29/04/2020 Looking forward

The good news is, that on the whole I am feeling a little better today, than I was over the weekend. This makes sense really if I have had a secondary bacterial infection, as the antibiotics should be starting to work now. I have been coughing quite a lot today, but it feels like there is something there to shift, and after I have finished coughing, I have a nasty taste in my mouth. On the whole though I feel less ill.

I have been able to read for quite some time today and have spent most of the morning reading The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. If you have not heard of this book, it is a leadership book. The premise is that successful businesses, teams and individuals are playing an infinite game, rather than a finite game. The purpose of an infinite game is to stay in the game for as long as possible, so there are no winners or losers, just those that stay in the game and those that do not. Now he wrote the book about business and there is an argument that businesses that play to stay in the game during this pandemic are more likely to still be in the game at the end. Those businesses that play the finite game where the object is to win are less likely to survive. Those businesses that have a cause or purpose and are willing to adapt to continue that purpose and have the trust of their teams are more likely to survive.

Now if I think about my experiences of this pandemic and how myself, my family and the everyone will now and in the future. If we all want to flourish in the future, we are all going to have to play an infinite game. There is no point in trying to play a finite game against an opponent like covid-19. This virus like all other infections and diseases are naturally occurring (granted often made worse by our behaviour) therefore we cannot win against it or any over natural occurrence. What we can do is play the infinite game, we can play to stay in the game.

When this pandemic was just beginning I wrote a blog about being resilient in the face of this awfulness. In many ways this is very similar to playing the infinite game. I outlined 3 criteria to help resilience first described by Diane Couto. I thought I would share them again as we are in the midst of this terrible pandemic and I think it is important to keep our focus on what is really important to us. The criteria are:

  • Realism; it is vital to be realistic about what we are facing and it is incredibly important to reduce the transmission of this disease. Covid-19 is incredibly dangerous especially to the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Just as a reminder a third of admissions to ICUs across the UK have died. It is incredibly difficult to stay at home, and has an impact on the economy, but the risk of this getting worse again could be catastrophic.
  • Purpose; all our lives have meaning, we all have a purpose, whether that is simply being a parent, a carer, a child, as well as the role you play in society. We do this for a purpose, maybe to protect and provide for our families, or to play a part in society, by being a Nurse, a shop worker, a delivery driver, solicitor, bank manager, accountant. All our jobs and volunteer roles provide a service to society, but are you clear why you do it? What drives you to do it? Keep that clear in your mind. That purpose is going to be needed as much in the future as it is now.
  • Creativity; we are all having to adapt to new ways of working, and living. Social media is full of hacks to make life easier, either how to cut your own hair, how to watch and provide entertainment, and how to cook on a shoestring. Being creative is how we will create our new futures.

Simon Sinek suggests businesses that adapt to protect the workforce and maintain their purpose stay in the game longer than those trying to win. Our infinite game must be to survive as a community by adapting to protect all of us especially the vulnerable, that lives up to our values as a community. If we try to win we will surely lose, if we play to stay in the game, we will stay in the game.

When I think about my personal position, I am trying to play the infinite game, I am not where I want to be at the moment, but I know now that if I take my time and keep playing to stay in I will be back at work making a difference soon enough. In hindsight maybe I was trying to beat this virus, something that was not going to happen, if I kept fighting I would most definitely have lost. So from now on I am going to play the infinite game by applying Couto’s criteria of realism, purpose and creativity.

As always stay home, stay safe and I will see you all soon.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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