Scarcity vs. Abundance: Which Way Do You Lead?

There’s an irony that comes with the scarcity mindset. When we see the world through the eyes of scarcity, we extract, consume, hoard or pillage more than we actually need — and we begin to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of actual scarcity on our planet. From your experience, have you found this to be true?

We do it in business all the time. Organizations try to save their way to prosperity. Take the newspaper industry, for example. Many newspaper companies essentially killed their products through savings. They saved themselves right out of business.

Think about what allowed Microsoft and Apple to compete. Microsoft wouldn’t share code. Apple would. Microsoft had a scarcity mentality. Apple had an abundance mentality. Which one do you believe put the biggest dent in the universe?

The equation of investment versus expense is always there. When do I spend ahead of the market and when do I manage to cost? Do I believe for every dollar I put into business development that I can garner $2 or more?

A person with a scarcity mentality doesn’t invest in the business. They hoard cash. A person who comes from an abundance mentality believes the pie can get bigger. They don’t believe it’s possible to save their way to prosperity. Instead, they believe in growing the way to prosperity.

Attempting to save your way to prosperity will ultimately lead to your demise. Continually cutting costs eventually impacts the quality of your product and service. There is a point at which a dollar of savings produces $5 in lost sales. Customers reach a point at which the service just isn’t worth what they’re paying for.

In the scarcity mindset, many people believe getting the most value from vendors or employees means paying the lowest price — just as giving the most value to the customer means being the cheapest in the marketplace. How does this play out in the organization?

The big question is: “Does our work have meaning beyond the value of the dollar?” When an employee is passionate and committed about her work, as long as the basic compensation needs are met, there comes a point when more money doesn’t make her work harder, more committed or try harder. She’s already completely engaged. More money can’t make more engagement because there is nothing else she can give.

On the flip side, there are way too many employees who are living in the scarcity mindset — they hate their job. They’re aggravated with the roles they’re playing, but they stay for money and benefits.

Zig Ziglar summed up the abundance mindset with his statement: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”. How does abundance present itself in an organization?

The abundance mindset is about being in service to others. It’s not about serving others to get something ― that’s not authentic and true service. People can see the difference. Never underestimate that a lack of authenticity isn’t being picked up on by the people around you. No matter how smart you think you are — or how good you think you’re pulling it off, people know.

To be in genuine service to others is to open yourself up to real disappointment in how that service is received, perceived or even abused. Some people see humility and a true honest attempt to help. Others see it as weak or suspect. Another may see it as a meal ticket. If someone shows up and bends the world differently, people doubt their genuineness, because it just doesn’t happen very often.

From where I stand, I believe there’s a lot of truth in the idea of “If you want something, give it away.” Basically, the more you give, the more you receive. There’s seems to be a direct connection between other people being successful and your being successful. You build a network of people who trust you and it’s about “me helping other people”—not just about “me helping me”. There’s a big difference there.

If I’m really in service to other people, what I give comes back in multiples. Communities reward people who are in service. To be fair, serving others will also slap you in the face. Sometimes no good deed goes unpunished. Certainly, it’s not always rosy. If you’re really in service, you need to be comfortable not receiving anything in return.

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