Want to be happier? Choose abundance over scarcity - SmartBrief

All Articles Leadership Management Want to be happier? Choose abundance over scarcity

Want to be happier? Choose abundance over scarcity

An abundance mindset helps you focus on growing your success and helping others, too. Without it, you're spending time and energy fighting a zero-sum game.

6 min read


Want to be happier? Choose abundance over scarcity

Pixabay image/SmartBrief illustration

Sign up for SmartBrief on Leadership today for free.

I had a curious interaction with a friend and longtime colleague of mine a few weeks back. My friend and colleague shall remain nameless because this story is not so much about him as it is about the question that it brought to the fore for me. I share this story only because I it may raise an important question for you. too.

Here’s the question: “Do I operate with a scarcity or an abundance mindset?”

The backstory

I post on LinkedIn five times per week. It is a great way to build a community of like-minded business professionals and generate meaningful discussions that can serve to inspire and enlighten. Also, like many in the advisory business, I use the platform to promote the management consulting and leadership coaching work that I do. Also, like many, I will tag people from my network to engage with my posts. The practice promotes community building and can extend one’s reach and influence.

That said, I posted a piece highlighting my leadership coaching practice and tagged a dozen or so people from my network, including the friend and colleague that I am referencing. My friend is a fellow coach and advisor.

Here’s the response that I received via email that evening, as related to my post/tag:

“Come on, Jim … I am NOT going to promote your coaching business. A book yes, but not something that is in DIRECT competition to what I do.”

To which, I quickly replied:

“That’s Cool – And, I will continue to promote yours…”

Snarky tone aside, my friend’s comment made me pause to think about his point. Should friends or colleagues be expected to promote each another’s work when that work competes, in some way, with their own? Do I support his coaching posts? Was I out of line soliciting my friend for support, knowing he is a coach, too? Do I support other coaches? Does my friend support other coaches on LinkedIn? Why did I reply so quickly and in the way that I did?

Upon contemplation, I realized that it all comes down to mindset. Of course, I don’t believe I was out of line tagging him. Yes, I support his coaching content and other coach’s stuff, too. Why? Because I practice what I preach, and I preach the importance of adopting an abundance mindset.

An abundance mindset refers to the belief that there is plenty out there for everybody

An abundance mindset can change your life. Here are just some of the ways:

  1. An abundance mindset makes you happier — there’s less resentment when you realize there’s enough for everyone.
  2. An abundance mindset lets you be you — reminds you that you are enough.
  3. An abundance mindset tempers self-doubt — you can believe you can do it.
  4. An abundance mindset frames your aspirations — you can dream big when the boundaries are –limitless.
  5. An abundance mindset drives enthusiastic and continuous learning — when your world feels boundless, you want to learn more.
  6. An abundance mindset takes the pressure off — you don’t have to “win” everything, every time.

To put it into practice

There is much to be gained through the adoption of an abundance mindset. If you would like to put it into practice, and are not sure how, let me offer these three ideas to help you get started: 

1. When you catch yourself feeling territorial, find inspiration. Being territorial is a scarcity mindset behavior. It means you’re feeling threatened by someone else’s desire. Instead of digging in and defending your turf, use the feeling to find your own inspiration. Connect with what you want for yourself and take the action to achieve that.

For example, my friend was being territorial when denying me his endorsement. In fact, he was willing to risk a friendship over it. However, using this technique, he could have strengthened our bond by validating my work and using my request as motivation to make his work even more compelling.

2. When dealing with someone who is scarcity mindset-minded, remain vulnerable. An abundance mindset requires vulnerability. It requires that we learn to lessen our need to “win” in every situation. By remaining vulnerable, we open ourselves up to seeing all kinds of suitable outcomes. The broader the palette of possibilities, the more likely we are to achieve a result that a scarcity-minded person can accept.

My responses to my friend’s note — letting him know that I accept his unwillingness to support my work and that I will continue to support his — defused a potentially friendship-ending situation. My response enables me to continue to operate with abundance in mind as I pursue the growth of my coaching business.

3. When the path to abundance is tough to find, remember what you truly want. We all get discouraged from time to time. In these instances, it can be difficult to muster those feelings of abundance. It is in these times that we must remind ourselves about what we are truly trying to achieve. This focus can provide the clarity needed to discover the right path for you to operate with an abundance mindset.

The situation with my friend was certainly discouraging to me. His reaction was quite unexpected. I could have easily behaved in ways that would have escalated the situation. But, as I examined the interaction, it helped me to remember what was most important — to grow my business while maintaining my integrity.

To sum

Clearly, my friend operates out of a scarcity mindset today — one that centers on the belief that, for me to win, you must lose. Of course, he took offense to the suggestion that he might be willing to give a “thumbs up” to my coaching post.

While the abundance mindset is a basic tenet of most leadership coaching philosophies (and it may be a tenet of my friend’s coaching philosophy, too, I don’t know), it can be a challenge for people to fully adopt and make it part of their everyday outlook on life. 

Knowing this, I hold no ill will towards my friend over this exchange. After all, we have a history. And, I have seen all the nice things he has done for me and others within his sphere of influence over the years. However, I do hope to have the opportunity to help him see that an abundance mindset has so much more to offer him than one based on scarcity.

I hope the same for you, too.


If you liked this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free email newsletter on leadership. It’s among SmartBrief’s more than 250 industry-focused newsletters.

James M. Kerr is the founder of Indispensable Consulting, a management consulting and leadership coaching firm. His work focuses on vision storytelling, organizational change, and culture transformation. His latest book, “Indispensable: Build and Lead A Company Can’t Live Without,” (Humanix Books, 2021), continues to receive high praise among leaders worldwide. Please contact Jim on LinkedIn, Twitter or email.