James Carse points out that there are two types of games.
There are finite games and infinite games.
We play finite games all the time. Like when the car next to you is racing to merge on the freeway. Or launching your next product line ahead of the competition. Pick up basketball is also a finite game.
You play finite games to win. They are made to end. They have boundaries.
On the flip side, you have the infinite game. The purpose of the infinite game is to keep playing. You don’t play to win. When you throw a ball to your kid, you don’t throw it as hard as you can so he’ll quit. No, you throw the ball to him so that he’ll throw it back.
Right now, the ball is in the air. What are you going to do?
Here’s the truth: You’re not going to enjoy what you do everyday. No one does. Anybody that tells you otherwise isn’t stretching themselves. There not producing enough bad ideas (so they can come up with some really good ones). There not going to the edges. There not pushing the boundaries. There playing it safe.
But having some bad days isn’t the real reason you should quit.
Quit for the right reasons. Which is early and often before you start. Quit at the beginning when it’s cheap. Don’t start anything unless you intend on finishing it.
Don’t quit because it’s difficult. Of course, it’s difficult. That’s why the thing you’re doing, is worth doing.
If it was easy—if there was a shorter cut—someone else would have figured it out by now.
Push through. Everything worth doing has a Dip.
[Tip: The time to be looking for another job is not when your tired of the current one you have. The time to look was yesterday. Since you can’t go back, the next best option is now.]
It’s the only life worth living.
Right now, the voice in your head is telling you that (a) you’re not good enough and (b) who do you think you are?
That’s what Resistance does. It wants us to believe that you’re something you’re not.
I played on the internet for 30 minutes before writing this post. Pretending to be productive. Acting like I was looking for inspiration. I realized afterwards that I was just wasting my time so I didn’t have to write anything. Because I was afraid.
I was afraid that no one is going to read this. That I’m not cut out to be a writer. That I’m not doing work that matters.
Despite being afraid, I beat Resistance today because I created something and shared it. Despite the risk of failure, I did it anyway.
(Maybe no one will read this. Maybe it won’t make an impact. That’s okay. I can learn and try again tomorrow.)
Don’t quit. The change you are looking to seek in the world is right there. The work you do matters. But it takes time.
The only promise I can make is that if you stick it out and finish, you’ll be a better person from when you started.
[Starting is the easy part. Finishing something is what makes all the difference. I’m finished writing for today. But I’ll be thinking about what I’m going to write tomorrow all day today. I feel better that I finished something meaningful. It’s what I have set out to do. Everyday. Yep, the start is exciting. But joy comes when we finish what we started.]
We all have a need to be needed.
But what happens to truck drivers when cars become smart enough to drive themselves?
And when there are no accidents on the road, why will we need insurance agents?
This is going to be the toughest challenge we have ever faced in history: When that thing you do for a living is gone, how are going to feel needed?
Here’s a start:
- Instead of looking for your purpose, fulfill a purpose.
- Solve an interesting problem.
- Help someone do something you could never do.
- Embrace the impossible. Think bigger.
- Now think bigger than that.
- One by one. Drip by drip by drip. Connect. Build Trust. Earn our attention.
- Show us your best work. Doesn’t matter if you get paid.
- Be generous. It’s a gift.
- Ship it. Spread your ideas.
- This might work. This might not work. That’s what makes it worth doing.
- Learn to see. See the world as it is.
- Be missed when you’re gone.
- Play the infinite game.
- Use Resistance as a compass. Don’t run away from fear. Dance with it.
- When it’s not working, make better art.
- Quit before you start or commit to pushing through the Dip.
- Stand up. Stand out.
Are all tied together.
[See what it looks like plotted on a graph.]
If you live in scarcity, it can be difficult to experience joy when your sole focus is on survival. I am talking about extreme levels of poverty. The kind of poverty where if you dropped a carton of eggs someone at home goes hungry.
There are more than 3 billion people today, living on less than $3 a day.
Yet, there are more people that have their needs taken care of than ever before. If you are reading this, you live in one of the safest countries in the world and have access to healthcare, sanitation, education, transportation. Many of us have opportunities to recreate. We can worship freely, speak up and we have a right to assemble. We also have access to information and the internet and connection. Our literacy rate is higher than ever before.
This is the best time to be alive in human history.
So why are we seeing levels of joy decrease in a world that is increasing in abundance?
It turns out the endless treadmill of accumulation, we are finding out, is actually endless. There are studies that have shown your level of happiness can begin to decrease at $75,000 per year.
But I think the thing we are missing the most is desire.
A desire to be needed and to discover. A desire to make a difference in someone’s world. A desire to fulfill our purpose—the things that God wants us to be so we can become.
Before choices comes a desire.
If you’re lacking a desire this Thanksgiving, start with The Three G’s.
Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for reading. I hope it has made an impact.