When Stephen Covey wrote his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he coined the terms “scarcity mentality” and “abundance mindset.” Scarcity mentality is the belief that life is a finite pie; when one person takes a large slice, it leaves less for everyone else. It’s a common perception of our world, perpetuated by corporate greed and frankly, most people’s life experience. But the reality is, a scarcity mentality keeps people so focused on what they don’t have, that they don’t stop to look at what’s possible

In the Mahoning Valley, we know a thing or two about scarcity. For so long, we have gotten what seems like a smaller piece of the pie than everyone else. But did we get a smaller piece because the world is unfair, or did we get a smaller piece because we spent so much time focused on what we didn’t have. The scarcity mindset has been so prevalent across the spectrum of the Mahoning Valley, it’s been this way as long as most of us can remember. We slipped in somewhere around 1977 and haven’t found our way out of it yet. 

They don’t call us the birthplace of grit for nothing – it’s a hard-earned, well worn title. But there is another way: Adopting an Abundance Mindset. It might seem like a bunch of rainbows and butterflies, but when we spend our energy focused on what we don’t have, we lose out on what’s possible. 

Let’s look at this concept with a tangible example: 

You want to start a consulting firm providing community and economic development assistance in the Mahoning Valley (sound familiar?). So you do your research, you identify a strong target market and the need that exists. Then, one month before you are set to launch, another consulting firm launches before yours. 

When you approach the world with a scarcity mentality, your first reaction in this scenario will likely be anger, frustration, jealousy, and a sense of doubt. “How will I be able to launch my firm?” “Who will I serve now?” “They are taking up all the resources/clients/business in the Valley.” When approached from a scarcity mentality, you focus all of your energy on the piece of the pie that this other firm has taken up. And, in doing so, you aren’t looking at the opportunities that exist for your own success. Approached from an abundance mindset, you instead approach the scenario with genuine curiosity, because you know the pie is not finite, and there is plenty of space for both of you. So, you reach out to the new consulting firm to learn more about them. You learn more about what they are doing, who they serve, and their core beliefs to see if they are aligned with yours. You might identify a way for your new firm and this new firm to partner up. Or, you might discover that they are actually serving a completely different market than you. Maybe you have complementary skill sets and you can work toward forming a joint partnership that, together, serves even more people than either of you could alone. Instead of focusing your energy on what they are doing, you focus your energy on what’s possible for your firm. 

This is an example of something I’m sure everyone has experienced to some degree. Instead of focusing on what you’re capable of doing, you spend your energy focusing on how little of the pie you think it left. I’m here to tell you – the pie is plenty big enough for everyone to have their slice. 

Right now, we are seeing opportunities open up for the Mahoning Valley that we won’t see again in my lifetime. If ever there was a time to take a deep breath and start practicing an abundance mindset, this is it. Our moment to shine, to shake off the rust, to join hands and work together is now. Let’s stop focusing on who is getting a bigger piece of the pie, and start focusing on how we can all enjoy the pie together. Look around at the cities who have already shaken off the rust and how they have revitalized. They certainly didn’t do it by spending all their time focused on what someone else had. They did it by coming together, putting their differences aside, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work – shoulder to shoulder. 

Next time you are faced with a moment that triggers your sense of scarcity, I challenge you. Take a deep breath, and really look at what’s happening. Find a partner, reach out, build a bridge and start approaching what’s possible from an abundance mindset. The pie is big enough for all of us. And if you need any help seeing it, feel free to give us a call.