Finite and Infinite Perspectives
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.
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