Volume 103: Holiday Cheer and Abundance Thinking

This time of year, we hear a lot about “holiday cheer”.

Decorations are up, family time and gift giving are right around the corner, and companies all over the world are creating HR nightmares by using Holiday Parties as an excuse to over-indulge around their coworkers. There’s a lot of reason to be happy and upbeat.  

But not everyone feels this way around the holidays, and there are tons of reasons why. Some people are stressed financially, or about having to visit relatives they don’t like. Some people don’t have family to surround themselves with, so the holidays can be tough.  

In general, I like the holiday season because I typically get to see more of my kids, I occasionally get a little time off, and it gives me time to plan the next year for my company.  

But I think this concept of holiday cheer is an important one, because that kind of warmth and positivity can be a big agent of change in your life, and it should extend beyond the holidays.  

The way I’ve had it shared with me, that I really enjoy, is thinking with a mindset of abundance vs a mindset of scarcity.  

If you’re thinking with a mindset of abundance, you’re seeing the positive and opportunity in situations as they arise. It doesn’t mean you’re always smiling, but it does mean you’ve programmed your brain to find the upside of most situations.  

If you’re thinking with a mindset of scarcity, you’re finding problems everywhere you look. Even the smallest slight by a stranger, a coworker or a family member is a hanging offense, and every hurdle is the size of Everest.  

Mindset matters.  

Take this situation if you’re a manager: you have an employee that has started to consistently turn reports in late. It seems like every single report is turned in well after you expected it.  

A scarcity thinker is going to jump right to the idea that the employee doesn’t respect you or your time enough to turn stuff in by the deadline, or that the employee is lazy and should be formally disciplined. After all, the reports have deadlines for a reason!  

The scarcity thinker is going to hyper-focus on the problem, and the outcome can only be negative as a result.  

An abundance thinker is going to see that there’s probably something else going on and use this situation as an opportunity to create dialogue. They’re going to go to the employee and ask about the late reports.  

Maybe they’re stretched too thin because of a new shift schedule, a staffing issue, or there’s been a change at home. Maybe all three. The abundance thinker still needs the reports on time, but they’re much more likely to come up with a solution.  

The abundance thinker is going to hyper-focus on that solution, and the outcome has a much, much higher chance of being positive as a result.  

In the past, I’ve mentioned my Director of Operations as an example of this phenomenon: if he comes to me with an idea that he doesn’t think I’m going to go for, he’s going to position his argument in such a way that I’m never going to say yes. He’s going to get defensive at any questions I ask, and assume that any concerns I share are a sign I’m ready to say no.  

And he’s not alone in this, I’m sure we can all think of situations in which someone came to us expecting us to say no. A subordinate, a kid, a spouse, or maybe just a friend. They come in with little confidence, or worse, too much confidence, and get easily knocked off message when you express concerns or ask questions.  

To someone with a scarcity mindset, questions and concerns are a surefire sign that they were correct from the beginning, and the idea is being shot down. At the slightest leak, the boat is taking on water and you better abandon ship before you sink with it.  

To someone with an abundance mindset, questions and concerns don’t mean no, they just mean there are questions and items to address. There might be a leak somewhere in the boat, but they’re confident and enthusiastic in their idea, and can plug that leak and keep pushing forward.  

An abundance mindset can impact every single part of your life in a positive way.  

For a job seeker, especially during a time like this, a scarcity mindset will quickly wear a candidate down with the rejections and negatives. That will seep into one’s interviews and interactions with hiring authorities, as well. A scarcity mindset will have the candidate expect to not be chosen and cause them to answer questions from that place of negativity.  

But an abundance mindset will allow a person to learn from interview follies and take rejection as an opportunity to grow and do better. That will seep into one’s interviews and interactions with hiring authorities, as well. An abundance mindset will have the candidate positive that they’re a great fit and cause them to answer questions from that place of confidence.  

Outside of the professional arena, a scarcity mindset will have your blood pressure up because of the traffic on your morning commute, whereas an abundance mindset will view that traffic as an opportunity to catch up on that podcast or book on tape that you’ve been wanting to get to.  

A scarcity mindset will view this odd year due to COVID as a wasted year, but an abundance mindset will show you that you got to spend more time with your kids, your spouse, your pets. You got to work on that house project that you haven’t had time for, or finally made the move into a bigger home entirely!  

I think you get the idea.  

Now, some of you might be reading this thinking, “okay, I see some of that scarcity mindset in myself, but how can I change it? Things are bad!” And my answer is that it doesn’t change overnight, but it does start with the active choice to be more positive and think with more abundance.  

One place to start, once you’ve made that active choice, is with the language you use. The words we choose to convey a point are often a good indicator of how we view that topic. If you’re saying, “I have to go do XYZ thing,” it’s probably not something you’re viewing in a positive light. If you can replace “I have to” with “I get to” or even the more neutral “I’m going to”, that can be a small, but very effective change.  

You can use this in interviews, or as a manager as well. Instead of phrasing something as an area you struggle, or something you or a subordinate does poorly, describe it as “an opportunity for growth”.  

Making the active choice to take the opportunity to continue to get better, instead of wallowing in what’s going wrong, is what abundance vs scarcity is all about.  

So, as we head into the holidays, I encourage everyone to choose an abundance mindset, and find that Holiday Cheer. And as always,  

Stay Strong!

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