Our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die, and life still continues with us or without us. There are other players, some of them are our rivals, we enjoy wins and we suffer losses, but we can always keep playing tomorrow (until we run out of the ability to stay in the game). And no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we accumulate, no matter how many promotions we’re given, none of us will ever be declared the winner of life.
In any other game, we get two choices. Though we do not get to choose the rules of the game, we do get to choose if we want to play and we get to choose how we want to play. The game of life is a little different. In this game, we only get one choice. Once we are born, we are players. The only choice we get is if we want to play with a finite mindset or an infinite mindset.
If we choose to live our lives with a finite mindset, it means we make our primary purpose to get richer or promoted faster than others. To live our lives with an infinite mindset means that we are driven to advance a Cause bigger than ourselves. We see those who share our vision as partners in the Cause and we work to build trusting relationships with them so that we may advance the common good together. We are grateful for the success we enjoy. And as we advance we work to help those around us rise.
To live our lives with an infinite mindset is to live a life of service.
Remember, in life, we are players in multiple infinite games. Our careers are just one. No one of us will ever be declared the winner of parenting, friendship, learning or creativity either. However, we can choose the mindset with which we approach all these things. To take a finite approach to parenting means to do everything we can to ensure our kids not just get the best of everything but are the best at everything. A seemingly fair standard for these things “will help our kid excel in life.” Except when a finite mindset is the primary means of play, it can give way to ethical fading or becoming more obsessed with our child’s standing in the hierarchy over if they are actually learning or growing as a person.
An extreme example is shared by clinical psychologies and New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Wendy Mogel. She tells the story of a father who raised his hand during a conference at which she was speaking to tell her that “he had a fight with the pediatrician about his son’s apgar score ... and I won.” The apgar score is a test performed within the first minute to five minutes of a child’s birth to determine their strength. Basically, as Dr. Mogel explains, “if they are blue and floppy, you get a one, if they are pink and plump they get a five.” Think about that for a second. This parent seemed more concerned with “winning” and getting his newborn child a higher score rather than concerning himself with his child’s health. Flash forward 18 years and think about the lengths that parent might go to ensure his child gets the best scores to get into the best school. Not to mention the impact it will have on the child’s personal growth.
To parent with an infinite mindset, in contrast, means helping our kids discover their talents, pointing them to find their own passions and encouraging they take that path. It means teaching our children the value of service, teaching them how to make friends and play well with others. It means teaching our kids that their education will continue for long after they graduate school. It will last their entire lives ... and there may not be any curriculum or grades to guide them. It means teach out kids how to live a life with an infinite mindset themselves.
To live a life with an infinite mindset means thinking about second and third order effects of our decisions. It means thinking about who we vote for with a different lens. It means taking responsibility for later impact of the decisions we make today.
And like all infinite games, in the game of life, the goal is not to win, it is to perpetuate the game.
We only get one choice in the infinite game of life. What will you choose?