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Finite and Infinite Perspectives


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Finite and Infinite Perspectives

on Power

Our basic assumptions about power have a profound impact on our behavior and conse­quently our personal and professional success. The chart below outlines the consequences of viewing power as scarce—the Finite Perspective, or abundant—the Infinite Perspective. Too often we automatically chose the finite perspective with its inherent power-limiting conse­quences. With the awareness offered, you can begin to more consciously chose the Infinite Perspective with its expansive potential if and only if it is appropriate to the situation at hand.



The Finite Perspective The Infinite Perspective


Fundamental supposition: Power is scarce. Fundamental supposition: Power is abundant.
A zero-sum, win/lose game. A positive-sum, win/win game.
The purpose of playing a finite game is to The purpose of playing an infinite game is to

establish a winner. continue and maintain play of the game.


Playing finitely easily evokes defence of self- Playing infinitely evokes cooperation, open-

esteem and identity. Deception and secrecy ness, and compassion from insisting that

become strategies of choice. everyone must win including oneself.
This is a game that is played very seriously This is a game to be played well-even play-

because our survival is perceived as at fully—because our self-esteem or sense of

stake. identity is not at stake.
Differences are used to define who is winner Differences are valued and safe. As the only

and who is loser. Differences are, therefore, source of learning, differences stimulate

threatening. Conformity is safe. curiosity, creativity, and synergy.
As players, we freely choose to play finitely As players, we freely choose to play

although we often lose sight of there being infinitely whenever we remember it as

an alternative. a possibility.
"Power is scarce" is a self-fulfilling, win/lose "Power is abundant" is a self-fulfilling, win/win

prophecy because partnerships are temporary prophecy because potential partnerships

and finite in number. are secure and infinite in number.

The finite perspective is the paradigm of The infinite perspective is the paradigm of

of choice only when physical survival is a choice when growth and learning are primary

moment-to-moment issue. goals.


The win/lose of the finite perspective always becomes lose/lose whenever one’s sense of self-esteem or identity is all that is at stake and actual physical survival is not.

Adapted from Power, the Infinite Game by Michael F. Broom, Ph.D. and Donald C. Klein, Ph.D. Rev. 6/02


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