There is no winning in business. And to try to win is missing the point.
The point of your business, or any business, is to keep going and continue being in business. There’s no point where you ever ‘win.’
Simon Sinek popularized this idea of finite vs. infinite mindsets when it came to business and helped to reframe the concept of winning.
To win, you need defined players, rules, and a timeframe in which a game is played. The problem with running a business is that players change frequently, and someone who may have been a competitor yesterday isn’t today. Rules in business are flexible and also change. And there is no end time for a business.
Instead, Simon proposes that we adopt this infinite mindset and realize there’s more than enough to go around.
Simon had a conversation with a high-level Apple exec back when the Zune first launched as a rival to the iPod. Simon believed it was a far superior product, to which the Apple exec replied, “I don’t doubt that it is.”
Yet the Zune ended up being a flop, while the iPod started Apple on an upward trajectory to become the first U.S. company to have a $2 trillion market cap.
Apple was never worried about beating Microsoft and having a better product than the Zune. Their goal was innovation and to keep going.
The iPod was only a starting point, giving way to the iPhone, which revolutionized personal computing.
What’s even crazier is that Steve Jobs’s real goal was to revolutionize the music industry and how we bought music. The problem was that technology didn’t exist yet, so he had to create it.
Do you think he would have been able to accomplish this if he was focused on beating Microsoft and winning? Probably not.
Your competition isn’t actually your competition. You can’t serve everyone who needs your help, so don’t focus on trying to beat or be better than someone else.
Instead, focus on being able to keep playing the game. Continue to innovate, to improve, and do your best.
Collaborate when it benefits everyone and serves a higher purpose. Because of Steve Jobs’s vision, we now have things like Spotify, Pandora, and entirely new industries because of what he’s done.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this idea, I highly recommend checking out Simon Sinek’s book The Infinite Game.