Winning the game

During my yearlong study binge on longevity, I came across the concept of game theory. There are many different ideas about game theory but I want us to focus on the idea of finite games verses infinite games. To best illustrate this let’s use the sport of Baseball. A baseball game is finite which means it has a defined end point, defined participants, and an established method of winning as well as agreed upon rules. At the end of 9 innings, as long as there isn’t a tie, the team with the most runners crossing home plate wins.

Contrast that finite baseball game to an infinite game. The goal of the infinite game is to simply stay in the game. The goal is to keep the game going until one side runs out of resources or the will to continue. This game has no predetermined end point, the rules are more fluid and the players can vary. There is no need to rush anything and less need to take careless risks in the infinite game because again, the goal is to stay in the game.

Now consider your life, your business or your fitness pursuits in light of this theory. Can you see how both games can contrast different pursuits? Here are some examples…

  • I want to lose 10 pounds by summer (Finite)

  • I want to establish a better nutrition plan that I can live with forever and eventually my body will achieve a more sustainable size. (Infinite)

  • I want to train for a 10k this fall and finish in under an hour. (Finite)

  • I want to have a regular running schedule that allows me to steadily improve and occasionally I will test my progress in a race. (Infinite)

  • I want to grow my business to 5 million dollars in revenue by 2020. (Finite)

  • I want my business to be debt free and continue growing as fast as it can without the need for outside investment. (Infinite)


I’m not saying that one method is better than the other. What I am saying is that our life long pursuits, (Infinite) need to be viewed differently than our temporary pursuits (Finite).

For years I trafficked in the finite world of everything. Going from goal to goal, game to game, laying out tasks and accomplishing them. In running I would identify a race, train for it and complete it in a matter of weeks or months. Runners are great at the finite games. Contrast that to the strength and muscle building community. Instead of weeks and months, these people pursue improvement for years and decades.  I recently posted an article about a guy who is 101 years old that has been training for 70 years. Can you guess which game he’s playing?

My advice for you the reader is to look at where you’re going and what game you’re playing. There are certain objectives that you may be pursuing as finite that would be better served on the infinite plan. Marriage, finances, and nutrition make better sense in the infinite category. As far as recreation goes, decide what you want to do forever and consider applying the infinite mindset to those pursuits. Some practices you enjoy for a season of life and some things become a way of life. You can’t win at longevity if you can’t stay in the game.

Ron Bogart1 Comment