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.
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:
“…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.