Source: Forbes.com/ Garrett Gunderson – I write about wealth-building and personal finance for entrepreneurs.
I’ll never forget driving in my Chrysler New Yorker with my dad when I was in my early twenties. I had just started out in business and explained my plan to him this way, “I’m going to work harder than anyone, and one day I’ll be able to live this life like no one else could live.”
Around that same time, I’d read the book The Millionaire Next Door and was convinced that wealth was a function of what we cut out, eliminate, don’t do and save. I was pinching pennies till I had blisters on my fingers, and yet, I wasn’t getting any closer to true wealth.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was trapped in a scarcity mindset, which is governed by taking more from the world than you create, and when you get money, feeling bad about it. Why? Because you believe profit is the result of wrongdoing. If someone is getting wealthy, it must be at the expense of someone else, so we feel bad for wanting money.
A scarcity mindset says you need to be born into the right family or the right situation to become wealthy, which is disempowering, or that you need to win the lottery to get rich, which is equally as destructive. Of course, neither of these paradigms are true, but yet they still trap us.
My beliefs and actions reflected a scarcity mindset. I believed I could save my way to wealth (which doesn’t work) and that if I worked hard enough, I would be rewarded for my efforts. On that drive with my dad, he stated, “you can’t get back the memories you don’t create”.
I didn’t see the scarcity thinking would take over my life and it normalizes victimhood and robs us of our power.
On the flip side of scarcity is abundance. I know what you’re thinking, but no, this is not about frolicking through fields or holding hands and levitating because everything is perfect. It’s just a different commitment: to innovation and human ingenuity. It’s the belief that value creation is the rule and that dollars follow that value. Whereas scarcity robs you, abundance lifts you up.
Confronting the Choice: Scarcity or Abundance?
In 2007, I was having an amazing year in business. Then 2008 hit, and for the first time in a decade, our business had a downturn and experienced no growth. We had big obligations, like partial ownership of a 45,000 square foot building, with a constricting cash flow. I was also launching a book at the time, which was consuming a lot of my personal resources.
I had a choice to make. I could let scarcity rule, eliminate every cost I possibly could and hunker down at home in the hopes my cash wouldn’t run out. Or I could tap into an abundant mindset and use my resourcefulness to add value, knowing the dollars would follow.
I chose the latter. I went to the owner of my gym and asked if he would waive my membership fee if I helped him grow the business. If I achieved that goal, we could discuss a more official partnership. He agreed, and I rode my bike to the gym every day. (Like I said, resourceful!)
I’d been invited to join a mastermind group, but it was $25,000. After paying close to $200,000 to promote my book, I didn’t have the money, but I knew I wanted to be in that group. So I traded in referrals for credits toward my fee. I referred so many people to the group that I only had to pay $7,500 to join. I was ecstatic to join the group, as the person leading it was someone I’d been listening to during my daily bike rides.
I was scheduled to fly to Phoenix to film a TV spot to promote my book. I called a client there and they agreed to pick me up from the airport. Unprompted, they said I could even stay with them and that they’d love to host an event where I could sell my books. Again, I never even asked them to do this! I said yes and sold enough books to cover the cost of my trip.
The whole time this was going on, I was calling people with whom I had great relationships. I did it because I loved the energy they brought into my life and it gave me an opportunity to deliver value to each of them. They were appreciative and I felt powerful in that abundance.
The Key to Unlocking Your Productivity
We’re all going to face scarcity at some point in our lives. The choice we have is whether or not we’re going to get stuck in it. When I found myself facing that choice, I chose to be resourceful and innovative. My goal here is to help you figure out how to do the same.
I don’t want you to do that by trading time for money. I don’t want you to do that by eliminating everything you enjoy about your life. I want you to do it by realizing that you are your greatest asset, not some stock, bond, or piece of real estate. It’s you and your ability to be productive.
One of the best ways to be productive is to uncover your Soul Purpose, which combines your abilities, passions and values in a context governed by principle and a vision so compelling you’ll wade through the minutia and deal with setbacks to reach it. Once you find that purpose, the next step is finding a situation or organization that aligns with what you want.
This will begin a lifelong journey of improving your skillset so you can offer more value to the world, and as a result, money will follow. This is not the same as “do what you love and money will follow.” I love fishing, but it’s a hobby, not something I view as a business.
Finding your Soul Purpose will also help you stay focused and know when to say “no” when opportunities arise. If something isn’t aligned with that purpose, you’ll be able to turn it down knowing it’s going to distract from the work that lets you add the most value to the world.
You might think abundance means saying “yes” more often, but it’s actually the opposite. You want to say “no” more often and reserve “yes” for those things that align with your purpose.
Two Other Keys to a Producer Paradigm
Finding your Soul Purpose is a key to operating within a producer’s paradigm, which is the embodiment of abundance thinking. It’s asking in any situation, “How do we maximize the value we can provide?” It doesn’t worry about money, because resourcefulness isn’t bound by monetary restraints. It’s bound only by the beliefs you have about what’s possible.
There’s another key to operating within this paradigm I’d like to share: the “Producer Power Hour.” This is your daily ritual that gets you into a producer mindset, and it’s based off three E’s: exercise, education and enlightenment. For exercise, it could be stretching or walking, or you could do some crazy CrossFit workout. Whatever exercise you choose, the effect is the same: you’re showing your body that your mind is more powerful.
Becoming educated is easier now than it’s ever been. You’re doing it right now as you read this article. Find a podcast or YouTube channel you like, or crack open a book and read. Even if it’s just one page per day, do something every day that enriches my mind.
Finally, we have enlightenment. You could look at this as gratitude: listing out what you’re grateful for each day. This could be meditation or prayer. The goal is to start your day with a calm, clutter free mind and a positive focus. When I do this, I like to think of it as putting on the “armor of abundance.” Through these three simple acts, I’m investing in myself without spending a single dollar and I’m scaring scarcity off. I’m becoming a person who’s capable of providing value in every situation, regardless of my circumstances or financial situation.
That’s not only the antithesis of scarcity—that’s true power right there.
Summary: Do you recognise yourself in any of the scenarios above? Is Scarcity or Abundance driving your thoughts and actions? Or is one or other of them holding you back?
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