To play the infinite game

I have been contemplating my relationship with competition.

The etymology of compete is from com – “with or together” and petere “to strive, seek.”

I have been an athlete for most of my life. Running, swimming, triathlon. Recently surfing.

In my early years, I was a fierce competitor, yet I was also surrounded by world-champion athletes, many of them friends of mine. If there was a scale from 1 to 10 for competition, where 10 was a till-death type of focus, I would place myself at a 6. World champions are 10’s. They have to be. Talent alone never gets that extra squeeze of effort required to break records.

Healthy competition is the field for excellence. We come together and strive. It is beautiful to watch. It takes maturity to stand beside another with similar skills, and use the field of their excellence to raise our own. 

Given that sport was not my occupation, it was my recreation, I deliberately chose to focus more on enjoyment than winning. Competition at that level is all-consuming, and I had other commitments, such as raising a child and building a business.

Yet I could see the places in my sporting life where my competitive streak took a darker side and became a hungry beast content with nothing but domination. 

To know this place in us, to know the incentives deliberately created in business and our modern world to pit people against each other, to pit our future and life against the now in order to win, is necessary if we are to move to a world that cultivates healthy competition for a world with a future.

James Carse called this to play the infinite game. 

Photo Taken May 13th 2023

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