One of my earliest memories of selfishness is when my dad gave me a stick of gum and asked me to share it with my sister. I took 3/4s of it and gave her the rest. (Sorry, Jenni.)
I was probably 5 years old then.
What motivated my selfishness? I’m sure it was a scarcity mindset. I assumed there was no more gum left and thought I’d take all I could get.
Self-interest and Scarcity
I’d like to think that I’m a more abundant thinker as an adult, but I’m not perfect. My scarcity mindset runs strong when situations like these occur:
- I feel resources are scarce – when there’s a last seat on the airplane and I’m on standby with a dozen others.
- There’s low trust in a relationship – and if I give, I’m not sure what I will get in return.
- I’m at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – when I’m tired or sick, I’m not thinking about others.
Sometimes a scarcity mindset isn’t bad – we’re hardwired to self-defend. Yet, in other scenarios, self-preservation can limit our ability to build relationships, promote teamwork, and serve those around us.
Abundant vs. Scarcity
In his groundbreaking book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey introduced the idea of an abundant mindset. He shares that this mindset, which is a choice, holds the belief that there are enough resources and successes to share with others. And, when we think about how we can use our gifts to better the lives of those around us, we win. The wins, also, can be far, far bigger when we work collectively
An example? I like to think of a friend and mentor of mine, Wendy Steele – she’s the creator of Impact 100. She launched her organization when she realized that as generous as women can be, our generosity is limited when we don’t coordinate and collaborate with others. She’s pioneered giving circles globally, which is where women pool their resources, like $1000 checks, and give to non-profit organizations. A random $1000 check makes little impact on a non-profit. But 100 $1000 checks? That level of investment can promote lasting, sustainable, transformative change.
How To Create an Abundant Mindset
What does an abundant mindset look like in your world? Here are some ideas:
- When a decision doesn’t have to be made at that moment, collaborate with a few colleagues to get their input. Being open to collaboration, especially when it’s not necessary, could be valuable and spark a greater “win.”
- Share a job posting on LinkedIn or forward along a friend’s resume (with glowing remarks)!
- When someone’s name is brought up in a meeting, and they’re not there, be an advocate and supporter of them in their absence.
- Stop keeping score – rather than getting mad at others for what you view as a deficiency or problem, consider what they’re giving you is actually their best … and their best has value.
- Share generously – like credit for a job well done, or even a stick of gum!! ☺
Our mindset is our choice. If you find yourself feeling the pressure of scarcity, make a point to challenge your instincts and think of how you can think differently and, in doing so, act abundantly. Your commitment to thinking broader and more collaboratively allows you to build lasting relations that allow the trust to thrive.