Shall we win-win?

Whoever must play cannot play.*
(James Carse)

Where shall we go? is an invitation to infinite play, engaging both/all for as long as possible. Of course, it takes longer, that’s why we take shortcuts and play the win-lose game that in the end take longer.

Where shall we go? is an invitation to explore possibility together, not for one or other to have their agenda met. James Carse is right to say that if we’re forced to play then we’re not playing.** We’re doing something less.

Helping us to look inside of what is happening here, Carse writes about the difference between being touched and being moved, the former being win-win, the latter win-lose,

I am touched only if I respond from my own centre – that is, spontaneously, originally. But you do not touch me except from your own centre, out of your own genius.*

In order to understand this play between two or more people people then we must see that it comes from a deeper place. Theory U would understand this be more than opening the mind to one another but also opening the heart. Opening the mind will require us to move from judgement to openness, but this is only pre-play was far as an infinite game is concerned. Opening the heart involves moving from cynicism to compassion. If we are to play, all the players matter.

Touching is always reciprocal. You cannot touch me unless I touch you in response. The opposite of touching is moving.*

Our players are now moving towards generative play, in which something spontaneous and original – which neither have thought of and brought into the game – can happen. Ultimate win-win cannot be pre-meditated.

You move me by pressing me from without toward a place you have already foreseen and perhaps prepared. It is staged action that succeeds only if in moving me you remain unmoved yourself.*

Here one player has come with an agenda and had pressed this through without compromise. Win-lose. It may have occurred amicably but that is a shallow perspective. For one thing, the genius of the other has not been invited into play, and also, as Nassim Taleb points out:

People overvalue their knowledge and underestimate the probability of their being wrong.^

If this is the way we play some of the more important games in life, inhibiting everyone being able to bring their contribution, their genius, we all miss out in a world in which we have such massive and complex problems:

In no way is the source of genius external to itself; never is a child moved to genius. Genius arises with touch. Touch is a characteristically paradoxical phenomenon of infinite play.*

Touch only happens in the kind of play we have been outlining.

Wherever you find yourself in life and whatever you find yourself doing, a conversation with those around you about how effectively you nurture the genius in one another may be a liberating, if difficult, one to have.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**I would use the word should where James Carse uses the word must.)
(^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)

2 thoughts on “Shall we win-win?

  1. Pingback: We are stability | THIN|SILENCE

  2. Pingback: Our stability | THIN|SILENCE

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