Forget About the Pie!

It’s all a zero sum game, isn’t it? There’s only one pie, and everyone has to split it, right? For me to get a bigger slice, I have to take some pie from you.



Yet we act out fixed-pie thinking daily in our institutions, careers, and relationships.

We grade on a curve, even if most everyone in the class did well on the exam. Someone has to be at the bottom so another can be at the top. We can’t let too many people receive an A — or an F, for that matter.

How else will we label the smartest and dumbest?

We schmooze a client away from another company. We work hard to get one of the few raises that year. We compete against coworkers to get the credit and the sale and the face-time with the boss. If we get more market share, then our competitor gets less.

How else will we know who is the most successful?

We attack others to throw mud on them. We hope making them look bad makes us look good. One word — gossip. In order for us to feel good about ourselves, we have to make others feel awful. Oh well.

How else will we put ourselves on a platform?

Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception explains the difference between finite and infinite games. Finite games have one winner and many losers, like sports. They are competitive and driven by market share.

Infinite games have unlimited winners. They are cooperative and focus on learning and growth. Though some will have more to show from it, everyone has the ability to win. We do much better by helping each other. Each advancement by another player shifts the whole playing field forward.

Let’s start displacing finite games with infinite ones.

What would happen if you stopped competing and started cooperating?