5 secret steps to playing the Infinite Game

If you’re a rugby fan, you’ll be seeing this writ large almost daily. Teams up against each other, smashing each other silly over 80 minutes to take out the win.

If you’re on social media, you’ll see this played out in any number of forums. Nutrition, fitness, personal development, the easy way to get to your attention is to promise you crazy results, in short amounts of time.

But what if I told you there’s another way?!

What if there’s an alternative to the finite game?

Game theory has been around for some time but has recently come back into the spotlight through the works of Simon Sinek. Sinek is a proponent of the Infinite game being the ultimate way to navigate the world of business. We’ll hear more about the five factors Sinek believes imperative in this below.

For us, it translates into the ideal way to approach health and fitness.

First, tell me about the finite game?

Simply put, finite games have winners and losers, just like a game of rugby, football or netball. Of course, there can be a draw, but rarely do teams play for one.

Most naturally, they play to win.

The rules of the finite game are known to both sides, the size of the playing field or court are pre-defined, the scoreboard keeps track of the score, and at the end of a pre-determined period of time, a winner is declared. It’s simple. It’s easy. Someone triumphs, someone suffers the loss.

Now, I hear you say, where’s the problem in that? What’s wrong with focusing on winning

Well, we’ll get to that shortly.

The Infinite Game needs to come next

The Infinite Game

In complete contrast to the finite approach, there are no winners or losers.

Just like there are often no rules, and where there are, they are most often unclear, open to negotiation.

Unlike the finite examples, the field of play is undefined and progress difficult to put down on a spreadsheet.

We see no clear winners or losers in the infinite game.

Adversaries change just like the goalposts move.

The eventual goal is to outlast your competition.

How this relates to health and fitness.

The “game” of health and fitness is an infinite one, where the rules change regularly, approaches come and go, and there is no endpoint to the game. You are never too fit. Rather, you are either ahead or behind the position where you started.

There is no biggest winner or biggest loser.

The infinite game continues indefinitely until someone loses the will or accountability to keep playing.

Your plan for success

To be successful when playing the Infinite Game, you need a pen, a blank piece of paper, and these 5 things:

A just cause — A simple “why” isn’t going to get you out of bed at 0500, or help you understand the chicken salad you bought for lunch is better than the pie you can smell.

Your just cause is what WILL motivate you to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the fire inside that catalyses you to do what you do.

Mine is the memory of my grandparents shrinking as I grew into adulthood. I used that just cause to start our Legends program, to help an audience the traditional gym environment pays little respect to. That cause translates itself into the way we run all our programs. For the next 30-50 years, not the next 30-50 minutes.

Task – I want you to write down what your just cause is. Be audacious, being staunch is the enemy of success here.

Courageous leadership — Playing the infinite game requires us to put our just cause before all else.

You need to be willing to stand up to the pressures of Friday night drinks, the whole pizza challenge, or the belief you can thrash yourself every workout, and stay true to your cause.

This struggle is often too great for a single person to tackle alone, hence why we focus on coaching, rather than access.

Task – how are you going to demonstrate courageous leadership. Where in your life can you show more discipline, or exercise your No muscle

Being vulnerable — this doesn’t mean weepy walks or crying at the first sign of adversity.

Being vulnerable means you’ve committed to trusting others to help you, that you’ve realised that you’re not going to be able to do this on your own.

No-one cracks everything on their own, and if they tell you they do, they’re more vulnerable than you are ever going to be

Embracing your vulnerability allows you to free yourself from its shackles, to take risks without fear

I do the same every day running a small business. There’s no way I’d have the time to write this if I hadn’t realised I can’t do everything myself, and built a team of people invested in helping others.

Task – who are you going to trust, who can you be vulnerable with. If you don’t have anyone, put me down. In the words of Top Guns’ Viper, ‘I’ll fly with you’!

Worthy adversary —In the infinite game, our adversaries can be recognised and respected, but your success or failure isn’t measured against them.

Simply, you are competing against yourself and your success or failure will be measured against your just cause.

One of the hardest habits to shake when working out, especially in a group, is comparing yourself to the person next to you.

As motivating as it is in the short term, if you play the Infinite Game for long enough, you’ll come to see its futility and celebrate, not chase those around you.

Our adversaries may push us to buy useless products like BCAA’s or take meal replacement shakes as part of an MLM rort, but our infinite game sees us constantly striving to become a better version of ourselves in order to fulfil our just cause.

Task – what is/are your adversaries? Mine are confidence and motivation, and I have to work constantly to avoid their influences. What do you need to work on to avoid?

Open playbook — Far too many of us chase a changeable cause with a strict approach when pursuing a strict cause with a changeable strategy will see us much closer to success.

An open playbook allows us to apply flexibility to our plans, so we can change course as our infinite game develops, moving us closer to our just cause.

An open playbook demands transparency, hence our requirement to be vulnerable, so we can develop trust in those we’ve chosen to help us. Resisting being transparent often occurs through fear of embarrassment or the thought of losing control.

Not being able to say you had an extra slice of pizza, or didn’t train today isn’t going to make you more successful. In fact, it’s likely to make your failure more probable. Remember, the next 50 years, not the next 50 minutes!

Task – How can you be more transparent? I often hide the fact I like a cheeky biscuit or two, for fear I’ll be ridiculed as the fat coach!

So there it is, your infinite game plan, or at least the start of it.

If you want some help mapping out the rest of it, here’s a link to book a time to chat.

If you don’t feel up to face to face accountability just yet, here’s my email
paul@crossfithuttvalley.com

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