In my early career as a consultant working in California, I had a coworker named Luz who lived in one of those neighborhoods that went all-out for holidays, particularly Christmas and Halloween. When I mentioned that I never had any trick-or-treaters at my apartment, Luz invited me over to help pass out candy.
When the first kid arrived, I grabbed a handful of candy and dropped it in the little goblin’s bag. Immediately I was chastised, “One piece per kid, Adam!” I was shocked. We had 25 giant bags of candy from Costco. Why wouldn’t we give a bunch to everyone?
Turns out, she was right. The door stayed open the whole time as kid after kid lined up for their piece of candy. After 90 minutes of ghosts, princesses, Woodys, and Buzz Lightyears, we were all tapped out.
I’ve always thought of that night as a perfect example of the difference between an abundance mindset and a scarcity mindset.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey describes the abundance mentality as “the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody.”
He contrasts this mindset with someone who sees “life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.”
For financial advisors and financial planners, I often see this come up when we discuss bringing on a new client that is not ideal or does not fit within the advisor’s chosen niche.
Advisors are often tempted to bring on a less-than-ideal client because they don’t want to “lose the sale” or because “any dollar is a good dollar.” Because they view prospective clients as scarce and opportunities as few, they want to hold on to everything they can.
This is also why having a niche can feel so counter-intuitive. The idea of deliberately narrowing a market sounds like reducing the pie (even though the power of deliberate focus yields greater results).
But bringing on a client that is not a good fit is a short-term win that can result in a long-term loss in terms of wasted time and frustration serving a client that doesn’t value your service.
Here are three strategies to shift from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance:
- Avoid the comparison trap. It has been said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Instead of measuring your success against the (perceived) success of others, focus on being the best version of yourself.
- Think long-term with clear goals. This is why having a clear vision is so important. In the example above, the advisor would be much better served with comprehensive goals on exactly what type of clients he or she is seeking and how many are needed in a given year.
- Regularly express gratitude for what you have. The simple act of writing down what you are grateful for has been shown to improve sleep, lower stress and improve relationships as detailed by NPR.
Before you open your next piece of candy, take a moment to consider whether you live your life like there’s never enough or if you see each day as full of opportunities and joy.