How to succeed with way less stress – Putting abundance to work

Scarcity mentality

In 2003, we decided to arrange our first business conference about Happines At Work. There were six of us working on it and none of us had ever arranged any conferences before. And we sure had our work cut out for us; we needed to find speakers, arrange a venue, get press attention, get a website, arrange catering, setup 15 workshops at the conference and, not least, sell a lot of tickets.

This was in the early days of the company and the question was: Could a group of people with no experience working on a shoestring budget put together a great, successful, innovative conference on an untested theme for a critical business audience?

Our basic approach to the whole project was “Sure it’s impossible. Let’s do it anyway.? We totally believed that we could do it. And here’s the fantastic thing: Everything just fell into place. We couldn’t believe our luck. We needed a website – I ran into Niels Hartvig who makes the excellent web platform Umbraco, and he offered to host it for free. We needed a great design – and Niels knew an amazingly talented designer who did it for free. We needed some press attention – and just when I was about to call some journalists a woman walked up to my desk and said “Hi, I’m a journalist, and I’d really like to do a story about you?.

It went on and on like that – everything we needed fell into place so easily, it almost got scary at one point. And this happened at least in part because we believed that it would be easy.

Oh – and when we had the conference it was a huge hit. People called it the best conference they’d ever been to!

In this post, I want to talk about one of the most fundamental ways to happiness, which is to cultivate an abundance mentality.

Some people argue, that businesses are only interested in those resources that are scarce. An abundant resource has no built-in economy – it can’t be bought or sold because it’s freely available to anyone. Air is a good example. Since business is at heart an economic venture, this means that business thinking is skewed towards scarcity from the outset and that which is abundant is ignored or downplayed.

But this scarcity mentality has a serious drawback. If your world view is that all the things you need to grow and prosper are scarce, hard to come by and something you must fight for, then the world becomes a very hard place to live in.

This world view means that we tend to meet others as enemies (or at the very least competitors). It means living in a constant state of worry that you might lose what you have, and not be able to get it back. It also means that every new project becomes a battle against the forces out there that want the same resources that you need to succeed.

But maybe the world isn’t like that. What if everything you need to succeed is abundantly available to you? What if you lived in a world that is more like a greenhouse with a nurturing environment for growth and less like an arid desert? What if people around you were actively trying to help you, not fighting you every step of the way?

That is abundance mentality, and it’s a key to both peace of mind and a great tool for getting great results in the business world.

Here are some examples of the difference between abundance and scarcity mindsets:

Scarcity Abundance
It’s every man for himself We can work together
I never have time I take time for the things that matter
Mistakes are disasters I can recover and learn from mistakes
Ideas are hard to come by and must be kept secret I can always have a great idea
Our company is lacking Our company has everything it needs to succeed
Look at all the resources we need Look at all the resources we have
The market is full of threats The market is full of opportunities
People are out to get me People are out to help me

So which is it? Is the world a nice, soft, inviting, cuddly place, ready to boost you to success in whatever venture you choose? Or is it a cold, hard, dog-eat-dog competitive place, in which only the strongest and the toughest survive?

Here’s the truth: It is whatever you think it is. Your approach determines the truth.

If you treat everyone around you like they’re out to get you, they most likely will be. If you go into a project treating it like a never-ending struggle for scarce resources that you must fight everyone else for, well guess what – it probably will turn out that way.

But if you trust people to be nice and help. If you yourself are nice and help others. If you trust that there is enough success to go around. If you believe that others don’t need to fail in order for you to succeed. Then you will make that the truth. There’s nothing mystical or strange in this.

It’s simply a matter of other people reacting to your choices and actions. When you believe that the world is a nice place, you’re open and relaxed which means you’re more likely to notice and take advantage of any new contacts, lucky breaks or serendipitous events that come along. You’re also more fun to be around, which means that you meet more nice people and that people want to help you.

Think about the things you truly need to succeed and be happy at work. Good relationships. Good ideas. Motivation. Support. Learning. Curiosity. A great network of cool people. None of these need to be scarce resources. Treat them as abundant, and they will be.

Will it work every time and make everything you need magically appear? Of course not – once in a while you will get burned, but so will the people who use scarcity as their mental model. And when you believe in abundance, at the very least you are more open, more positive, more relaxed and happier. And that ain’t too bad, is it?

What’s your take? What do you believe about the business world? How have you applied an abundance mentality in your work? Write a comment, I’d really like to know!

11 thoughts on “How to succeed with way less stress – Putting abundance to work”

  1. The world is what you make of it…
    You get what you attract into your world so I guess if all you think is “dog eat dog” that’s what you get…
    If you think something like “Through giving you shall receive”… you will give and you will receive a lot more because you will attract the kind of people that will too give first.

  2. This is a great point, and I have found that a large amount of abundance vs is perception. If people think there isn’t enough to go around they start fighting and working against each and before long it’s true. But, if they believe there is enough for everyone and work together in harmony, the result is everyone has more than enough.

  3. Great post, Alex! I agree with you completely… I think that an abundance mindset is a key to healthy, happiness, and success.

    Awhile back I wrote about how bloggers demonstrate an abundance mindset. Most networking meetings limit the number of people from a particular category that can join. The idea is to limit “competition.” Bloggers network with people in the same industry and have the mindset that helping each other will be good for everyone.

    Elaine – I love that quote – Happy people create. Unhappy people consume. :)

  4. david: Exactly. You may not get what you wanted… but you might get something equally good.

    Elaine: I think you’re right and the economies may tumble. But I have a feeling that there is a viable economic model based on sensible growth and consumption – in addition to the one we have now which is about maximizing growth and consumption.

    Maybe if we redefined our political goals from maximizing GNP to maximizing happines..? More here.

    Kirsten: Well you HAVE to agree, with all your positive affirmations :o) Blogging is very much an exercise in abundance and generosity – great point.

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