“How do we grow and not lose our soul?”
This question was asked during a leadership meeting I attended four years ago. I, along with the rest of leadership in my practice, have wrestled with this question ever since.
Have you ever considered how growth can harm people?
We’ve all heard some iteration of why growth is important. William S. Burroughs said, “When you stop growing you start dying,” while Lou Holz stated, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” Companies often take these mantras to heart, putting growth at the top of their priorities.
But are they sacrificing their people? How can we maintain our soul and grow?
“The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding.” — The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek
Few authors cause me to think about leadership and managing people more than Simon Sinek. His latest book, The Infinite Game, challenges leaders to always take the long-game approach and to stop keeping score.
“A finite-minded leader uses the company’s performance to demonstrate the value of their own career. An infinite-minded leader uses their career to enhance the long-term value of the company.” — The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek
Sinek uses case studies to show the detriments of short-sided business decisions than value resources over people. In his first book, Start with Why, he emphasizes the importance of anchoring all actions to a personal why. He expands this concept by imploring businesses to remain anchored in a Just Cause.
If we keep score and treat business like a sport — winners and losers — we often sacrifice people and burn bridges needed for long-term success. The infinite leader embraces rivals, stays true to themselves while being adaptable, and places people over resources.
“’How do I get the most out of my people’ is the wrong question. ‘How do I create an environment in which my people can work to their natural best’ is a better question.” — The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek
Many of these actions are challenging, especially when facing external performance pressures focused on growth and revenue. But Sinek shows many examples of leaders who made the hard decisions, stuck with a Just Cause, and valued their people who were subsequently rewarded. It may not be an immediate reward, but they are on a trajectory for long-term success, fulfillment, and purpose that benefits the greater good, not just their own pockets.
“How a leader lists their priorities reveals their bias. And their bias will influence the choices they make.” — The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek
I have served as a multi-site manager for my physical therapy practice. It’s easy for hitting budget to take over as the primary purpose of my role. When that happens, people come second and the health of the organization deteriorates.
As a young and inexperienced manager, I had a lot of pain points and slip-ups. Looking back, falling back on investing in my people always yielding beneficial results. Those employees are better equipped for their roles and helping drive our practice forward.
“Fear can push us to choose the best finite option at the risk of doing infinite damage.” — The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek
How does this apply to you? The infinite game can apply to an individual. Do you write the same topics, only follow trends, and hunt for immediate financial success? Or do you invest in yourself as a writer, make adjustments based on feedback, stick with a Just Cause, and focus on the long game?
Success comes in many forms. You have to decide what it means to you. To, Sinek, success comes down to investing in people, adhering to the Just Cause, and building companies that last.