It was Stephen Covey the first one talking about an abundance mindset and its opponent, a scarcity mindset, and the effects on self-leadership. To frame the topic, I can summarize an abundance mindset in a sentence: I win, you win.
An abundance mindset means being open up to possibilities, and, in this sense, thinking that there’s enough for everyone in the room if we make the effort to find it.
It’s pretty common our thinking comes from what we lack of; lack of time, resources or experience. And many times, it is more about the feeling of not having them than the physical reality. This produces fear and anxiety because, by default, we need to choose. We can’t have it all. This is a zero-sum mindset and a trade-off thinking: you win, I lose. To have this, I need to leave this.
First consequence is poor decision-making. Having a scarcity mindset leads into higher cost of attention because we need to make decisions all the time. It’s a matter of mental bandwidth; we tend to focus in the tasks in front of us, on short-term wins instead of long-term victories.
When we only focus on what we have in front of us, we get trapped into a tunnel. Focus is positive, a tunnelling vision is not: we lost perspective. And sometimes, good decisions today might not seem good in the overall picture.
With a scarcity mindset, we are always playing competition instead of cooperation, diminishing creativity and generosity. Is it the best way to be? No, if we want to deal with complex things.
Playing to win
To be able to develop an abundance mindset, we need a sense of personal worth and security. As many other aspects of personal development, the beginning is always the self. You, leader, need to create the conditions to provide your people with the required psychological safety to change their minds. The same apply for you, yourself.
Thinking from what we have instead of from what we lack of is about trying to make the pie bigger instead of simply share the cake out. No tradeoffs. This implies thinking big, search opportunities instead of limitations.
At times, I give my students this example. Imagine we two need to share a pizza. How could we split it? 99% of them answer: in halves. This is a zero-sum thinking.
What if you ask me what I want from the pizza? You can find surprisingly that I love the crust. Knowing that, how could we share it?
Mindset is contagious
In the process of creating the right conditions for an abundance mindset to flourish, be aware that you need to lead by example, walking the talk. Make the room for listening to what others need to say, be generous with your time and knowledge; promote off-limits discussions and be optimistic.
If you consider every event as an opportunity to explore, your people won’t be afraid to ask questions and try new things. It’s worth it.