fear of sharing what’s preventing you performing on any given day. Creating circles of safety allow people to thrive and deliver more than you could ever ask for.  Where this doesn’t exist you have lying, hiding and faking from people around you as they fear getting in trouble more than using their judgement.
  3. Have a worthy rival. Who around you is someone you want to be better than? Or who can do something better than you? Admire them, and wish them the best of luck and keep your focus on bettering yourself. You are only ever in competition with who you were yesterday. Be better today.
  4. Have capacity for existential flexibility. Dare to make the decision that will have people think you are crazy. Take risks because you know it will pay off. (e.g. George Eastman invented roll film photography.  It was too grainy/low quality for the professional photographers of 1885.  Instead of giving up, he decided to shift his idea to photography for the mass market and worked to develop a smaller camera that would use the film).  Life is an infinite game. Play it until you drop out.  Make sure you do it with existential flexibility so what you do will last longer than you will.
  5. Have the courage to lead. If you can’t manage any of the above, focus on being open minded. Consider that everything you know to be true might be false. Be brutally honest. Admit fallibility. You have to have the courage to make the decisions that forward your just cause, even when they are unpopular or uncomfortable.

You have the opportunity to create the kind of life (or workplace) you want. Do you do things for the greater good or in service of just you?  Do you choose people over profit when it comes down to it? Do you want to be part of an organisation that recognises you as a human being rather than a number on a payroll.  Isn’t this the kind of world we all want to be part of?

What’s Your Game?

So what do you need to do to love your life and friends, or your job and your colleagues more so we can all thrive? Are you willing to play the infinite game of life or business rather than the finite one of profits, results and margins?

If you want some support to help uncover you “just cause”, contact me and we can work on it together.

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