Moving From Scarcity to Abundance

Stephen Covey describes an abundance mindset* as, “the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.” In a world where it often feels like everything is a competition, it’s much easier to have a scarcity mindset, where we look at life as if it’s a zero-sum game — there’s only a certain amount of opportunity/power/luck/happiness/money out there, so I need to grab mine and hold onto it without sharing. The perspective of abundance is something that I hope to embody, in both the way I run my business and the way I live my life.

When I think about having an abundance mindset in my own life, it isn’t about assuming I’ll have more than I could ever need without having to work for it. Instead, it’s trusting that if I put in the work, stay committed to my vision and values, and keep going even when it gets hard, I will have what I need. When we transition from a paradigm of scarcity to one of abundance, we are more free. We are free to be generous, to say no to opportunities that don’t suit us, and to invest in long-term success.


When we look at the world through a scarcity lens, it’s easy to be greedy. With our money, with our referrals, with our ideas. This generally tends to backfire, making us more miserable and less successful. When we have an abundance mindset, we can cheer on others, to celebrate their success without feeling like someone else’s progress means I have to stall. It means we can collaborate, give to others and learn from them.

Lack of Desperation

We don’t need to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. We don’t need to take on clients who don’t respect us or align with our vision. We don’t need to say yes to work that is outside of what we are best at. With a scarcity mindset, a sense of desperation sets in and we can start to look at life as a series of potentially lost opportunities, rather than what it is: an infinite range of possibilities that we can embrace and enjoy.

Long-Term Thinking

I’ve written about this before and, honestly, I’ll probably write about it again. When we have an abundance mindset, we don’t have to cling to short-term wins. And with a long-term view of progress, we invest in self-care, we invest in our employees, we invest in the environment. We see the big picture and don’t have to be defeated if things don’t go perfectly the first time around.

Jurgen Klopp is one of my current heroes and the manager of my favorite team, Liverpool FC. This past weekend, Liverpool finished second in the Premier League with the highest ever point total for a runner up, losing to Manchester City by just one point. It was painful to have done so well, to be so close and still not win the league, but Klopp’s response to reporters after the final game beautifully captures his abundance mindset:

Liverpool’s Logo   , which will most likely be tattooed on my body at some point.

Liverpool’s Logo, which will most likely be tattooed on my body at some point.

“…we made unbelievably big steps and I really expect more to come, that’s the truth. What that means in the end, I don’t know. But if you see whatever happens to you in life as the only chance you ever had, then I feel a bit sorry for you to be honest. There’s a lot to come, a lot of years; it’s all about you and what you do with it… We will go again.”

Klopp was definitely sad about losing the league title, but because of his abundance mindset, he was able to generously congratulate Manchester City on their win, know that there will be more opportunities to win the league, and consider how important this season will be in the long-term growth of the club.

When we shift from a perspective of scarcity to one of abundance we are less paranoid and anxious. We can hold things loosely, not take losses so hard, and not hoard our successes. We can be free to treat people well and cheer them on without worrying that there won’t be enough success or happiness left for the rest of us.

*You might say that having a perspective of abundance is a luxury for those who already have money, but that’s not at all accurate. In fact, I would argue that it may be even harder for those with loads of money to have an abundance mindset. There are plenty of rich people who lack generosity and are filled with anxiety about losing what they have.

“I Have So Many Questions” (An Ode to 2018)

2018 was a big year. I started this business, fumbled my way through, worked really hard and figured things out as I went. When I’ve been asked to reflect on it, I find myself responding initially with a big, thoughtful sigh. Relief. Anxiety. Gratitude. So many feelings. Throughout it all, I was constantly learning, constantly asking questions.

What’s the process for registering a business in Kenya? Am I qualified to [insert “job I’m totally qualified for” here]? What should I charge clients? Is it normal to feel this way? How am I impacting my community (if at all)? Where am I going? (Both literally and figuratively…) How am I impacting the environment? What does it mean to run a business well? Can I afford to [insert anything outside of basic life-sustaining necessities here]? How can we stop using so much plastic? What’s the next step? Wait… what am I doing?

Some of these questions (more than I would like to admit) have come from a place of worry and anxiety, based in my fear of failure. Those I could do without. However, some of my questions were rooted in curiosity and learning. They’re questions that will help me become better at my job — helping other businesses grow so that they can contribute positively to society. They’re questions that will help me be thoughtful and purposeful about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

And these are the types of questions that will help guide my 2019 (and will be the topic of many of my future blog posts). What is our responsibility, whether from a personal or business standpoint, when it comes to how we impact the environment? How do we impact our communities positively? What does it really mean to run a business well — not based on profitability alone, but looking at things holistically? How can we be more thoughtful about the choices we make, rather than just reacting to circumstances? I want to explore how I can do these things for my own business and how I can help other businesses do the same.

So, here’s to another year of questioning and exploring — hopefully with a little less anxious and an extra dose of curious. Happy New Year!

3 Things I Learned From African Health Experts… That Have Little to Do With Health

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia’s Minister of Health

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia’s Minister of Health

I recently had the opportunity to go to Johannesburg, South Africa for the third annual Africa Health Business Symposium, an event organised by one of my clients, Africa Health Business (AHB).

Along with a small team, my role at the symposium was to play the role of a journalist, interviewing many of the expert delegates. From the more than 30 interviews we conducted during the two days, I walked away impressed and inspired, with takeaways that go far beyond the health sector.

Here are a few of my highlights.

1. People are interesting.

Over and over again, I found myself captured by the diversity and creativity of each individual. I was able to get a sense of their motivations, what discourages them, what gets them excited, and what they are most passionate about in their careers. Every person I spoke with was interesting and inspiring. Each of their lives would make a great story.

The process made me wonder how I could incorporate this journalistic curiosity into every area of my life, with every person I interact with. Not viewing every conversation as an interview (that would be an excellent way to get people to start avoiding you), but to enter into our interactions with the perspective that people are interesting, their stories are valuable, and that taking the time to listen will leave us all better off.

2. We can’t make it on our own.

It came up in every interview: There is no way we can achieve universal health coverage if we try to accomplish it in isolation. The public and private sectors each play a vital role in the health sector. Civil society needs to be included in the process. When we collaborate and capitalise on each other’s strengths, we can make real progress.

I don’t know if it’s my introverted nature or a sense of pride (or a bit of both…), but I often try to do things on my own. Rather than bringing people in to create teams of diverse skill-sets and passions, I forge ahead in isolation, often completing things half way because I’ve run out of motivation or don’t know how to take the next step. If we want to make a meaningful impact, we will need help. It may mean looking for a formal group of like-minded people (like the one I joined, which I’ll talk about in a future post), or maybe it’s just a few close friends whose opinions you trust and whose feedback you value.

3. The future is bright.

One of the questions I tried to ask each person I interviewed was, “When you look at the future of the African health sector, what most excites you?” Without fail, their eyes brightened and they had no hesitation with their answer. They all had specific, concrete and varying examples of what gave them hope in the years ahead.

It can be easy, especially in areas like health, to focus on the challenges — there are many. Our world is seriously messed up and it can be overwhelming to think about all we have to overcome. And, although we cannot (and should not) ignore the problems, it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally ask ourselves and others, “When you look at the future, what are you most excited about?”.

By: Joelle Mumley

Why Working for Yourself is the Best (& the Worst)


I never had ambitions to become a business owner, but here I am.

Following my decision to fully invest in Kenya as my home, I started Kupanga Mawazo, which focuses on helping organisations accomplish their goals by supporting them in writing, editing, and strategy.

I started my business because I was no longer interested in a “traditional” job. After initially applying to organisations where I knew I would have only a few weeks of holiday time, be required to go into an office every day, and have limited control over the type of work I could do, I realised how much I craved flexibility and the chance to be my own boss.

I also knew I had something unique to offer. It’s taken me awhile to call myself an entrepreneur — I’m not the typical visionary who has a burning idea they can’t stop dreaming about. Instead, I enjoy the planning and implementation phase, figuring out how an idea can work in reality. I realised that I could help those I had considered to be “typical entrepreneurs” carry out their ideas, as well as come alongside established organisations that are trying to grow their businesses.

After taking the plunge, though, I can totally understand why this is not for everyone. It’s exhausting and scary. It’s so easy to get discouraged and off track. It takes a willingness to put in significant amounts of work without immediate financial benefit. It means being organised and structured and pushing through when I don’t feel like working. I’ve been forced to grow in creativity and have had to be willing to put myself out there when all I want to do is stay behind the scenes. And I still have a very long way to go.

But, most importantly, I’ve discovered that, while it’s not for everyone, it is for me. And it could be for you too — or maybe not. Either way, I hope you’ll join me. This blog will be a place where I’ll share about the things I’m learning, profile my clients and our collaboration, and let you in on why I do this work and what I hope to accomplish.

By: Joelle Mumley