Thanksgiving has passed, and Hanukkah and Christmas are around the corner. Many of us were fortunate enough to gather with family and friends and indulge our appetites on both food and fellowship. We’re a species that requires emotional connections to thrive, and gathering to share the abundance in our world is just the salve we need to punt this pandemic goodbye. If you’re like my family, we always prepare more than can be eaten at our gatherings. Part of our goodbye ritual is to separate and package the abundant leftovers among each other; such a wonderful way of extending the holiday meal and ambiance.
Abundance is a relevant degree of plentifulness, and scarcity is deficient in quantity or number. On a linear spectrum, these nouns are opposites — abundance associates with the universe, scarcity associates with a black hole. We can use this same spectrum to measure our state of mind. Are you an abundant thinker or scarcity thinker? Do you see your world with a relevant degree of plentifulness, or is your perception of sparsity? Your mindset determines your behavior and how you engage others.
I’m fortunate to have traveled to several countries, many impoverished. Of those developing countries I visited, scarcity was palpable. However, the people were among the most abundant-thinking I met. They saw opportunity and bounty in their environment and exploited it. Their family gatherings centered on indulging their appetites, too. Maybe not at an opulent table setting most of us experience at Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, their table was abundant with local food and the fellowship genuine in goodwill.
Abundant leaders see a landscape of opportunity to exploit. They reflect on the past, embrace the present, and eagerly walk toward the future. Abundant thinkers see bounties to share, and their glass is always half full. Scarcity leaders see a desert with a single oasis to guard. They neglect the past, protect their present and avoid moving forward. Scarcity thinkers see essentials to hoard, and their glass is always half empty.
These opposing mindsets impact a company’s organizational culture and long-term sustainability. Both attitudes create conditions that affect retention, productivity and sales. Imagine being in a work environment where the leadership team was abundant thinkers. They ignore the competition, are purpose-driven, and focus on what the team can do to maximize their time, talent and treasure — retention skyrockets. On the other hand, if the leadership team were scarcity thinkers, they fear competition, are bottom-line driven and question their investment in the company’s human capital — retention plummets.
Abundant thinkers believe if their organizational culture is strong, their team’s attitude is always “what can we do” to enhance output. The team mirrors abundant thinking throughout the company. Team members at all stratifications realize their collective efforts close the natural capability gap in every organization and productivity benefits. However, scarcity thinkers believe in avoidance of cost, risk and investment. They task their team to preserve the bottom-line profits by announcing “what can’t be done.” Driving costs down by any means tends to increase the organization’s capability gap and commoditizes their products or services.
What’s the impact abundant and scarcity thinking has in the marketplace? Abundance brings value and scarcity brings discounts. An organization that is chock-full of abundant thinkers positions its products or services to its ideal client as a value-laden solution to their immediate or future needs. Price and competition are not the determinants in making the sale; value is. An organization crowded with scarcity thinkers relies on discounts to entice their customers and volume to achieve slim profitability margins. Beating the competition in price to increase market share is their long-suffering strategy. Value is not the primary factor in making the sale; price is.
I’ve characterized a successful company as sustainable, predictable, stable, consistent, and creates an emotional connection in past columns. The organization mastering the five disciplines of strategy, business development, people, execution and mission is how the company achieves this definition. To master the five disciplines, though, the leadership team must be abundant, not scarcity, thinkers. This attitude has a direct and positive impact on retention, productivity and sales. You want a successful, enduring company, adopt an abundant mindset. This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Now let’s get after it!
Retired Col. Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions. Paul and Lisa mentor and coach business owners on leadership and management principles in achieving and sustaining their business growth and profitability goals. He can be reached at [email protected].