A few years ago, I discovered the joy of audiobooks. I have always been a pretty voracious reader, but got caught up in how “busy” life felt and sitting quietly with a book screamed Overly Indulgent.

(Yes, I’m working on it.)

But as someone who drives and travels for work, listening to audiobooks or podcasts is doing two things at once, and enjoyable to boot. (See the end of this blog for a list of recommended reading/listening.)

My listening choices seem to correspond magically to my life – I can’t explain that, but I’ve come to accept and even expect it. If I’m struggling with something, it seems a book or podcast serendipitously appears.

The Infinite Game is not my first Simon Sinek book. I’ve read Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last; I’ve watched several of Mr. Sinek’s Ted Talks.

In short, Sinek’s book encourages business leaders to think of business itself as an infinite game.

Finite games, by contrast, are defined as those with known players, a winner and a loser, and most critically, an end point. Football, for example, is a finite game. (Go Bills!)

Approaching business as a finite game focuses on competition, profits, and short-term goals. In other words, winning.

Approaching business as an infinite game focuses on keeping the game going, and whatever it takes to do that; remaining nimble, responding to changes in the market with curiosity, and inspiring creativity and cultivating team members.

It gave words to the approach I’ve been stumbling around with my businesses.

I recently came across a business card from 1999, when I started my training and consulting business, Proactive Compliances Services, Inc. The banner across the bottom of the card read:

A Common-Sense Approach to Solving Environmental, Health and Safety Dilemmas

And that was the crux of it.

My clients had problems — what company EH&S professional does not?

My consulting business was there to explore the complexities of the issue, suggest a solution, and work with the client to facilitate that solution. We specialized, and still do, in creating customized classroom and hands-on training.

In my training, my approach was a micro-version of the same.

My challenge was to explore the complexity of an employee’s safety dilemma, present options for reducing the risk (including ensuring compliance with the regulations), and then chat about the best way of making that happen.

As web-based training became a “thing” some years ago, I had an Archie Bunker moment.

Archie Bunker

Well, whoooop de doooo!

I checked some of it out. It was almost uniformly awful.

Canned content. Visually uninspired. A monotone voiced-over PowerPoint presentation. No interaction. Wrong or over-simplified technical information. It did not represent anything brag-worthy.

It stunk.

Emoticon holding his nose because of a bad smell

Rather than be 100% dismissive of the concept, I got good and curious.

Those who choose to adopt an infinite midset are better equipped to manage the unknown. In fact, they are able to find opportunity in uncertainty.

How could web-based training possibly capture what was so fundamental about live training?

Beat ‘em or join ‘em?

I’m not going to lie. I held my nose when I entered the marketplace in 2016.

There was a client problem here to solve and that was what my company did. I launched PCS Custom Training Solutions, a sister-company, to my long-standing live training and consulting business, to do just that.

I had no idea it had a name at the time. Infinite game? Not a clue.

My clients had a problem.

  • They couldn’t pull employees out of the field, off the road, or into a training room from their construction worksite without major disruption to their operations.
  • They had regulatory or liability topics they were required to teach in a way that could be demonstrated objectively and hold up to a court challenge.
  • They hated what was available on the market at the time.
  • They had employees or contractors or temporary employees who needed to understand the hazards about their job and the company’s expectations for their approach to those hazards to minimize risk.
  • Many, like me, were not the least bit techy. Many had no desire to become techy.

The solution?

  • Understand the client’s unique challenges
  • Use our decades of safety and regulatory expertise to define the approach
  • Work with a team of creative, problem-solving instructional designers focused on scenario-based learning
  • Bridge the challenges with content customized training designed to address the gap
  • Focus on simplifying the tech so that becomes ours to solve, not the client’s

I look at our training content, particularly when it’s been a while since I reviewed it, and I dance a little happy dance of pride, both as a safety professional and educator, and as someone who held her nose when she leapt into the abyss.

As the business grows and evolves, so does my role. It’s a day-by-day evolution, as we perfect our processes, celebrate the unique gifts each member of the team brings to the table, stumble from time to time, and rise again with a new sense of purpose.

"An infinite mindset is the recognition that there is no practical end to our work. The goal is not to win or be best in an infinite game; it is to strive to be better, to experience constant improvement." Simon Sinek, Author

From that reluctant start with my nose held, it may be the most fun I’ve had yet in my career!

Do you have an infinite mindset as well?

Would you like to chat about our approach?

Drop me a line at pcarey@PCSCustomTraining.com


PS. As promised, here are some other recommended books/podcasts:

  • Simon Sinek’s books and Ted Talks
  • Brene Brown’s books (especially Dare To Lead for business leaders) and Ted Talks and podcasts
  • Guy Raz’s book and podcast, How I Built This
  • Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
  • Linda Rottenberg, Crazy Is A Compliment
  • Abby Wombach, Wolfpack
  • Sebastian Junger, Tribe
  • BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits
  • Glennon Doyle, Untamed
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic