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Scarcity or Abundance?

The first time I ever heard a discussion about the scarcity mindset was when I heard Tim Sanders speak at a Global Leadership Summit. It was fascinating to me to hear a discussion putting words to the difference between people that I have observed over and over. Scarcity is the assumption of a fixed outcome, one that can’t be altered, as opposed to assuming there are many different options and ways it could happen. Each of us, every day through many individual moments, whether we realize it or not, choose a perspective of abundance versus scarcity, and what we choose has a profound impact on our happiness and fulfillment.

Abundance is having a relative degree of plentifulness, appreciating what you already have. It is believing that you have all you need in life to feel fulfilled, happy, and empowered. Abundance believes you are enough and that you will have enough. It is feeling optimism, positivity, and hopefulness in life. It enables you to soar.


Scarcity is the opposite. It is the state of being or feeling without or not having enough of something. You need something more to have a happy and fulfilled life. Often the mindset is driven by fear and anxiety. Scarcity steals your ability to feel hopeful or to envision life full of possibilities. It makes you feel like you need something else in life to feel whole and “okay.” Scarcity keeps you small and “safe.” It wipes out positive thinking and personal growth.


However you are thinking today, you can go from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset, and change your own life and your helpful impact on the people around you. Though many people have come up with varied ways to say it, the Bible was the first to record, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Research proves this time and again. Whether with athletes or children, the ones with a mindset of possibility do better. Another study at Yale and Miami on middle-aged adults revealed that those with more positive perspectives surrounding their aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging. Your mindset can even prolong your life!


Stephen Covey initially spoke of scarcity and abundance in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He said that it refers to people seeing life as a finite pie, so that if one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else. Most people in the corporate business world have been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality. It is what keeps many of us from achieving our goals. An abundance mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.


You can make this shift. I want to add a few thoughts to five suggestions Caroline Castrillon has gathered on how to do it.


1. Focus on what you have. If you’ve been thinking about a career change but haven’t taken the leap, you’re probably having thoughts like, “There aren't enough good jobs out there." "I don't have enough transferrable skills." or "Who am I kidding, there’s too much competition.” These are all ideas based on scarcity; what you don’t have. Turn those around to thoughts like, "Wow, I have 25 years of marketing experience, which will be a huge asset if I decide to start a business." or "Over the last ten years, I've made great contacts which will be essential when I start networking for my next job.” If you’ve just been laid off, instead of wallowing in self-pity, think about how great it is to finally have the time (and maybe the money if you received a severance package) to think about what you REALLY want to do with the rest of your life.


2. Choose abundance companions. Find positive people and start hanging out with them. Attitudes rub off. If you are currently surrounded by scarcity mindsets, you need a people change in order to change anything else. Most people “experts” and advisors will tell you, "The quality of a person's life is most often a direct reflection of the attitudes and perspectives of their peer group." Do you look up to the people with whom you spend time? If not, it’s a clear clue you need to search for other people who are living the life you aspire to. Choose a group of people who will make you better.


3. Create win-win situations. Scarcity believes that if one person wins, another loses. Try to create win-win conditions in your life. Look for ways for both parties to leave with a sense of accomplishment and a better feeling about the situation. Do this in both your personal and professional lives. This means listening, understanding what a win-win means for both of you, and brainstorming solutions until you find one that satisfies both parties.


4. Grow gratitude in your daily life. It’s very difficult to feel fear or sadness while at the same time feeling grateful. Practicing gratitude is one of the most widely recognized methods for improving one’s overall well-being. Expressing gratitude improves mental and physical well-being. One way to practice this is to write down three to five things you are grateful for each day. Or you can create a gratitude journal. Include even the simplest things that you might take for granted, like a comfortable mattress and good night of sleep, or a drink of cool water.


5. Train your mind to recognize the possibilities. An abundance mindset allows you to see more in your life: more options, more choices, and more resources. Ask yourself… If you had all the time and money in the world and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing? Questions like that will help to open your mind up to what’s possible. Ultimately, just remember that what you believe is what you receive.


You deliberately choose to even talk about things differently. Dan Sullivan shares that…

  • Costs become Investments

  • Incremental becomes Exponential

  • Transactions become Transformations

  • Industry/Profession becomes Market/Network

  • Clients/Customers become Multipliers

  • Products/Services become your Value-Creation Process

  • Employees become a Unique-Ability Team

  • Security becomes Opportunity

  • Status becomes Contribution

  • Lifestyle becomes Freedom

  • Management becomes Leadership

  • Retirement becomes Purpose

  • Scarcity becomes Abundance

Make the switch.

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