Job seekers starting the task of finding their next career destination look at sites like Indeed or LinkedIn Jobs often have two standard reactions:
“Look at all these open positions! I’ve got lots to choose from!”
“Look at all these open positions! I’m not cut out for any of them!”
These reactions can be caused by many factors, some tangible (economics of location, industry niche, personal skills, etc) and some not-as-tangible. Now if all things are equal, the choice of response driven by non-tangible factors can be heavily influenced by the seeker’s point of view. That assessment of all those open options could be coming from two competing, yet intertwined, frameworks- Abundance and Scarcity.
I’ve aware of the idea of what Abundance Mentality or Mindset for a long time. I first ran into in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and heard it echoed in the works on Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer. The idea that there’s more than ‘enough’ in the world if you center yourself in the concept of gratitude and contentment instead of chasing externalities.
“An abundance mentality springs from internal security, not from external rankings, comparisons, opinions, possessions, or associations.”- Stephen Covey
“If you look at what you have in your life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”- Oprah Winfrey
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”- Tony Robbins
Sounds great! Free yourself from worry by focusing your mind on the possibilities. Sign me up and I’ll start an Excel spreadsheet of my blessings! Just double down, try-hard, follow the steps and it’s instant contentment through a focused mind. “Fake it until you make it”
Quick and easy, right?
No, not at all.
Quick and easy to understand, but it’s only half of the equation. To fully understand and embrace Abundance, you also have to understand and deal with Scarcity.
So what’s Scarcity Mentality? This was a recent addition to my knowledge bank and came from NPR’s The Hidden Brain podcast. Specifically the episode “The Scarcity Trap: Why We Keep Digging When We’re Stuck In A Hole”. [Check it out here: https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=598119170 ]
Scarcity has a profound effect on the brain, especially if you’re dealing with or have dealt with a real lack of something essential in your history. Scarcity can overwhelm our brain’s decision-making processes and mess up our plans. We make bad choices when we focus on what we don’t have because we’re obsessed. The mental bandwidth to figure a way out of our situation just isn’t there. Chances are if you look back at your life at times you felt ‘overwhelmed’ or ‘stressed out’, you’ll find that the tension came from something you focusing on something you didn’t have.
Understanding Scarcity and the objects we’re obsessed about lacking (time, talent, money, love, attention, food, security, smarts, looks, health, job leads- you name it!) can be the missing piece to unlocking your gratitude and contentment in more honest and authentic ways that just ‘trying harder’ to focus. There are some good examples in the episode and I encourage you to give it a listen or read the transcript.
Once you’ve identified the scarcity that drives you, you can learn to adapt to it and work around it. Only then can you truly embrace Abundance and focus on what you’re grateful for instead of just the facts of what you’re lacking.
When approaching the market with gratitude you should find it easier to show the confidence and resilience that hiring managers want to see.