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Honestly, Do You Believe You Can Design a Great Team?: Model #2: Scarcity vs. Abundant Mentality:

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Mental Thought Model #2: Scarcity Mentality vs. Abundant Mentality:

Mentality – An outward awareness of my environment.

When it comes to success in business, our mentality is often just as important as skills and experience. Two mentalities that are commonly discussed in the world of business are scarcity mentality and abundant mentality.


In this model, we will explore the origin of scarcity mentality vs. abundant mentality, provide examples of each and discuss how each mentality can affect a leader's ability to recruit team members for their small business.


The concept of scarcity mentality vs. abundant mentality was first introduced by Stephen Covey in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Covey describes scarcity mentality as a perspective that is based on the belief that there is not enough to go around and that resources are limited. This mentality leads to a fear-based approach to life, where individuals focus on protecting their own interests and hoarding resources. In contrast, Covey describes abundant mentality as a perspective that is based on the belief that there is plenty for everyone and that opportunities are limitless. This mentality leads to a generous approach to life, where individuals focus on creating opportunities for others and sharing resources.


Scarcity Mentality:


A scarcity mentality focuses on the limited resources available and the need to hold onto what you have for fear of losing them. When we have a scarcity mentality, we see the world through a skewed or biased perspective. Our focus gets stuck on what we believe is not possible or attainable. Many leaders feel there are so few good employees out there and that it doesn’t seem worth the effort to look for them and hire them. Afterall they are just going to quit anyway, they reason. Their experience reinforces this expectation, and their expectation directs their future experience. It’s a downward spiral, a degenerative loop. Pessimism often naturally dovetails with a scarcity mentality. This may be your que that you are a scarce thinker.


The problem is real, there are challenges in the job market that we may have never had to face before. But when we are so focused on the problem, we get distracted from any potential ideas for solutions. It is impossible to embrace the problem as unsolvable and at the same time focus on a viable solution. That produces cognitive dissidence in our brain, the discomforting attempt to simultaneously justify opposing ideas. Our brains don’t work that way. In addition, when we don’t challenge our own assumptions, they will never change. We get stuck in a pattern of helpless thinking.



Abundant Mentality:


An abundant mentality is the belief that there is enough success, happiness, and prosperity to go around. People with an abundant mentality focus on abundance rather than scarcity and see opportunities everywhere. They believe that success is not a finite resource and that there is enough to share with others. There is enough money out there to make, enough employees out there to attract and enough customers that have a need that they can meet.

My friend Kerry and I started a leadership academy in Des Moines a few years ago. We brought our leaders together and invited others from outside our company as outreach to teach leadership skills to local leaders who wish to grow in their industry. What is interesting is that, like me, Kerry owned several pizza restaurants in the same city. My strength is in leadership and Kerry is a true entrepreneur. Together we have a greater range of expertise. We are friends, but in some people’s eyes, we were direct competitors in a ferociously competitive industry. People would ask us how we could partner together to grow our people while competing against each other for market share. Our answer would always be the same. There are plenty of potential employees and customers out there and sharpening each other helps us both get a leg up on the competition. There is plenty of room for more than one successful pizza company in Des Moines Iowa. I am ok if there are only two, however.


An abundant mentality is important when it comes to setting and achieving personal goals and benchmarks. When we approach our goals with an abundant mentality, we are more likely to collaborate with others, share our successes, and celebrate the achievements of those around us. This attitude allows us to create a positive and supportive environment that can help us achieve our goals.


Scarcity Mindsets and Team Recruitment:


Leadership mentality affects talent recruiting, with scarcity thinking focused on losses rather than gains. This mentality causes candidates to feel uneasy and insecure. Avoiding poor leadership views requires addressing pessimism.


Scarcity-driven compensation limits lead to non-competitive salaries and limited staff development, making it hard to attract top personnel. Scarcity thinking and fear of failure cause risk aversion in hiring, favoring safe selections over ideal fits. When standard tactics fail, learning from failures and being creative are essential.


Scarcity perspectives undermine teamwork by obscuring transparency. Abundant attitudes create a welcoming, collaborative environment, making recruitment easier. It hires friendly, cooperative people because it promotes teamwork. Abundant thinking helps assertive decision-making by detecting unusual qualifications and risk-taking.


An abundant mentality emphasizes honesty and openness, which builds confidence among potential collaborators. It emphasizes candidates' progress for individuals and organizations. However, honesty and self-care are essential when communicating this.


Joel Smith

Business Coach, Author and Entrepreneur

This article is a section out of the book Team Design: Building Great Teams By Attracting the Right People. Download the Free PDF version.





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