Generally speaking, according to Merriam-Webster, abundance is indicative of an ample quantity, plentifulness, and/or wealth, while scarcity is a deficiency in quantity, a supply shortage, basically a lack of abundance. Right – they are opposites. This is true not only when referring to material things, but also when speaking about mindsets (“the established set of attitudes held by someone”).
You may have come across this concept by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey’s classic work. He believes people see life either through the lens of scarcity or through the lens of abundance. With a filter of abundance, there is always more of everything in life; a scarcity-minded person is always living in fear of losing money, time, possessions, and/or relationships.
Thinking of life as a pie, people with a scarcity mindset think there’s only so much to go around. If someone gets a bigger slice, someone else gets a smaller slice, or no slice at all – consequently, they may try to hoard resources, withhold knowledge, resist collaboration, and fear change to the point of paralysis. You can see how this attitude is primarily about one’s own interest and, ultimately, about getting as much of the pie as possible for one’s self.
On the opposite side of the coin, to paraphrase Covey, people with an abundance mindset believe not only is there enough pie to go around, but we all can have seconds. These people are generous with their knowledge and support, collaborative, trusting and trustworthy, and they understand that risk is a necessary part of growth. They are optimistic and adaptable, thus happier because the lens through which they see life is win-win.
Which one of these attitudes truly leads to success? Consider that even if you get your slice of the pie with a scarcity mindset, you will always be afraid of losing it, so won’t even enjoy the accomplishment. By not thinking “there’s always next time,” you will keep your goals small and may miss out on rewarding adventures in many areas of life, from something as simple as travel to work promotions and relationships.
Thinking things are in short supply can lead to extreme competitiveness, which tends to come across quite negatively, and could leave you isolated and lonely. Really, success is not always a one-person job. Constantly holding back because you feel intimidated, or fear someone will “steal your thunder,” can impact relationships across-the-board. You will not come across as authentic and, again, may end up unexpectedly alone. Think of theatrical productions, orchestras and many sports activities: being on a team can be fun and rewarding.
Ultimately, existing in a self-made ocean of negativity perpetuates it, reinforces it, and is self-fulfilling. Frustration and disappointment are inevitable, no matter how well others think you are doing.
If you suspect you gravitate towards a scarcity mindset first try practising gratitude on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to seek out new experiences; keep your eye on your ultimate goal and be assured that even “failing” can contribute to success in the end. Be generous with what you can, perhaps knowledge if not time and money, and keep looking for the “silver lining” where you perceive only negativity.
Another good way to develop an abundance mindset is to share your experiences within a community of others who are also embracing this concept. Come join us on Facebook where we all look forward to new insights and connections. You can find the Facebook group by clicking here.