The game of business is infinite, with constantly changing rules and a mix of known and unknown players. We can’t change the game, but we can change the players. In fact, our only control in the infinite game is deciding how we want to play it.
Being an infinite leader is neither right nor wrong— it’s a choice, says Simon Sinek, leadership guru and optimist. When you decide to be an infinite player in the infinite game of business, you’re choosing trust, cooperation, innovation, and longevity, while a finite mindset comes at the cost of all these things.
While playing with an infinite mindset sounds like a no brainer, the road isn’t always smooth and successful. The goal of the infinite game is to outlast, and an infinite mindset requires patience, a long-term approach, and a conscious understanding of the larger picture. When planning for sustainability over a long period of time, you must expect to fail along the way, be less than the competition sometimes, and experience slow growth. Infinite leaders accept this journey because they know the goal isn’t to win, it’s to withstand.
Choosing to lead with an infinite mindset requires patience and understanding of how the infinite game of business works. If you’re in the game of business seeking to outlast others and outdo yourself, then you’ve come to the right place. According to Sinek, you’ll need five things to get started on your journey:
Your business needs to have a purpose for doing work other than making a profit. This purpose is known as a just cause and should be an ideal vision of what the future looks like. Your just cause is the reason you go to work and makes everything you do feel worth it. Through products or services, everything the company does and is should be pointed towards reaching its just cause.
Your just cause needs to be emotional, and hence money isn’t enough to qualify as a just cause. Employees need to feel so connected to the business’s cause that they’re willing to suffer for the higher purpose and vision. Without one, there’s no loyalty or motivation, let alone any reason to go the extra mile.
Trust in Teams
Creating an environment of trust in the workplace and through your relationships is another important aspect of leading with an infinite mindset. Without having trust in teams, people are more likely to walk on eggshells out of fear of doing something wrong and hurting their reputation or ability to be promoted in the future.
When team members feel they can trust their leaders, they’re more likely to admit mistakes, ask questions, and take risks. You can’t force people to trust you, but you can create a setting in which they feel comfortable enough to show vulnerability and find safety in you.
One of the best sources of motivation is a worthy rival. While comparison and obsession with the competition isn’t a major aspect of the infinite game, using other companies or individuals as a means to understand yourself better is a powerful tool.
Worthy rivals should be used as a source of admiration and information to help fuel your own fire and propel you further into competition with yourself. According to Sinek, admiring our rivals can reveal a lot of our own insecurities. Quite often, our rival’s strengths are our weaknesses.
No matter how planned or how far along you are in a business model, infinite leaders must have the flexibility to change the path at any point if it will better propel the project. You must always stay open to and aware of new methods of attack and be ready to de-invest from the previous plan.
Sinek urges companies to play an aggressive role and set the tone for your company’s path in the market, otherwise the market will do it for you and you’re left playing a defensive game. Making big changes may initiate a short-term loss, but it will keep you in the game for the long haul.
Courage to Lead
The objective of the infinite game is to keep playing and outlast others, meaning that leading with an infinite mindset requires the courage to lead for the long-term. Leadership, in this way, becomes a lifestyle. The more goals we reach, the more motivated we are to keep leading and impacting others and the world around us.
The infinite game is, well, infinite. The long-term nature of the game may sound daunting and overwhelming, but each change and uncertainty along the way is a new opportunity to grow ourselves and create innovation in our field.
The only way to play and dominate the infinite game is with an infinite mindset. For more help creating your just cause, building trust, and practicing flexibility, see how Knowted’s coaching services can help you.