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Leaders Who Focus on Scarcity Lose, and Here’s Why

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Move out of a scarcity mindset and back into the driver's seat of life.

It’s so sneaky, we hardly even notice it. Random thoughts that get us to operate out of what we lack instead of what we have. Whether it’s an unfulfilled need, a lack of gratitude, or just a hyper focus on the wrong thing, a scarcity mindset creates a kind of tunnel vision that limits our ability to move forward.

We have limited energy in our brain, and a scarcity focus causes us to have blind spots and blocks our ability to get after what’s important. That means that our decision making abilities and self-control are weakened.

Self-control is an important executive function of the brain that is blocked by a scarcity mindset, according to Harvard University economist Sendhil Mullainathan and coauthor Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir. Together they wrote a book called "Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much" and in it they describe how a scarcity mindset affects us.

Living with scarcity breeds bad decisions

A scarcity mindset uses up our “mental bandwidth” that would otherwise be focused onmaking good decisions and moving forward. A scarcity mindset drives gut-level decisions for everything from our diet to financial decisions. We end up making impulsive choices that negatively impact our relationships, our teams, and even our futures.

Mullainathan warns us:

“We need cognitive resources to gauge future needs, and we need executive control to resist present temptations. As it taxes our bandwidth, scarcity focuses on the present, and leads us to borrow.”

Here are some examples of how a scarcity mindset can negatively impact our lives:

  • Acquiring consumer debt
  • Being scattered in our thoughts and actions
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Distracted
  • Burned-out

So how do we counteract scarcity in our daily decisions?

Creating more space in our lives and the lives of those we lead fends off a scarcity mindset. When the pressure is off, and we are more present, we can make better informed decisions and we’re less likely to fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent. Whether it’s our time, money, or attention, getting back into the driver’s seat of our own lives is absolutely crucial.

Hiring a professional coach is one guaranteed way we can create space for things that matter, instead of letting our impulses govern what’s next on our agenda.

With some guidance from an executive coach, we handle our priorities better and discover more effective strategies for uniting our team around a common vision with better communication.

If we learn to tackle a scarcity mindset in our own lives, our organizations will inevitably benefit from the health we are experiencing in our personal lives as leaders. Here’s how living beyond the bounds of a scarcity mindset can contribute to your success:

  • We are more present with people.
  • We practice greater self-control with our thoughts and habits.
  • We give people permission to be innovative and self-directed.
  • We are more intentional with our day and therefore get allot done.

Consider increasing your capacity by hiring a coach

If you want 2018 to be your best year ever, schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our coaches to see just how much you have to gain from executive coaching. Silence the scarcity mindset and ensure 2018 is your greatest year of growth and success.

Here’s one last thought to leave you with from Mullainathan:

“The present presses automatically on you. The future does not. To attend to the future requires bandwidth, which scarcity taxes. When scarcity taxes our bandwidth, we become even more focused on the here and now.”

Create more bandwidth in your life and space for your desired future with a an executive coach. It will be the best investment you’ll make this year.

To your excellence in getting rid of scarcity and creating your desired future,
Coach Greg

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