Scarcity Versus Abundance

Originally published on February 14, 2018 by The Montrose Daily Press

Editor’s note: Chelsea Rosty is out on maternity leave. For the next three weeks, this column will feature guest columnists until her return.

You’ve heard the sayings, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there”; “It’s a rat race”; “You’ve got to look out for number one”; or “It’s every man for himself.”

Thinking this way implies that there are only limited resources that we must fight for. This sort of thought process exists in the workplace where co-workers may only be out to move up the ladder or make inroads with the right folks, even if they have to step on a few others to do it. It also happens when neighbors compete for the nicest lawn, most elaborate Christmas decorations or fanciest car pulling into their driveway. We see it on Facebook or Instagram with photo competitions for the most amazing vacation or most put-together family.

The funny thing is, when I look back at the relationships in my past, the type of folks who have this competitive — scarcity mentality don’t make the list of folks who have made big, positive impressions on my life. You don’t hear too many people saying, “That competitive jerk changed my life,” unless they are referencing characteristics to avoid.

The best leaders in my life have been the folks who reject that scarcity mentality. They believe there is enough for all of us if we work together. These are the ones who take time to teach you everything they know. They encourage you to step out and be bold, and stand behind you to catch you if you fall. They say things like, “You have what it takes,” and when we mess up, which we will, they walk alongside us and say, “We’ll make it through this.”

There seem to be two very different equations at work here. One is very linear — if you have one apple and you give it to your neighbor, you have no apples. If you have one day to finish a project around the house and a buddy asks you to help him move, you’d say no and work on your house.

The other equation is different, though. If you have one day to get something done and your buddy asks for help, the two of you buy pizza, invite some other friends along and bust out both projects and then some.

The fact is, the scarcity approach can be true. It can be true for you if you let it. In the last example, if you declined your friend’s invite to help and you stayed home to work on your own thing, you miss out on so much more. You can’t always help and it is important to say no sometimes, but if you make it your way of life to decline these opportunities and to look out for number one, this pattern becomes a self-fulfilling lifestyle of scarcity.

The cool part, and the blessing in all of this, is that the abundance mentality gets to be true for you as well. If you decide to be the person that helps out and invites others to join in, you break out of the linear equation and reject the scarcity mentality. All of a sudden, you can share with others and still have what you need.

Over the past few years, a few other financial planners and I have been getting together to talk shop. Two of these guys and I have committed to a phone call every three weeks to talk about work, home, community, accountability and everything in between. We are all about the same age, have young kids and own part of a business. We are living really similar lives. It could be easy to think, “I better not share my best ideas,” or “I better not show any weakness.” But instead, we embrace these things. We share our very best ideas and we work through challenging spots in life together. Instead of a dog-eat-dog world of competition, we get to work together and learn from each other, and life is better because of it.

I just finished a book by Dr. Henry Cloud called “The Power of the Other.” In his writing on relationships, Cloud says, “Relationships are everything. The strength and quality of our relationships is one of the most impactful shaping forces in our lives. We do not move through the world alone. We are helped by some, held back by others; supported by friends and family, or stuck in a maze of drama and heartache.”

We get to choose the voices that we let in. We also get to choose the life we lead and the idioms that define us. Is it a “dog-eat-dog world out there” or is there enough for us to make a difference together?

Cloud is right, “We are helped by some and held back by others.” As we enter this new year, let’s invite in more of the voices that say, “You’ve got this.” Let’s be those voices for each other and let’s build a community together.

You have what it takes!

Adam Miller is a financial planner and co-owner of Elderado Financial. He walks with families through wealth management and charitable planning. Miller finds satisfaction in seeing families released from the grip of money by simplifying their finances and finding joy in generosity.