Over dinner the other night, I told my business partner Mark — who also happens to be my husband — that I was concerned that my work was becoming my identity. He and I had pressed the reset button on our electrical contracting business two years ago, a change which included my majority ownership stake in the company and promotion to CEO. Overnight, R Squared Electric went from busy to the subject of most conversations and thoughts between us.
“What would you say is your identity?” he asked.
After a pensive pause, I offered him and I both a vague yet truthful answer: “I deliver value, I suppose. I try to be a responsible steward of the resources, and a good decision-maker. I try to do the next right thing”.
During the conversation that ensued, we talked about why we run R Squared: to grow a business that is a trusted partner for all stakeholders with whom we work, and which creates wealth as a downstream effect rather than the primary purpose. How we work hard now so that we can do what we want later when we aren’t working. But what do we want to do when we aren’t working anymore?
When we ask ourselves the right questions, they beget more questions. And when I think about having an infinite mindset, I definitely have more questions than answers. According to Simon Sinek in The Infinite Game, infinite-minded people revel in surprises and are existentially flexible. I revel in structure and prioritized execution, which sounds pretty finite to me. Sinek posits that there’s no winners (ergo no status) in the Infinite Game; yet when we exit our company, isn’t that a pretty big win? Am I playing the game right?
I’ve been mulling-over something Mark said that night: “R Squared is your classroom, not your identity”. Thinking back, my answer to his question isn’t my identity, but it’s what I do. Lessons I keep learning. R Squared Electric isn’t the end game nor the identity, but a subject being taught where we apply lessons learned.
We don’t have it figured out, the goals are ever-changing, and the targets move several times per month despite my chronic attempts to arrange and keep them in their own Bento boxes. Living with an infinite mindset is a perpetual reminder of the constant learning and evolution that is.
The essential questions I’ve come to ask myself are:
- Where and for whom can I deliver value today?
- In what way can I be a responsible caretaker of the resources I’m given to use?
- How can I make a good decision at this moment?
And when in doubt, I try my damndest to follow the advice of St Ignatius of Loyola to just do the next right thing.