“Do you ever win in marriage? Do you win in parenting? Do you win in life? Do you win in business?” asked Simon Sinek in his book The Infinite Game.
Simon is one of the best Leadership gurus out there. He provides an interesting framework. I thought about it and how it applies to life. It is true that you never really win in marriage or business. Yet, most of us go through life as if there are winners and losers. We see life through the lens of winning or losing. We look at our careers and leadership approach in the same manner. We look at business in the same way.
A majority of businesses have a short game mindset. The majority of the companies view performance in terms of quarterly earnings. Leaders look at a business from an annual revenue perspective. Leaders sacrifice long term gains for short term benefits.
Great leaders on the other hand look at the business from a long game point of view. They look at their business way beyond their tenure. The best companies plan and execute with the view of the next 20,30 or even 50 year. They build resilient companies.
If you think about business from a long game perspective, you will realize that there are no real winners and losers. What we have are companies that are ahead or behind others.
Companies claim that they want to the biggest in their industry. Okay, the biggest according to what set of metrics? Do all companies in the industry subscribe to the same metric? Even if they do, when a company wins then what’s next?
Maintaining the number one position is harder than reaching it. New players will always come around to dislodge these short game minded corporations. Netflix dislodge giant Blockbusters. Amazon dislodged the biggest brick and mortar bookstores. There are no real winners in business.
New companies can come into the game to play. Companies that run out of resources and willingness to play drop out of the game. The game will continue regardless of who’s playing.
Playing the long game provides leaders a better perspective. Leaders can plan for the long game while playing the short game. The short game is played only to understand your journey in the long game. They provide leaders with speed and distance traveled.
Great leaders go after a cause bigger than their company. A cause that is so profound that there are other companies and leaders rallying behind it. Leaders that look at the long game makes sure that their company survives long after they retire. They do not build a company culture around them and their personality. They create a culture that develops other leaders that will continue to grow their business. A culture of collaboration and teamwork. A culture of service and trust.
Life is the same. We don’t win in life. We join the living. While we are at it, we should be doing our best to play our long game until we die. We play the short game by establishing personal goals and try meeting them. Goals that are carefully crafted to help a cause bigger than our life. A cause that benefits others and not ourselves.
When we pass away, life goes on. It’s better to live life with the view of the long game. A view beyond our brief years of existence. A view of building a legacy that will continue beyond our lifetime. A life of service to our families, love ones, colleagues, customers, and others.
How would you want to be remembered? Have you made a positive impact on your family well beyond your stay on earth? Have you made a positive impact on the people you encountered in life? Did you use your life in service of others?
Let’s build a Nation of Servant Leaders from all walks of life.