Is it a game that has an end to it or does it never really end?
In his book Finite and Infinite Games, James P. Carse lays out two different types of games that people play.
Says Wikipedia of this:
Finite games have a definite beginning and ending. They are played with the goal of winning. A finite game is resolved within the context of its rules, with a winner of the contest being declared and receiving a victory. The rules exist to ensure the game is finite. Examples are debates, sports, receiving a degree from an educational institution, belonging to a society, or engaging in war. Beginning to participate in a finite game requires conscious thought, and is voluntary; continued participation in a round of the game is involuntary. Even exiting the game early must be provided for by the rules. This may be likened to a zero-sum game (though not all finite games are literally zero sum, in that the sum of positive outcomes can vary).
Infinite games, on the other hand, do not have a knowable beginning or ending. They are played with the goal of continuing play and sometimes with a purpose of bringing more players into the game. An infinite game continues play, for the sake of play. If the game is approaching resolution because of the rules of play, the rules must be changed to allow continued play. The rules exist to ensure the game is infinite. The only known example is life. Beginning to participate in an infinite game may be involuntary, in that it doesn’t require conscious thought. Continuing participation in the current round of game-play is voluntary. “It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely” (p. 4). Boundaries are “rules” that one must stay within when playing a finite game, in contrast with horizons, which move with the player, and are constantly changing as he or she “plays.”
I suggest that one of the main reasons people struggle with niching is because niching is, in reality, an infinite game but they are trying to play it as a finite one.
People struggle with niching because they are looking for an end point to it and there isn’t one. They are looking for the moment of victory and yet it remains fugitive. They are trying to win and yet victory eludes them.
Stephen Jenkinson speaks of the difference between fighting and wrestling or dancing. When you fight someone, the goal is to win. When you wrestle, you’re trying to get better at wrestling. When you dance with someone, you’re not trying to beat them, you’re both creating beauty and getting better at dancing. It’s like this with niching. The point of niching isn’t to have a niche and never think of it again, the point of niching is to get better at niching.
“For the Indigenous Soul of all people who can still remember how to be real cultures, life is a race to be elegantly run, not a race to be competitively won. It cannot be won, it is the gift of the world”s diverse beautiful motion that must be maintained… it is an obligation to engender that elegance of motion in our daily lives, in service of maintaining life by moving and living as beautifully as we can. Living and running were holy things you were supposed to get good at, not things to use to conquer, win, and get attention for. Running was not meant for taking but for giving gifts to the Holy in Nature. Running was an offering a feeding of life. By trying to feed the Holy in Nature the fruit of beauty from the tree of memory of our Indigenous Souls, grown in the composted failures of our past need to conquer, watered by the tears of cultural grief, we might become ancestors worth descending from and possibly grow a place of hope for a time beyond our own. … the rental rate for this gift of being allowed to flourish and reside in this continuum with the rest of the world is that we do everything possible to be indigenously beautiful, promising that we make ourselves spiritually full and delicious so as to feed the next ones to appear in the ongoing river on the occasion of our passing.”
– Martin Prechtel, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic
Your niche will never stop changing because you will keep growing and changing and so will your environment.
A stable niche is the temporary result of momentary stability within yourself and your environment.
It never lasts.
Life is always changing. Niching is our attempt to find our best role in the infinite game of Life. It’s us trying to find out where we best fit and can be of the most use. When the landscape changes, so does our niche and we must adapt to this. That’s how it is.
The better you get at niching, the faster and more adroitly you can adapt and the more likely you are to thrive.
What if, when we spoke of our niche, we considered that we are not only speaking of a place or role in the community but a skill? What if niching was a skill to hone and not a result to finally achieve and be done with?
And what if, by playing this game and honing this skill, you were creating more niche opportunities for other people?
What if by teaching your permaculture workshops and having more people know permaculture you created the possibility of more teachers? And what if more teachers meant each teacher could develop their own style and focus? And what if that meant more permaculture based business opportunities? What if it was the same in yoga?
What if you focusing on a particular thing allowed someone else to stop trying to do a half assed job of it and sending their business to you?
Niches beget more niches. Diversity begets more diversity. This never ends.
That’s how it is.