EPISODE 21: Overcoming pornography is a game

Feb 10, 2020

Artwork for podcast Overcome Pornography: The Self Mastery Podcast

Becoming the person you want to be is an infinite game.

-      Finite and infinite games are an interesting subject

-      I was listening to simon sinek and he talked about the difference between the two.

-      Finite games have set numbers of players, specific rules and an end point.

-      Infinite games have rules that may change, the number of players may change and the purpose of an infinite game is to keep the game going.

-      One night while traveling home from a single adult activity when my pornography use was weighing on me heavily, I looked out at the dark road and the distance ahead and felt a deep longing to be better.

-      As the highway hummed along under me and the solitude of the car pulled my thoughts deeper into my actions I prayed as earnestly as I knew how that if I could just not have this one problem, I would be a pretty amazing person.

-      What I didn’t see from that point in my life that I see so clearly now, is that becoming the person I want to be is not an arrival at some particular set of attributes

-      It involves so much more than that.

-      To become great at life we have to stop thinking about what we are doing in terms of arriving at an end

-      We have to think of long term, continued, and sustainable growth and learning.

-      So how does an infinite game work and how can you become a great player becoming the best version of your self that you can be. 

-      Five things have to happen to play in the infinite game according to simon.

-      1. You have to have a just cause.

-      2. You have to have trust in teams

-      3. You have to have a worthy adversary

-      4. You have to have existential flexibility

-      5. You have to have the courage to lead


1 – just cause – you have to have a cause that is so just, right, or important that you would willingly sacrifice for it.

-      As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints there is a lot of moral guidance about the cause we work for.

-      Eternal life is a just cause that we look to willingly sacrifice for.

-      An eternal family is another.

-      The just cause for most of us is our desire to be in concert with our Heavenly Father. 

-      We believe that is the most important thing we can do, because we believe that it will bring joy into our lives.

-      There are lots of great just causes. The work you do could be considered a just cause.

-      The United states was founded on a just cause – it is about an ideal, so amazing, so important that we may never achieve the ideal in this life, but we will give our all to it while we can.

-      This is what give’s us purpose. The striving toward an ideal. Sacrificing for a greater state of goodness.

-       Simon talks about it this way, he says, “imagine a world that is different than the one we have now, that you believe if everything that you did in your organization went perfectly, that you would contribute to the building of that world.”

-      Moroni or Ether not sure if Moroni is just quoting Ether here or inserting his commentary on what Ether wrote but this is what he said, “…whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God”

-      So, for those of us who are constantly striving to become masters of self and build up who we are into the best version of the person we are, we are striving toward that vision of “a better world”

-      That is why we work to give up our addictive behaviors, why we strive to teach our children the gospel, why we accept callings at church that we don’t feel qualified to do or that we simply don’t want to do. 


Number 2 – Trusting teams

-      This one as Simon explained it did not have a readily apparent application for those of us working to become masters of self. 

-      As I listened, however, I saw some clear patterns of requirement parallels between the business world that Simon talks about and our home lives.

-      Just recently one of our children had been granted a privilege that I don’t think they merited.

-      Immediately that child abused the privilege, like within 15 minutes. 

-      Previously I would have probably laid into the kid. 

-      Told them their behavior was unacceptable and removed the privilege and really gotten upset.

-      However, over the last few years, I have been seeing this child as someone who needs to be trusted even though they make mistakes, because if I don’t teach them to trust they will not rise above their current level of behavior.

-      Simon talks about this as the trust in teams that we all need to have to play the infinite game well. 

-      We need to create and foster a team atmosphere within our lives and specifically within ourselves that does not lose it’s cool or ostracize those who make mistakes.

-      That includes ourselves. 

-      Beating yourself up is not usually helpful. 

-      That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences, it just means that treating yourself or others as irredeemable because of a mistake that was made creates an atmosphere where you begin to lose at the infinite game

-      Rather, accepting people and recognizing that they are truly doing their best will foster greater love and acceptance as well as give everyone around you a self driving thrust to be better

-      I don’t think this child should have this privilege. I don’t really want to police this privilege because it is more energy than I want to spend on the issue. 

-      But recognizing that I am playing an infinite game where growth and learning are more important than rules and Arriving, I felt that it was important to re-entrust this child with the privilege for his sake

-      There are consequences for the abuse of privilege, but there isn’t a sense that the person is irredeemable, broken or wrong.

-      This, in the long run, creates that sense of control and decision making that we all need to become better at who we want to be. 

-      Partly I do this for myself. I want to be able to trust them. I want to have them as part of my life team in a way that I believe I can trust them.

-      Same goes for our own behaviors. When we work to ask ourselves, what can I do to make my life and the lives of those around me better?

-      Rather than, berating ourselves and hating ourselves for slipping up and saying to ourselves we are broken because we weren’t perfect

-      We create a loving, team environment that we and those around us want to be a part of.

-      That is the kind of place where people can say that they are messing up and they need help and help will always be given.


-      That is the kind of thing people will sacrifice their time, talents and energy to perpetuate. 

-      Because it allows people to exercise their agency to be themselves, even if that means that they sometimes mess up. But when they mess up, we still love them. 

-      That is why that is winning at the infinite game.

-      And we have to trust ourselves as well. In the same way we trust others, build them up and believe that they are doing their best, we have to believe the same about ourselves.

-      When we do, we can look at our mistakes objectively and without shame and figure out better ways to move forward with our lives.


Number 3 – worthy rival

-      I think by this point you can see that the only true competitor in an infinite game is yourself.

-      Lasting as long as you can and being the best version of you is not about any one except you.

-      Brooke Castillo talks about doing things because she wants to see how much she can get done and how far she can take her growth. 

-      That is the purpose of the infinite game.

-      Simon talks, however, about a worthy rival

-      You know what this looks like if, in your life, you have that friend or family member that you love dearly and you are always trying to be as good as they are in your life. 

-      Hopefully they feel the same way as you

-      But you look up to them, strive to be amazing like them, and you are constantly trying to out do them. 

-      The key here is that Seeking out their competition makes you better not bitter.

-      Sometimes that will be an older person who drops out of the game before you, sometimes that will be a peer, sometimes it will be a younger person you get to admire as they grow.

-      What you have to remember is that this is about sharing, helping, growing – not hoarding, undermining, and shrinking your competition.

-      Number 4 – the capacity for existential flexibility

-      I have to say, when simon started talking about this, I had to look up existential and I still didn’t know what he was saying.

-      After working through it a couple of times, What I believe he is talking about is flexibility to adapt to the changing world in order to continue to exist and keep playing the game.

-      For companies that means being able to innovate and change as times do. 

-      One example of this is Kodak.

-      If you are not familiar with Kodak, they used to make film, then they discovered the digital camera.  

-      Then, for 10 years, they buried the technology.

-      They chose to keep it all under wraps until someone else figured it out rather than become the market leader and an innovator. 

-      Kodak went bankrupt because of that decision.

-      In our personal lives, what I take this to mean is that we need to be ever growing, learning, and building on our life experiences in such a way that we play as long and as well as we can.

-      For those of us who believe in eternal life, this is us living and growing to live the high standards we set for ourselves, so we can return and live with our Father in heaven.

-      Here simon talks about blowing up companies for the sake of innovation, but what does that look like for an individual .

-      Being willing to change your whole identity is enormously difficult as a person. 

-      I was coaching a woman recently who as she thought about a major shift in her career, “I don’t want this to be our identity”

-      Simon sinek makes the argument that for businesses to be the best they can, they must be willing to be flexible enough to change their entire identity. Kodak going from a film company to a digital camera company for instance.

-      I would argue, that to live your best life, you must be willing to change your entire self image and what you believe others image of you is.

-      You have to be willing to go from, zach Spafford, insurance guy, to zach Spafford LDS life coach for men and women with addictive behaviors, including pornography.

-      In fact, this was one of my biggest struggles in deciding to talk about my difficulty with pornography. 

-      This wouldn’t just be my job, this would be my identity. Something that I can’t escape on vacation and something that will follow me everywhere.

-      The risks are enormous, including money wise.

-      But the rewards are innumerable and extraordinary, including money wise.


-      Number 5 - You have to have the courage to lead

-      In true leadership, even without titles or positions, we prioritize people over every other motivation.

-      This courage to lead, in our own lives, is where these principles come together.

-      Imagine how difficult it is to make an existential change with your just cause in mind

-      Some of you don’t have to imagine.

-      My wife, for instance, had one of those moments in her life, where she found and then joined the church of jesus Christ of latter-day saints.

-      She did this at great personal cost – her family wasn’t allowed to be at our wedding in the Chicago temple. 

-      For someone who had, their whole life, dreamed of having their father walk her down the isle, this was a tremendous blow.

-      Not only would Jim, my father in law not walk her down the aisle, not a single member of her family except darcy’s sister in law michelle would be at the temple on our wedding day. 

-      But she did it because she believed at the time that it was the best way forward and it was the way she would build her capacity to become the person she wanted to be.

-      Courage is also the place where we leave our need and desire to be right and are willing to admit to ourselves and to others that we don’t know what we are doing and that we need help.

-      When we can admit to ourselves that we aren’t the person we want to be, yet, that is where we begin to see a path forward to becoming that person.

-      That courage to lead is really more about honesty to others and one’s self than it is about almost any other thing. 

-      Rather than hunkering down in how right you are and, often by default, how wrong something or someone else is, being able to admit you may be wrong and objectively adjusting your views will do more for you than anything else on this list.

-      It is also the most difficult thing to do.

-      Partly because when we admit that we are wrong, deep down, we think that it means something about us that makes us a terrible person.

-      But those of us who practice the art of being wrong on purpose, find that it is pretty liberating. 

-      It also makes people more willing to listen to you. 



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