Great wisdom lies in the awareness of the brevity and longevity of life. Most people understand that you cannot live forever. We even created a subculture around the phrase YOLO – you only live once.
We look at the brevity of life and determine that action must be inevitable. We are in a hurry and try to squeeze as much as possible into the short number of days we have left.
But at the same time, there is wisdom and understanding in life that you are likely to have more days than just tomorrow. Some things just take time, and the best step is to come here day in and day out with a focused effort. There is such a thing as a marathon mentality that implies delayed gratification.
This is especially true if you are keen to play what Simon Sinek calls The Infinite Game.
Sinek recently released a book under this title. In it, he understands why most businesses fail. He concludes that most of the time, the main reason entrepreneurs tend to lose is because they neglect endless play in favor of smaller, more limited games.
“According to a study by McKinsey, the average life span of a S&P 500 company has dropped over forty years since the 1950’s, from an average of sixty-one years to less than eighteen years today.”
Sinek notes that even if a company is successful from the start, entrepreneurs, on average, do not create long-term things. In today’s business world, the average life expectancy of a company has dropped significantly from 61 to less than 18 years. The bottom line is that more and more entrepreneurs are failing much faster than just a few decades ago.
If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to think about what your endless game is. You must be ready to think beyond the next quarter and start thinking about the next generation.
What is the Infinite Game?
Most entrepreneurs are addicted to end games, goals or objectives. After enough time, constant focus on the end game will overwhelm your creativity, lower your standards, and improve your winning mentality at all costs.
You must focus your mind on Infinite Game.
The Infinite game moves on the right cause. It is based on a mission statement that is more important than any person, any product, or even any single goal.
Sinek describes a just cause like this:
“A just cause is a specific vision of a future state that does not yet exist; a future state so appealing that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to help advance toward that vision.”
In the Infinite game, the entrepreneur finds the right cause and directs his life towards it. The entrepreneur should motivate his team, design the products, and create a long-term arc around a vision that serves people in a tangible and concrete way.
Unless you have this good reason, you will sooner or later find yourself in the end game again. Having a good reason can help an entrepreneur make decisions, realizing that he is not working for a certain title, position, a certain rate of return, or a certain stock price.
If you need proof of how failure to define your just cause can derail an entrepreneur, remember one of the most entrepreneurial organizations of the last century – NASA.
In the early 1960s, NASA set a goal to get to the moon before the late 60s. As daring as this goal was, it was just a goal. It was not right.
Everyone knows that NASA ended up sending a man to the moon in 1969. They achieved their goal, but failed to prepare for a lasting impact on generations.It causes their slow decline over the past five decades, ending with the closure of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
Build your Disneyland
Once you have a just cause and want to build your entire enterprise around it, there are some tough decisions to make.
Building your business around your just cause means you need to value people over your bottom line. This means that you work hard to create an environment in which you can “feel inspired every morning, safe when you are at work and fulfilled at the end of each day.”
This is the mentality of someone who plays an Infinite game.
To be infinite, entrepreneurs must be ready to look beyond their circumstances into the unknown.
Being busy with what you are good at but not serving your right cause does not count as success. This is passivity. You can be great, but it does not mean alive. You can be rich and unhappy.
Take Walt Disney, for example.
Sinek notes that Disney had a good reason to inspire people with creative storytelling. He was the pioneer of some of the most successful and stunning achievements in film. But in the early 1950s, Disney was running a very successful studio company, and he felt he was slipping away from his just cause. They leaned more towards the end game than towards infinity.
So he almost completely switched gears. He began to create a new vision of a gorgeous theme park with a storyline. In 1954 he opened Disneyland in California.
Many believe that Disney today is the epitome of a successful entrepreneur shaping the industry. But even fewer people know how Disney reached this titanic level. He did this by playing the Infinite Game.
Discovering your Infinite Game
When I read Sinek’s book, I realized that I was personally heading into the swamp of the end games. Professionally, I focused my career growth towards achieving a certain title. In my personal entrepreneurial endeavors, I began to allow metrics and financial results to creep into my vision and path forward.
I needed to go back to defining my just cause. I needed to immerse myself in the endless game that I was playing. To do this, I asked myself the following questions:
1.What do I want to be for? What am I optimistic about in the future?
2.Who or what people would I like to be involved in business with in twenty years? Does my vision of these people take into account?
3. How can I match my skills with material needs?
4. Is my vision stable or is it affected by premature circumstances or the environment (can it be easily changed?)
5. Will I ever really be able to realize this vision on my own? If so, I need to think bigger.
But most importantly, I asked myself this question:
Is my vision able to be carried beyond me to the next generation?
When we get addicted to end games, we become shortsighted. We begin to lose the ability to prioritize and look beyond immediate impact. This is when most entrepreneurs start to fail.
At the end of his book, Sinek writes: “none of us want on our tombstones the last balance in our bank account.” I believe he is right. I believe we really want to know that our years on Earth matter.
As an entrepreneur,it is natural to want your hyphen to matter. The hyphen is the only symbol that is located between the year of your birth and the year of your death.
If you are playing the Infinite Game, your hyphen will be associated with someone else. With many other people. And your legacy will go far beyond you. It is in these connections that you will find the greatest examples of success.
Based on article on The Asian Entrepreneur.