‘[Y]ou define yourself not as a piece, nor as the strategist, but as the board itself, the framework for the game of life around you.’*
Beyond reacting, beyond even responding, we’re able to have a perspective on life which opens up the possibility of initiating. This is the infinite game** – a game we play for others.
The infinite game includes as many players for as long as possible and if these dynamics are threatened then the rules are changed. The infinite game player is content to dissolve into the background, knowing the infinite game makes it possible to do everything they love, making the game more open and inclusive.
The infinite player knows that in any game there’re multiple games being played. Peter Senge talks about how in any system there’s more than one loop at play. Most will see the reinforcing loop – the thing the business is about, but will fail to see the balancing loop – where the real problems are to be found, and also where the unseen or undervalued rules are found.^
Imagine these thoughts for the individual:
‘Before you can disrupt your product you have to disrupt your process.’^^
‘This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.’*^
‘Finding the time and the space to question, in a cultural landscape that doesn’t encourage it, is challenging.’^*
A synopsis of these might be: we need to look behind the scenes of our lives at our values, curiosities, talents, experiences, and passions; but we have a tendency to focus on the things we’re doing on the surface and resist going deeper; and, this is often reinforced by a culture that doesn’t value deep reflection, often being sceptical or reasoning that it’s too busy.
Malcolm Gladwell highlighted the critical element of 10,000 hours of deep practice for living a remarkable life.*** However, when we look closer what we see is how these 10,000 hours of practice are in relation to the obvious rules – Frans Johansson points out that the more rule-bound the game the more visible the benefits of the 10,000 hours are.^^^
When we’re prepared to focus on the balancing loop of our lives, we begin to see the invisible rules, that is, the interplay of deep practice around the things which make us essentially who we are – and the universe of possibility which emerges.
“I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”**^^
(*From Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility.)
(**See James case’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^See Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)
(^^From James McQuivey’s Digital Disruption.)
(*^From Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.)
(^*From Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)
(***See Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.)
(^^^See Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(**^^Parker Palmer, quoted in Henri Nouwen’s Discernment.)