February 8

James P. Carse, a professor of history and literature at New York University, once posited a theory about the nature of life. He said that there are two kinds of games we play, finite and infinite. Finite games are those with clear rules and timelines and defined winners and losers, like most sports or board games. You play a finite game to win a title.

Infinite games are those that are played simply for purposes of continuing the play. When more people are included in the game, it gets better for everyone involved. The goal is to keep the game going.

We can get caught up in the stress of finite games—winning a client, closing a deal, getting the next job—while losing sight of the infinite game we are actually playing. It’s possible to succeed your way into failure when you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Expand your perspective of what you’re actually doing rather than just focusing on the next client, the next paycheck, the next big win. What is the larger, more infinite game that you are actually playing in life and work?

Focus on playing the game that will go on infinitely rather than smaller, finite ones.

What is the infinite game you are playing?

Related Articles