The Blog

Ready To Play The Infinite Game?

This being human feels like a lot to manage these days.

Afghanistan is in radical collapse.
Delta is surging.
Climate catastrophes are multiplying.

I don’t know about you but … I have to remain incredibly vigilant with myself to not collapse into a grasping for who’s right and who’s wrong, seeking solutions, or finding someone or something to blame.

I know this comes from my desire to feel in control. Or to feel like somebody is. I can’t help it. It’s a part of being human.

But so is my ability to yield to uncertainty. To chaos. To dissolution. And to death.

Life is complex.

And complicated.

Surrendering to the wildness is simply a bit harder for me to do than it is for me to chase the fix.

There’s one thing, however, that I do know for certain …

Though there certainly exists a black and white.

Nothing is ever black or white.

Every thing, every human, every predicament, every moment is always made of infinite shades of gray. Learning to live as this dynamic of endless gradations and finding a way to have our thoughts and actions harmonize with one another rather than terrorize each other is the work — is the way.

This is true in the world — and in our own interior selves.

I have to remain vigilant with myself in order to not collapse into grasping for which part of Sarah is right. The one who wants to punch someone for their behavior or the one who wants to forgive and move on. The one who is screaming for attention or the one who wants to disappear. The one who wants to be alone or the one who wants to lose herself in another.

I know better than to choose only one.

No matter which self I were to act on, another one will, if not immediately, eventually rear its head. Guaranteed.

And this is where the work is — between the poles of this and that, right and wrong, true and false.

The answer is never in either-or.

It’s always figuring out how to include both.

This approach is sometimes called playing the infinite game.

Although the concept of infinite games has been around for decades, the notion of an infinite game didn’t gain wide popularity until Simon Sinek reintroduced the idea in 2017 in a business context.

The infinite game is a way to think about our lives together and the kind of player we’d like to be. The basic premise is that in life there are at least two kinds of game: the infinite game and the finite games.

The purpose of the infinite game is to keep our deepest values in play and the aim of the finite games is to win.

When we seek to have black win over white or vise verse we are playing a finite game. Someone always loses, and in the process we all lose.

The finite game just isn’t as interesting. IMO.

Here’s the hitch.

It’s super important to name, acknowledge, and feel black and white positions in any dynamic.

Not only is it natural, but it is healthy.

There is always a nadir and a top. Always a bottom with every high. So, yay! no problem — let’s not deny the extremes. Let us allow them to be seen and felt.

But let’s cultivate a deeper sensibility and find the way through to a place where those poles get to make art with one another rather than seek to annihilate each other.

This inner work with myself strikes me as the same as the outer work necessary for the Afghanis and the Taliban to get along, for the Palestinians and the Israelis to make peace, for the vaxxers and anti vaxxers to find common ground … and for all of us who see the ones standing in the extreme poles, who love them, and who want them to survive and thrive.

The inner work and the outer work can both be played as infinite games.

The rules of engagement are different. Step in to discover what they are. I’m happy to play with you.

Because here’s the deal …

As we each shift to playing the infinite game with our interior selves, the world will change. It will be turned inside out.

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