The Scarcity Mindset

“There’s not enough to go around”.  This is the culture we live inCranberries - Scarcity Post – it’s the mindset we’ve been fed and adopted as truth, often without even knowing it.  It’s a culture of scarcity and comparison – one in which we never have enough and we’re always better (or worse) than the person standing next to us.  And the belief that there’s not enough to go around is often followed by “for me to get mine means I have to take yours”.

Scarcity is welded like a piece of steel over our subconscious and reinforced by the things we say – to ourselves and to each other every single day.

In other words, scarcity is so ingrained, we cannot just “snap out of it”.

I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not _______ enough – fill in the blank.  All this not being enough crap has to have balance or we’d never leave the house!

Enter Better Than – I’m prettier than she is, I have a nicer house, I’m a better parent, I have a better job, blah, blah – you know the drill.

Ultimately, we live with the belief that “I am not enough” and we pay for it with our happiness, security, our success as individuals, and our ability to connect with others as (imperfect) human beings.  Imperfect, yes – good enough, also yes.  Definitely yes!

We have plenty of food to feed this mindset   – just turn on the television for an hour.  There is no end to the messages telling us we don’t have enough…of anything.

What does this have to do with leadership?  Leadership is far more about who we are than what we do.  However, who we are, what we believe, is expressed in our actions – in our corporations, our communities, and our families.  How do you think it would be to follow
a leader who believes they are not smart enough, deserving enough, powerful enough – not good enough to be the leader?  Nearly every action, reaction, decision, strategy – you name it, would be guided by the underlying belief that they weren’t good enough to show up and lead.  I’ve been on both sides and can assure you, it’s not pretty…for the leader or the follower.

I write about this because I suffer from a scarcity mindset from time to time – although, once I became aware of it and what a lie it really was, it plagued me less and less.  During one of my tenures as a leader, every time I made a decision or led a project that was successful, I was always surprised and thought to myself “well, that was a fluke!”  I was aware of that thought at the time but I didn’t know the underlying belief was I’m not good enough and sooner or later someone is going to find out the truth and I’ll be out.  Can you relate?

Some believe the opposite of scarcity is abundance; others think it’s just simply enough.  Whatever resonates with you is fine.  The important thing is to realize you have enough, you do enough, and you are enough.  Abundance is the next step – you have more than enough, you do more than enough, and you are more than enough.

Write that on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror! (or wherever you like to put things like that for inspiration)

It’s true what they say – awareness is always the first step to changing anything.