Any business of any size is run by people. People, being people, carry their own mind-sets and world views with them wherever they go, and make decisions, have habits, and see things according to the way their world-view works. How you see the world decides how you act in it, and vice versa.
And with that setting the context, you have heard of the scarcity mindset, right?
- The Scarcity Mindset: How does being poor change the way we feel and think? (Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.)
In essence, the scarcity mindset is concerned with lack. If we were talking about it like it’s eyesight, it’s hyper-focus and short-sightedness at the same time.
- With hyper-focus you can get tunnel-vision. While doubling down on an issue can help especially when time is running out and the need is urgent, you can also get blindsided.
- With short-sightedness you won’t be able to focus on what’s further ahead.
You’re fully caught up in the moment, and not in a good way. Think of it like treating the symptoms and ignoring the illness. You feel better temporarily, but it doesn’t fix that you’re sick.
When you’re focused on what isn’t there, you can’t focus on what is there. You’re too tied up to respond freely, consciously, and deliberately.
What happens when you have have this mind-set?
- You spend the majority of your brainpower and energy on what you see as emergencies, and the important things can slide right out of focus.
- Your judgment is affected, as will as your willpower.
When these two things are set askew, you won’t be able to make the most appropriate choices in the situations you face, and you could find it easier to throw your hands up and pick the closest ‘solution’ available, or simply give up, which doesn’t help and can make the situation worse.
- The psychology of scarcity: Days late, dollars short ( The Economist)
- From the Scarcity Mindset to the Abundance Mindset (The Simple Dollar)
- Scarcity and Abundance: Escaping the Scarcity Mentality (The Simple Dollar)
In many cases, that sort of thinking can be a big a problem hiding in your blind spot. You might not think there’s anything out of the ordinary, you might not see that there’s an issue, but somehow you keep bumping into the same snarls, chokepoints, and roadblocks. You keep putting out the same fires.
See, the scarcity mindset isn’t just the overall feeling that “there is only this much, and no more,” so you have to get yours while you can. It’s an entire way of moving in the world, and for you, it’s just normal. And it’s holding you back.
In an entrepreneurial setting, it’s not just looking out at the world and seeing that isn’t there, it’s being inside yourself and not seeing what is still there. At the risk of sounding fake Zen, when you examine the world through these colored glasses:
Looking outside, there is scarcity.
Looking inside, there is inability.
You look at spaces and see them as gaps instead of openings; what isn’t there and not what you can do make something exist.
You see a need and do the barest minimum to address it, fearfully watchful of your own reserves. You answer to the call of the immediate, and are unable to look at the long haul.
Threatening or troublesome situations can make you feel backed into a corner, and feeling that keeps you from thinking of and focusing on what you can do the take control of the situation and act.
The scarcity mindset is a mental and psychological frame of poorness. You chose to do what you do to make a living, don’t let this mindset make you live and work poor.
So, how exactly can you ‘act poor’ in your business?
One would think that with all the technology at our disposal, this wouldn’t be a problem, but we just can’t push the tools ahead of the effort.
Communication is a skill, and like any other skill you have to put time and effort into it to be good. It’s just that with all the tech in the way, it’s easier to try letting it do the work instead of you. Go back to “doing the barest minimum” and try to thinks of times when rushing a solution led to more issues down the road. A hastily sent reply-all. Derailing. Using emojis to substitute for real emotions.
Putting speed over substance overlooks the nuances and details that make for good enough communication. To wit, think of how many mistakes you’ve experienced yourself when miscommunication happened in your business, either on your end or with the people you work with.
- Not enough information, and the subsets ‘incomplete information’ and ‘not the right information.’
- Too much information, with the resulting comprehension fatigue.
- Lack of responsiveness, delayed responses, or no response at all.
Poor prioritization and planning.
Any other time, this wastes times, resources and energy. In the scarcity mindset, it can slowly cripple you in the long run by sacrificing long-term gains for short-term wins: you survive, but you don’t thrive.
All the planning in the world won’t make up for poor execution and attention.
Are you tracking your actions and their results?
Are you taking notes so you can do better next time?
Are you able to operate smoothly in the time-frame you gave for the projects?
Is everyone involved carrying their weight and delivering?
Micro-managing is one example. Another is needless worrying. In any group, business or otherwise, moods are contagious, and negative moods more so.When you refuse to let go of what’s on your mind, you close up to what others can do to help. When you don’t rightly relinquish a project or an action, you lose the opportunity to work on matters that you’re better suited for, and deprive other people of the room and opportunity to do it their own way, and do it well.
The late sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein helped spread the unwieldy acronym of TANSTAAFL — “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” You don’t get anything of real value without putting the real work in.
And you know, since you’re already here, you can work on working smarter and with more focus. You can put yourself in the best state of mind you can and make the most of the opportunities you’re presented with. Opportunities, not gaps.
You can actually work on reframing the things you do and they way you do them in a more positive light. It isn’t an easy fix: you can’t change a lifetime of habit and perception overnight or in a week, but you can try stretching the limits and finding the silver lining in every cloud.
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