If life is a contest, then it seems to make sense that the goal is to win.
By achieving more than most people, rising higher than average, or being known as exceptional, you are surely ‘winning’ in life… right?
Up until about a month ago, I would have agreed that it was true. That the sole purpose of life was to be the best at whatever I did.
Take a look at my life, and you can see how much I believed this. Everything I did, everything I shared in my writing and speaking, was geared toward becoming the ‘best’ or ‘winning.’
Whether I admitted it or not, my life was driven entirely by a desire to be known as a ‘winner’ in life.
That was before I read The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek.
On the surface, the book seems to be about changing our approach to business and corporate life. But underneath is a profound message that shifts the way we can choose to focus on life.
Simon Sinek learned the concept of Infinite Games from James Carse, author of Finite and Infinite Games. He has taken the philosophy further based on his own experiences and updated it for the current business world.
On page 56, I came across something that shook the core of my beliefs.
“Infinite minded leaders understand that the ‘best’ is not a permanent state. Instead, they strive to be ‘better.’ ‘Better’ suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our energies and talents to make progress in that journey. ‘Better’ in the Infinite Game, is better than ‘best.’“
For the first time, I could see a flaw in my thinking towards life. I have spent the better part of 40 years trying to be the best at what I do. Whether it’s speaking, business, relationships, health, I would always try to outdo other people and prove myself the best.
But after 40 years, I am not the best at anything. I am simply better than I have ever been.
Now I clearly see the fallacy of thinking this way. By pursuing winning or being the best, I am stuck pursuing finite ambitions. And even though I do win at times, the satisfaction is fleeting. Within a few weeks, I am onto the next goal trying to win again.
Now I understand that by pursuing the focus of becoming better, I am continually in a state of actualization. It doesn’t matter what the result is; it matters that I am on the path.
I aim to one day run a highly successful business. I aim to one day become a World Champion of Public Speaking. But these goals actually matter very little compared to the true purpose of my life: to become better. I can always be better in business, speaking, health, relationships, and character. That path is infinite.
Trying to be the ‘best’ limits me. Aiming to be ‘better’ enriches me.
As we move toward 2020, I feel that this lesson can greatly impact the next decade of my life. Yes, I still have goals and dreams, but more than that, I have a new approach.
I used to want to be the best.
From now on, all I want is to be better.