How do you define success? In a recent article on the most successful sporting team in history, I discussed the values and the culture embedded by the All Blacks to maintain their covetous win rate. There is no doubt that the world looks at success and failure through the lens of win and loss. However, in a behind the scenes documentary, All or Nothing: The All Blacks, New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen outlines another way:
“The other way to look at it is were we successful with the way we played in the second half? Can we improve? The minute you think you’ve made it you’re done.”
The documentary tracks the progress of the All Blacks throughout 2017, a season where the team went undefeated in the Rugby Championship whilst also securing the Bledisloe Cup against local rivals Australia. Any other team would have viewed this season as a monumental success, but the All Blacks hold themselves to a higher account.
This is a similar narrative to one I have found in a recent book by Simon Sinek. In his book, Simon outlines two distinctive mentalities: finite and infinite games. A finite game i.e. rugby, is one where we all agree on the rules, how the game is played and there is an end to proceedings with a finite outcome. On the other hand, an infinite game is one where the rules are undefined, the players are unknown and there is no end to proceedings with no finite outcome.
The theory comes alive when Simon speaks of the difference he witnessed when he was invited to speak at the annual conferences for Apple and Microsoft. At Apple they spoke of their continued commitment to better enable teachers to teach and students to learn, an infinite game. On the contrary, at Microsoft they spoke of how Apple were outperforming them and how they were going to create a greater product to be the best in market. It is clear that Apple has a larger vision, an infinite one. An infinite player understands that at times their competitor will have a better product, or the ability to provide a better service. In an infinite game there is only what is ahead or behind.
Many leaders fail to recognise that business is an infinite game. There is no such thing as ‘winning’ when it comes to business, and there is a graveyard of countless businesses that have set out before us to become number one. The key to an infinite game is having both the will and the resources to keep playing. When these run dry, more often than not these businesses will find themselves filing for bankruptcy, in a merger or an acquisition.
What can you do to ensure you have all you need to play the infinite game in 2020 and beyond? And who can you call on for support? Personally speaking, I have found the role of a coach to be ground-breaking, providing both the insight and breakthrough needed to step out of the everyday and reflect on the infinite game. Here at Acre Frameworks we provide a first-class coaching service with qualified coaches to help facilitate this breakthrough. Get in touch to ensure your 2020 is off to a ‘winning’ start!