Posts Tagged 'intrinsic value'

Infinite Game


Short term thinking sometimes causes us to betray ourselves in the long run. It could be from making a bad, if convenient or safe decision. Often it’s from making no decision. How long is the long run? It’s hard to know, and seems to depend a lot on context. Some people tend to measure the world in flashes, and they’re happy to do something they call generous for a few seconds, as long as they get a payback before a few minutes up. More common and more celebrated are people who play a longer game. They build an asset, earn trust, give before getting, and then, after paying their dues, win.

There’s something else available, though, something called an infinite game.

In finite games (short and long) there are players, there are rules and there are winners. The game is based on an outcome and is designed to end. In the infinite game something completely different is going on. The point is to keep playing, not to win. In the infinite game, the journey is all there is. And so, players in an infinite game never stop giving so they can take. Players in this game throw a slower pitch so the batter can hit it, because a no-hitter shutout has no real upside.

A good mom, of course, always plays the infinite game. But it’s possible to build an organization or even a society that does this as well. Build hospitals and schools instead of forts and barricades…

You probably know people who play this game. You may well have been touched by them, inspired by them and taught by them. The wrong question to ask is, “but how do they win?” The right way to understand it is, “is it worth playing?”


cannedWhen our desire and need for simplicity and efficiency replaces authentic human interaction we betray ourselves. Of course nobody is fooled. That’s not even the question. The perfunctory gestures of a polite society help connote a mood of civility. But in order to work, we must care enough to make them authentically.

Of course, it is far better for both parties to engage genuinely. Without that it all races to the zero of noise in the background that, given how busy we all are, isn’t only not needed, but actually becomes a nuisance. And transitions to a burden: “do I have to acknowledge these people?” Maybe you could write a subroutine for it. Let the computers talk to each other!

It’s no wonder we feel more alone than ever, even though we have far more input than ever.

The Specter of Dating


It’s interesting how many people who are in long-term relationships bring up the foreboding idea of dating as one of their first, or even main, concerns about not being in those relationships any longer. And when they bring it up, most of us quickly agree.

Is dating really that bad, or is the fear more about feeling alone? Regardless it seems like a pretty lame rationalization for staying in a relationship. There may be good reasons, but why does this one come up so often? I submit that if this is one of the first things you think about then you need to take a step back and seriously evaluate what’s going on with you.

Choosing the option that sucks less is not the greatest recipe for a happy and fulfilled life. This thought process leads to the risky area of daring to believe you deserve to be happy, and can be happy. How is your self-esteem?

Nobody ever said being self-aware would be easy.



Your purpose is what you are constructed for. Constructed – as in built, wired, crafted. Your unique way of thinking and acting.

Many get confused and believe purpose is made from what is liked, or what one happens to be good at. Being good at something is a clue, but there is more to purpose than just having an aptitude and interest. It’s even more than passion. Purpose includes the assessment of where you can make the most difference. The stuff that’s on the top shelf of your capabilities. You may not even be good at it yet, but you will be, because you will stay in the game in spite of signs to the contrary, even when you get decked.

In 1988 Steve Jobs was in the wilderness, having been fired from the company he started. But while he may have initially set out to make some computers, his true vision started to come into focus. He believed computers are for the people. He saw a world with thousands of users versus one computer a 1000 times more powerful. That was his purpose. He was relentless about it.

It’s not about how grand your purpose is. It can be small. It’s big to you, and that’s what counts. Start by figuring out what you’re unwilling to give up on. Within those things there is one that you actually shouldn’t let go of. Part of life is figuring that out. Difficult. It may even require some trial and error. That process is important to recognizing the real deal when you find it.

Personal Note — Why Publish it?


I love provocative questions. They invariably trigger growth and better self awareness. I am fortunate to have a few friends who can lay one on me from time to time.

Why publish a blog or photographs I take? Why release music I work on? Not, why do I write it, but why publish it? The intrinsic value in most creative outlets is what makes them worth doing…isn’t it? So why publish?

It has to be for some type of validation, no? But I don’t get much validation on these things. Hardly anyone reads this blog, or cares to listen to any music I work on, or anything else. That doesn’t detract from it, and in some ways can be an advantage.

Why tell someone how you really feel when it can complicate things?

The reason is because when you hold it all inside you rob yourself of any chance to connect. You’re safer that way in most respects, because not as much can happen. In fact very little can happen. When you put it out there the possibilities are virtually endless. One genuine connection, or one instance of giving someone something that helps them makes it all worth it.

All that work; all that emotional energy to maybe make one little dent in the world. It hardly seems worth it…until you see that light come on somewhere.

Besides, artists are suffering anyway. There’s no way to not create it. It’s just a matter of whether one wants to go it all alone.




Suffering Through Art


Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak — and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. There’s often angst of one type or another behind any great art.

The rest of us get to benefit from their suffering.

There can be some intrinsic value to suffering. The psychology of post-traumatic growth suggests that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and — most importantly for creativity — seeing new possibilities in life.

Then there is the art.

Check out this link. It’s a less than three minute interview snip with Phil Collins from 2007 about a song he wrote circa 1979 in the band Genesis (listen all the way to the end) around the time his marriage was breaking up. The ad hoc performance is a little raw, but that only goes to further illustrate the point. The song was nearly 20 years old at this time and the pain is still evident. Guilt and regret hanging over someone who has been staggeringly successful by nearly any measure one can put on it. Phil and others have made careers out of suffering through their art.

But sometimes there is just the art. And sometimes there is just the suffering.


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