Parenting with an Infinite Mindset
Do we want our kids to be number one in everything or do we wish to raise our children to be “good kids?” - Simon Sinek
With the launch of Simon’s latest book, The Infinite Game, we conducted an internal team read along so we could learn, share and grow together. We unpacked examples of what it means to lead with an infinite mindset as a leader of a business, organization or political party. The parents on our team naturally began to explore what it meant to apply an infinite mindset to parenting. Here’s what a few our team’s parents had to share.
Press & PR
As a parent, sometimes it feels like the finite games of life — teeth brushing, room cleaning, homework finishing, etc. etc. etc. — are infinite! But when I take the time to breathe and remind myself what I really want for my daughter, I can put those tasks into perspective. And then even those tasks can be a vehicle for how to play in an infinite game. Teeth brushing becomes about health and self-respect. Room cleaning becomes about independence and living in community with other people. Finishing homework becomes about responsibility and determination.
While the framework of an infinite game is handy for how we talk about everyday things with our kids, I also think about how I am (or am not) modeling an infinite mindset in my own actions. When my daughter sees me learning new things, helping neighbors I know and don’t know, engaging my community from the school board to Congress, or even making my own bed, she observes how I choose to play the game — with others and in service to others. Actions speak louder than words. (This is a direct correlation to the CVS and tobacco example in the book! 🙂 )
Raising five kids, I feel like the CEO, CFO, COO and HR of a small company. There are different personalities, skill sets, opinions, attitudes and levels of willingness at any given moment. Adopting an infinite mindset is valuable in leading such a “company” that is constantly growing, maturing, evolving, and shifting.
The mindset that everyone is valued and is worthy of support and opportunity is helpful in raising a large family. We could not function well nor survive the ups and downs of life if we were only out for ourselves. We need one another to survive and thrive. It is important in a large family for everyone to show up for one another and to also feel valued themselves. It is essential for everyone to have their moment to shine and to be seen and heard.
Dinner is our version of a board meeting. We discuss everyone’s day and share events, big and small. We take the time to celebrate all moments - from losing a tooth to acing a math test. We talk about our struggles and challenges from friends to school work. We talk about the future, our dreams, and opportunities. It is when we can be transparent, vulnerable and honest. By creating and nurturing that space, we are able to navigate through tough times and good times as a family. We learn not to feel jealous or threatened by one another and instead to support and challenge one another. We help each other see the bigger picture in life.
Although we see the value in finite moments and experiences, we do not let ourselves be limited by such moments. Those finite moments are opportunities to learn larger lessons, to see and reach for bigger goals. An infinite mindset helps us evaluate the path we are on and the direction our “company” is heading. An infinite mindset helps strengthen the foundation of our family by emphasizing the importance of community, accountability, responsibility, empathy, and awareness of one’s personal actions and their influence on others.
Leading my family with an infinite mindset helps me inspire everyone to be committed to themselves and to our family as a whole. We all need to be flexible and open-minded for everyone in our family to succeed and progress forward as we all grow older, as our individual and collective needs change, and when life throws unexpected curveballs. An infinite mindset helps me show and teach my kids that it is possible for them to live to their individual potential and be “successful” while simultaneously living in service to one another for the greater good of all.
Unlike a marathon, parenting has no end and no mile-markers to tell us how we are doing. Parenting is infinite, and let’s face it, some days we are ahead, and other days we feel way behind. And that is ok.
Embracing an infinite mindset allows us to recognize and accept that we are not perfect parents, that we are human and we will have many “not our best parenting” moments. Being infinite-minded allows us to embrace the moments when we are on or off our game, and openly admit and share with our spouse and kids when we do fall. Parenting with an infinite mindset reminds us that all we can do is learn and keep learning, try and keep trying, and just be ok with that. I believe doing it together with our kids is what matters.
Here is how it played out in my house recently. We had one of those mornings, trying to get out of the house and no one was listening to me and I was mad. We were now running late and no one had brushed their teeth or made their beds. I was now screaming. I dropped the kids at school and I felt horrible.
That evening, I huddled with the kids to talk about what happened that morning. I started by owning and apologizing for my actions and reactions and I shared with them how I felt and why I got angry. By doing so, my kids owned their part and apologized too. We all ended up talking about what we can all do differently tomorrow so we can have a better start to the day. The best part of the conversation, we all recognized that tomorrow is a new day and we get to have a do-over, and that we may not nail it tomorrow or the next day, but we all promised to keep trying.
This taught me, yet again, that some days we are ahead and some days we are behind. The goal of an infinite game is to keep going. For that one moment, I was running full speed ahead!
Head of Finance
As the mother of a one-year-old and two-year-old I feel as if our life can be infinitely chaotic. The reality is our life is full of both chaotic and harmonious moments. When I apply an infinite mindset to my parenting I consider how these moments with my children translate to the future. I ask myself: is it important to dominate, win these battles with them, or have them conform to what I want at the present time? Or is it more important to truly understand who they are and build a relationship with them now, in this moment, which ultimately affects both of our futures.
The other morning I found us rushing around the house to get to school as I had an early morning call. After showers I was trying to get the little ones dressed, however, they each thought it would be fun to keep crawling away from me, run into the living room to play, or even undress after they were fully dressed. Admittedly, in a moment of frustration, realizing I might be late for the call, I raised my voice, yelling “I have a call, we have to go!” Right after I raised my voice, I took a deep breath and realized it was my issue that we were running late. I could have done numerous things to keep us on track – shortened the shower, gotten up earlier, had my 2-year-old dress herself instead of me insisting I dress her the “right way.” I quickly apologized to my children, telling them, mommy loves them, it was my fault we were running behind, and gave them both big hugs.
Little children have no concept of time, deadlines, or schedules. They only know the here and now. To them playing in the living room or laughing on the bed while crawling away from mommy was the most important thing to them in that moment. To them time is infinite. I’m the one who has put barriers on time, restricting myself to deadlines and schedules. Having an infinite mindset helps me to see that I want to build a strong bond with my children and not demand they adhere to my needs. I want them to feel the freedom to be who they are in the here and the now. It doesn’t mean there aren’t schedules to adhere to or we can show up to calls whenever we want. However, it does mean I don’t have to overreact to their ability to only see the moment they are living in.