“When people are genuinely happy at the success of others, the pie gets larger.” — Stephen Covey
We all use various filters as a way to process what goes on in our worlds. These filters are based on core beliefs, and usually, they are applied subconsciously, without us evening noticing.
Although it sounds like a really subtle, small thing – it turns out those beliefs and filters can have a huge impact on our lives.
Here’s a quick example: Imagine you are a business owner or a salesperson, and a new prospect sets up a meeting with you. They’re interested in what you’re selling and they would make a great new client, but they ultimately end up not choosing you.
Your beliefs directly impact how you will approach the meeting and how you’ll feel about it afterward. Let’s just look at this through one filter: Scarcity vs. Abundance.
If you have a core belief of scarcity — that there aren’t enough clients to go around — then you’re likely going to go into this meeting with a lot of underlying stress, and you’re going to push a lot harder and do the best you can to force a successful close. Because if you fail, then you’ve lost one of the very few precious clients that are out there, and your business or your career is going to be even more of a struggle than it has been.
Alternatively, if you have a core belief of abundance, then you believe there are more than enough prospective clients to go around. You still want to land this client, but there’s not a lot of stress or pressure. You can take the time to engage them and really see things from their point of view and honestly communicate that you would love to help them but that they need to make the decision that’s best for them.
If you fail, it’s still disappointing but it’s ultimately not a big deal. It becomes a learning exercise and you will look at how you handled things and use that to get better next time.
It’s the exact same situation in both cases – potential new client who doesn’t choose to work with you – but two very different outcomes and attitudes. Over time, those differences will have a huge impact on where you end up.
Scarcity vs. Abundance
Because it’s so fundamental, the scarcity vs. abundance filter has a huge impact on our actions, our relationships and how we approach challenges.
If you truly believe there’s not enough to go around, then it makes sense that each precious opportunity is a potential life-or-death situation. If you’re not winning, you’re losing, and the only way to win is for others to lose (which is where you start impacting relationships).
Your stress levels go up exponentially with any failure, and it becomes more and more difficult to move on without dwelling on the failures.
But if you truly believe there is enough to go around, then things open up in a lot of different ways. You still want to win, but you can recognize the difference between a short-term win at any cost versus a long-term winning situation where you’ve learned and grown along the way.
But here’s the part that may not be obvious. You get to choose which of those beliefs you want to hold – and therefore which of those outcomes and attitudes you end up having.
Not to get too metaphysical on you, but neither one of those beliefs – scarcity or abundance — are necessarily true. They are a perspective that you take on what’s happening in the world around you. A viable, logical argument can be made for either side of the coin – but that doesn’t really matter because you’re not choosing to decide what the world really is. You’re choosing to decide how you want to see the world!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this choice is an easy thing to make. Your fundamental core belief of scarcity or abundance is initially formed subconsciously based on your environment, your upbringing, the opinions of friends and family, and it’s been solidified over many years. So changing that belief isn’t something that’s done lightly, but it can be done.
Ultimately, it’s a choice – and once you realize that you have a choice, then you can work on making it.
3 ways to choose abundance thinking
- Remind yourself that there’s enough to go around // Consciously spend time every day looking for positive opportunities, especially in the challenges that you face. It will take some time, but if you do this consistently, it will become a habit and second nature to you.
- Be aware and selective about who you spend time with // Mindsets and beliefs are contagious — are you spending time with people who are lifting you up or with those who are negative and selfish?
- Practice gratitude // Being grateful for what you have naturally leads to more abundant thinking. Consider keeping a gratitude journal for a month or two and write down three things you’re grateful for every day.
This isn’t a new idea – Stephen Covey is widely credited with coining the terms Abundance and Scarcity mentality in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People back in 1989. Since then, studies and experiences have shown tremendous benefits (tangible and intangible) to adopting an abundance mentality.
It takes an ongoing effort, and it’s not an easy thing to adopt and keep, but it’s definitely worth trying.
What’s your experience with this kind of thinking? When’s the last time you thought about abundance or scarcity and how it applied to you?
Shawn Kinkade, Kansas City Business Coach