Is Your World Scarce or Abundant?
Can I have “seconds”? The dangers of a scarcity mindset
Carol Dweck is a psychology professor at Stanford University and in 2006 she published a great book about attitude – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The big takeaway from her groundbreaking research was that those who flourish inherently understand that neuroplasticity is a real thing. We can change, we are designed to change. When we take this philosophical approach to life we are filled with hope and promise and each new day brings unlimited opportunity.
Dweck refers to this as a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset and it can be best summarized as follows:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
We ask ourselves often “why did I sign up for this?”
We signed up for this because we have courage. We will do the work others cannot do, or don’t want to do. We embrace failure and learn from mistakes. Everything is part of the journey and setbacks are lessons in disguise. We will bounce back – we’ve done it before. We are battle-tested warriors. Bring it, all of it!
Which voice do you hear? Well, it depends on your mindset. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? In other words, is your world scarce or abundant?
Our team believes wholeheartedly in the capacity for massive change, which in and of itself is an abundance choice. It does take time and practice, however, to change and the danger of the scarcity mindset is that it has very deep roots and wiring that was initiated early in our lives. Re-wiring the human brain takes time and cannot be completed in one lunar cycle.
Was anyone reprimanded by parents for taking long showers because that means you were wasting hot water (money)? Was anyone chastised for leaving a door open too long and asked “do you think I am heating the backyard”? Did anyone have to ask for “second” before eating more food? Did anyone hide toys from siblings? Was anyone afraid to play a sport because of fear of an injury?
These things can lead to a scarcity mindset and it is dangerous in our professional lives.
In the revenue-generating world, we all have had that teammate who refers to “my leads” like he or she owns them. This is a bizarre concept. A person is hired by an established company with decades of history and lots and lots of resources – property, equipment, software, hardware, cash, human capital, etc. He works in a sales role and is assigned a territory. With that territory comes some businesses that are already clients and some others that are not yet clients. He refers to these other businesses as things he possesses… “my leads”.
This is a problem – a big one. Accountability and ownership is good. We want teammates to own their responsibilities, always, but the mindset of possessing some finite set of things that are not yours – in this case, other companies – is very dangerous. Those companies don’t belong to you and you certainly don’t own them. This is scarcity at work.
Here is abundance at work. I am so grateful – today and every day – that this company has the confidence and trust in me to try and build and maintain relationships with these companies. I take this very seriously and I am so humbled and honored that the company is asking me to represent our brand. I am so fortunate that my parents paid for me to get a great education. I could never have this opportunity if I was not so blessed. For these reasons today, I am going to give such a great effort to make progress with these companies. I want to help them run better businesses and I want to set the bar high with my effort, and maybe even inspire my teammates. If I don’t have success with these companies hopefully someone else on my team can.
Do you see the difference?
At the core of the scarcity mindset is fear. I don’t have enough. There are very limited resources and if I don’t hoard these that I have today I will be in worse shape in the future, for I will be without. This is a sad way to live and yet most of us do this to a degree. We all say we don’t care what other people think and this is a lie. We do. We say we don’t compare what we have to what others have but this is a lie. We do. We measure success with stuff and material goods. Be honest, we do. And when we do this we will never, ever have enough and the vicious cycle is endless.
Most of us search for inspiration and self-improvement and we get it in different ways. Studying those who have achieved our definition of success is something we all should do, and it is great practice. We learn many things about successful people. They get up early. They have a tremendous purpose and focus. They are resilient.
They also practice gratitude. Many do this in a very formal way with writing in a gratitude journal each and every day, starting with simple things. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for my wonderful family. I am grateful to have food. I am grateful for shelter. I am grateful my company gives me an opportunity to provide for my family.
This is really quite simple. When we focus on what we have – rather than what we don’t have – we create a mindset of abundance. We really do have so, so much right in front of us every day. When we see this and we feel this and we live this everything starts to flow. We are relaxed. We are happy. We are confident. We play free. We exude confidence, peace, happiness, and even… love. And when we live this way everything works out for the best – in every aspect of our lives. Even generating revenue for this wonderful company that employs me and gives me such fantastic opportunities.