The 2020 is looming and many of us are taking stock what we have accomplished in 2019, the great successes that we saw, the great fails we experienced, and many of us are yearning to make 2020 a better year, or even a better decade.
But in order to improve, we cannot keep the old assumptions about the world.
We need to change our perspectives, our ways of understanding the world, and let go of some of the often faulty stands and perspectives that we still hold on to.
Continuing with the theme of The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, several factors can enable us to make better decisions including outlining our Just Cause, understanding infinite rivals, and using these insights to improve how we make decisions.
Finding and articulating first your Just Cause
Many companies and even individuals have often hard time spelling in detail what they are really about.
For example, in career development, we often struggle to find the key words to specifically express our expertise and make our brand to stand out.
Often corporations have such goals as “increase our reach and market and make products to an even larger audience”; a vision that not exactly gets anyone jumping up and down and devoting their weekends in the service of a company.
We do however need a clear vision and a clear cause because that is what ignites passion:
“For a Just Cause to serve as an effective invitation, the words must paint a specific and tangible picture of the kind of impact that we will make or what exactly a better world would look like. Only when we can imagine in our mind’s eye the exact version of the world an organization or leader honest o advance toward will we know to which organization or to which leader we want to commit our energies and ourselves. A clear Just Cause is what ignites our passions” (p. 40).
Taking time to finding your Just Cause in 2020 is one of the most precious things that you can do, whether you are a leader of an organisation or an individual who is deciding on career opportunities or just needs to have a clearer vision what they want to achieve.
A Just Cause is “a specific vision of a future state that does not yet exist: a future state so appealing that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to help advance toward that vision” (p. 32-33).
5 hallmarks of a Just Cause include:
- For something. A Just Cause is a positive vision that focuses on enacting change. It is not about fighting against something but enabling a change because of.
- Inclusive. Its message is inclusive as it aims to embrace and open up opportunities for anyone to join rather than restricts its audience and members to particular segments of society.
- Service oriented. It is in the service of others; it is about communities and people rather than meeting a short-term goal of e.g. increasing annual revenue.
- Resilient. It has to be able to withstand change, whether it is political or technological change. It has to be able to stand the test of time and still remain relevant even if the market or specific services change.
- Idealistic. It should be big and bold and in some cases even an impossible goal. Impossible goals mean that we focus on becoming better in reaching that goal rather than only beating the goal.
But these causes are not limited to corporations: A Just Cause can be very personal.
It can be a vision for your family, the kind of life you want to lead together; the kind of career that you aspire to; the kind of change that you want to see in the world.
Just Cause doesn’t have to be always something grand but it should be specific: you should be able to see it at least for yourself; an image for example of the outcome and something that you can then articulate into words that express in detail what you see.
So, grab a paper and a pen and write down the first words that come to mind: “My Just Cause is… because I want to see…”
Having such causes and visions outlined in detail encourages us to make more infinite decisions that are not about the here and now only but extend our thinking further and beyond this month and year.
Striving towards infinite comparisons
It takes time to develop an infinite mindset and make infinite decisions.
Many of the beliefs we hold for example about competition, how to gain the upper hand in business and in careers, and how to succeed, are often based on false assumptions.
Simon Sinek however reminds us that once we change our perspective for example how we see others and compare ourselves to them, we can actually grow better and faster as leaders and as individuals.
For example, the most common belief is that in order to win, we have to single handedly beat the other person or other company; we have to, and actually must, be the best of the best.
This often means we have to win at all costs, even if this means adverse impacts on our health, losing our free time, and making sub-optimal choices as long as we hit the targets and emerge as the best.
But in real life, there is no one “best”.
Someone will always run faster than you, make more money than you, have better ideas than you, publish more papers, get bigger bonuses, be more popular, have a happier marriage… the list can go on.
We have grown so accustomed to judge ourselves and “success” based on comparing ourselves to how we think others are fairing.
This makes it nearly impossible for us to make infinite decisions.
This is because social comparison is always short-term and often inflicts more pain and jealousy, and again short-cuts in our decision-making, if we keep thinking we must beat the other in order to be the best.
This pressure shifts us further and further from impactful infinite thinking in which a number of people and organisations exist at the same time that are great and the best.
In fact, numerous cases show how worthy rivals actually enable us to become better, not just through competition, but through showing where our weaknesses are and what and how we can improve.
These people or companies challenge the way we do things, challenge our thinking and vision, and can often in fact help us to clarify our just cause in more detail.
Embracing competition therefore as a way to grow and allowing numerous bests to exist can lead us to a healthier and happier 2020 if we are willing to see opportunities where we can learn about ourselves through others and through reflection.
The Infinite Goals of Climate Adaptation
Reading through this book has of course made me ponder about my own Just Cause (a process in the making) but also about decision-making about adaptation and whether we are truly in the infinite mindset.
When we talk about climate adaptation, many people assume we focus on the here and now: the particular thunderstorm that destroyed houses, the particular bushfire event, the particular heatwave.
But someone working on climate adaptation on daily basis can attest that our perspectives are often much more infinite: we look to 2030, 2050, 2060, and try to understand how the decisions that we make today can keep us resilient and adapted in a changing world to decades to come.
I don’t have the answers yet and I often feel that this is a part of an infinite game that never ends and never will end given how much we have already altered the global climate system, and how we have already locked in drastic changes that we must and have to adapt to.
Yet, I do believe that if we do shift, as individuals and as a global community, towards more infinite mindsets, towards beyond-generations perspectives, and are ready to lead differently with the focus on communities and people rather than profits, we can see real changes starting from 2020 in how we make decisions.
So for the decade starting 2020:
We can choose the game.
We can choose the rules.
We can choose how we play.