Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.
One of the single most important decisions you will ever make is: Do I live in a world of scarcity or in a world of abundance? While many of us might explicitly affirm the latter, we often instinctually act as if the former is true. I most often see this dynamic play out with Achievers, when the threat of losing or the thought of imperfection triggers their “Fear of Failure Leadership Shadow.” The purpose of this blog is to explore the notion of abundance and how it can serve as a powerful antidote to the “Fear of Failure Shadow,” and in doing so, help Achievers become more actualized in their approach with others.
Scarcity vs. Abundance
In her best-selling book “Mindset,” Stanford Professor Dr. Carol Dweck provides compelling research for the benefits of cultivating a sense of abundance, what she refers to as a “Growth Mindset.” In order to illustrate this concept, she compares it to seeing the world through the lens of scarcity, or a “Fixed Mindset.” When you see the world through a scarcity lens, you believe that your abilities and capacity for growth are set or “fixed,” and that the world operates in a “Win/Lose” mode, which creates an urgent need to prove yourself over and over. In other words, the “Fear of Failure Leadership Shadow” is activated and the dark side of Achievers — rigidity, narrow-mindedness and pessimism — emerges, which almost guarantees you will experience what you are so desperately trying to avoid: failure.
By contrast, cultivating a sense of abundance with a “Growth Mindset” allows individuals to see the world in a “Win/Win” modality, where the success of others inspires, not depresses, you. Moreover, you begin to embrace challenges as pathways toward growth, to persist despite setbacks, and most importantly for Achievers, to learn from, and even celebrate, your failures and imperfections.
Cultivating a Sense of Abundance
If you are an Achiever you have so many strengths in your favor: detail-orientation, organization, efficiency, and a strong drive for success and accomplishment. However, if you allow your “Fear of Failure Leadership Shadow” to manage you, you will likely never reach your highest potential and even if you do, you won’t be able to enjoy it. Here are some tips for cultivating the antidote for the “Fear of Failure Leadership Shadow,” abundance:
- Confront Your Scarcity Mindset – As with so much in life and leadership, development starts with profound awareness. You must begin the process of cultivating a sense of abundance by acknowledging you have been operating with a fixed mindset. Take note of the mindset of those you surround yourself with as well; they can impact you more than you know.
- Remind Yourself that There Is More than Enough – When you believe that there is enough to go around for everyone, you can feel yourself physically relax. Moreover, cultivating this perspective allows you to be inspired by the success and accomplishments of others, instead of taking it personally and allowing petty jealousy or depression to set in.
- Embrace the World as Win/Win, not Zero-Sum – One of the greatest pieces of advice I received from my mentor Dr. Dominic J. Monetta years ago was to remember that while some situations are Zero-Sum (i.e., one party wins, the other party loses), I should never adopt that perspective into my overall worldview. The wisdom he imparted was simple but profound: know when to lean in and compete, and know when to step back and learn.
- Offer Words of Appreciation and Gratitude – Telling people how much you admire and appreciate them, and offering your own gratitude for what you have, are transformational. Over and over in my life I am reminded that when I put my ego aside and express both appreciation to others, and sincere thankfulness for what I have without comparing myself to others, I feel centered and inspired.
- Spend Time in Silent Reflection – In addition to allowing us the space to cultivate and express gratitude, time in reflection allows us to take stock of our blessings and to truly feel the abundance that exists in nature. In his book “Life, the Truth, and Being Free,” author Steve Maraboli states that “… those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons to get up.”
Perhaps the most important message in Dweck’s book “Mindset” is that it is possible to cultivate a sense of abundance with intentional practice, including practicing the steps outlined above. Achievers have so much to celebrate; imagine the possibilities if you marry your natural strengths with an unwavering sense of abundance.