There's ample success and opportunity available when you adopt an abundance mindset.
The world is changing fast, and while there are more opportunities than ever before, there are also myriad challenges and pitfalls that can get in the way. One of the best ways to overcome those challenges is with a strong mindset—more specifically, an abundance mindset. The problem is that people are often conditioned to live with a scarcity mindset.
What is mindset?
Your mindset is your perception, perspective, and outlook on the world. It's how you choose to see things. Is the glass half empty or half full? Are events you experience good or bad? As you go deeper into the topic and idea of mindset, you'll start to realize that most of how individuals view life comes down to their outlook and perception—and that a person's perception is their reality.
Do you have any friends who see the world as a dark, unrelenting, negative place that will find any way to punish them? They claim all politicians are crooks, the government is a waste, and everyone is out to get them. Maybe you have a friend who has that outlook. Or perhaps it's you.
Then you may have other friends who believe the world is wonderful, that people are kind and caring, and that life is full of opportunities. They are always smiling and happy no matter what happens and always seem to find the good in people.
How do those two groups of people possibly live in the same world? It all comes down to perception, which creates our unique realities. If you think the world is a wonderful place, it is. Conversely, if you think the world is a dark, unforgiving place that never works out for you, you are probably right.
There are many types of mindsets that individuals can focus on to improve their chances of happiness and success in life. I often teach people about the importance of living with an ownership mindset and focusing on things within their control to achieve more. I also think it's important for people to operate with a growth mindset, which enables them to be more innovative and try new things.
I have achieved way more and been happier along the way because I adopted those mindsets, put a plan together, and stuck with it. But one mindset can really derail people because it's so deeply rooted in fear: the scarcity mindset.
The harm of a scarcity mindset
People who operate with a scarcity mindset believe that life is a zero-sum game and that there is only so much success or money available. When individuals operate with a scarcity mindset, they also believe they need to protect what they have for fear of losing it.
Examples include being protective of clients or frugal with money. Many studies show that the pain of losing something is greater than the joy of gaining something; therefore, people will go to great lengths to hold onto what they think they already have. That could be jobs, titles, opportunities, money, objects, relationships, people, travel plans, and much more.
Money is one of the most obvious examples where people often operate with a scarcity mindset. I've met some miserly people who have over $100,000 sitting in a savings account that they won't spend or invest because they are so afraid of their business failing and running out of money.
At work, a scarcity mindset could entail thinking that you need to beat out other employees for a promotion because there won't be any opportunities left for you if they get it. Or to get appointed to a coveted project. Or to be selected for a new role or a certain program. Maybe you and a friend are both looking for a new job, and when you find out about a really great role opening at an ideal company, you choose not to tell your friend about it because you fear they may apply and get the job instead of you.
While it may be true in most of those situations that there is only a limited number of spots available, it's also true that someone else getting that spot does not preclude you from finding another opportunity somewhere else.
A toxic example I've seen of a scarcity mindset in the workplace is when employees sabotage each other to prevent the other person from getting an opportunity. Or even worse, when a manager holds an employee back because they are afraid the employee may surpass them or take their job.
It's a shame to see such things happen, because it likely means the manager or employees are living in fear and will probably never be truly happy; they will always be looking over their shoulders. And they may also ruin relationships or their reputations by prioritizing their own ego and success over the success of others.
Although many people have risen to power and achieved financial success by stepping on others' backs, you will find most of them are stressed, anxious, disliked, and mistrustful. Keep in mind that even if you miss out on the specific job, promotion, or project role you desire today, there may be something even better waiting for you on the other side.
Succeeding with an abundance mindset
Too many people think that careers and life are a zero-sum game. The truth is that there is plenty of success available to everyone. I like to say that there is an unlimited amount of money, success, and love in the world. Therefore, if a colleague or someone you know achieves success, it usually does not take anything away from you because there are many opportunities for you both to be successful.
For instance, if I miss out on getting a new contract with a client, I know that doesn't mean I won't find another one somewhere else. Or that I can't follow up with that client and find a new opportunity or way to work with them a few months later.
Living life with an abundance mindset means you share and collaborate openly because you don't fear losing when others win. You know that there is no limit on success, and if one person achieves something, it only proves what is possible for you as well.
If a friend publishes a new book or article, completes a marathon, gets a new job, or finds a new client, it does not take anything away from me. In fact, it may inspire me to go try and do the same thing.
That's why I share openly and root for everyone around me. I want them to succeed, and I know that it doesn't take anything away from me if they do.
In the membership community that I run for talent development professionals, I regularly see examples of people openly and generously sharing ideas and helping each other with no hesitation, and it makes me so happy to see. Plus, I believe those individuals are building a positive brand and legacy by choosing to share and help others instead of protecting their time and ideas.
Much to gain
There are many benefits to living with an abundance mindset. First, people who do so tend to be happier and less stressed. Instead of always looking over their shoulder to see who is trying to take their position or lunch, they can focus on collaboration and helping others with the faith that things will work out for them as well.
When I published my book and launched my current business, I noticed that there were many other people in the career space like me. I resolved from day one to always look for ways to collaborate and help others and never feel like I need to compete with them. For that reason, I have made many new friends, referred business to others, and never felt like I had any competition.
Second, people with an abundance mindset are often more successful than those with a scarcity mindset because they are more likely to take risks and try new things. They are also more likely to help their colleagues and other people, which I have found leads to more people wanting to help the individual in return. For instance, a Harvard Business Review study found that leaders who had an abundance mindset were more effective at motivating their teams and achieving positive results. And research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan reveals that people who have an abundance mindset are more likely to give back to their communities and contribute to society in a meaningful way.
The more we help and give to others with no expectations, the more it comes back to us. I'm always so eager to help others and people seem to always be eager to help me in return.
Whenever I see an opportunity to make an introduction or support someone who is launching a book or podcast, or to just root for someone who is taking on a big challenge, I do it. There is something to be said for generously looking for ways to help others because you may one day need help yourself.
Third, operating with an abundance mindset can lead to more collaboration, creativity, and innovation. That is simply because instead of hoarding ideas, you are sharing with others, which may enable them to contribute and enhance those ideas.
I've always been open about my ideas and business with people. I've never felt the need to protect those ideas or withhold them for fear of someone stealing them. I find that leads to more open conversations, ideas, and collaboration.
I know some may say doing so is a risky way to live because it leaves me more vulnerable to having my information or clients stolen. But I believe the risk is worth it, and that is the way I prefer to live.
The challenge of comparison
When it comes to moving from a scarcity to abundance mindset, one of the biggest challenges comes from comparison. Comparison is natural. Humans have been comparing themselves with others for thousands of years. We are always looking to see who has a nicer house, car, family, vacation, job, and so on.
That often influences us to think that we are competing with others. Perhaps, for most people living thousands of years ago, that was true. We were often competing for food or shelter. However, today the comparison is only in our minds and exacerbated by what we see on social media, where people are only sharing the best parts of their lives.
The problem is that we can't get caught comparing our whole lives to someone else's highlight reel. Comparison causes so much stress and anxiety for so many people. For example, a study published in Psychological Science found that individuals who engage in social comparison are more likely to experience lower levels of life satisfaction and higher levels of depression and anxiety.
The cure to comparison's negative effects is abundance. When we commit to truly rooting for and helping everyone around us, then we can also choose to be inspired by them and stop believing we are competing with them.
The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others and wishing you were more successful than them, consider this: There are no trophies at the end of life for being the most successful. All we have are our own memories and personal level of satisfaction with our lives.
So, why not choose to be grateful for what you have, be happy with your life, and root for others as well?
Try it out
As mentioned, life gets better when we live and operate with abundance. But it does mean a big shift for many people. Here are some tips:
- Remember that success is not a zero-sum game and there is an unlimited amount of it available.
- When you find yourself feeling like you are competing with someone, ask yourself whether you are really competing or if it's only in your head, and whether you truly lose anything from them winning.
- Instead of worrying about or rooting against others, try to focus your energy on things that are within your control; don't worry about what others are doing.
- Rather than comparing yourself to those you consider successful and beating yourself up about not being as good as them, try asking what you can learn from them and choose to be inspired by them.
- Use someone else's success as motivation for you to achieve big things as well.
- If you don't get what you want, remember that there are ample opportunities out there to get more.
If this concept is new for you, then try out living with abundance for a week. Catch yourself every time you act out of fear or try to hoard or protect something from others. Actively look for ways to help or give to others. When someone tells you about a success they had, be happy for them.
After a week, see how you feel. I'm willing to bet you will enjoy living this way. It's freeing and fulfilling. But if not, you can always go back to the way things were before. Personally, I prefer abundance and will always be living that way—rooting for you and others to succeed.