Why you need to start playing infinite games
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Mindset is the most important factor in achieving goals and dreams.
It’s at the heart of your success. It’s at the heart of your ability to bounce back. It’s at the heart of your pursuit of constant growth.
It’s what will determine whether we’re among the best or the rest.
One of the most impactful mindset shifts is the transition away from being easily bored and playing finite games. Let’s unpack that a bit. When I say “easily bored,” I mean having no interest in mastering the fundamentals. And when I talk about playing finite games, I’m describing scenarios where there are designated players, designated rules and clear winners. Individuals with this mindset have no interest in games without an “end date” or a real winner.
But the combination of being committed to mastering the fundamentals while playing an infinite game—that’s a perspective that some of the most inspiring and influential people of all time have had. If you’re interested in creating a successful career, living a fulfilling life or achieving your goals, then you need to embrace both of these mindsets.
What goes into mastering fundamentals?
Master the fundamentals of your craft
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Most people are eager to learn about the latest trends. Most people are itching to become great at the newest thing. But the most successful people never skip the fundamentals of their craft. They start with the fundamentals and then build on top of that foundation.
In fitness, the fundamentals are consistently working out, eating clean and getting rest. That combination of fundamentals can help most people get in shape.
When you walk away from unnecessary details, you can focus on what matters most. In business, that’s often as simple as creating something people want and being able to sell it. If the market is healthy, then everything else is easy once you’ve mastered those fundamentals.
But most people aren’t interested in the fundamentals.
They don’t want to cold call a lead.
They don’t want to follow up.
They don’t want to ask for an intro.
They don’t want to do squats.
They don’t want to eat better.
They don’t want to do push-ups.
And because of this… most people will never achieve their full potential.
What does it mean to play infinite games?
The idea of infinite vs. finite games was made popular by James Carse. It’s the idea that some people are interested in playing a game they can win—it has rules, it has other players to compete with, and it has an end point. Other people are interested in playing a game with no rules, no finish line, no winners—the point is to just keep on playing.
It’s very likely that you’ve come across people playing finite games:
People who join a company solely for the salary.
People who strive to simply achieve a certain title in their career.
People who don’t care about their reputation—just hitting quota.
These are people playing finite games. They’re worried about their status compared to other players. They’re heavily focused on a certain outcome and not the long term.
Be a player of infinite games
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It’s also very likely that you’ve encountered or at least read about people who play infinite games:
People who build a reputation just by playing.
People who consistently add value without expectations.
People who are more inspired by an idea than an outcome.
These are individuals playing an infinite game. They keep playing not with the goal of winning but simply because they appreciate the journey.
Combining fundamentals & infinite games
When you combine these two mindsets, everything gets easier.
The fundamentals become easier because you start to appreciate the process of mastering them. The challenges you face along the way become less paralyzing because you’re simply enjoying the ride.
Is it always going to be easy to maintain this perspective? Of course not… But nothing worth having comes easy. So embrace it. Push through the struggle. And enjoy the game.