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Teaching Abundance

by Byron on June 3, 2013

Dear Decker,

Today, I saw a woman with her daughter.  The daughter was about two.  The mother’s friend took the daughter’s hat off her head.  “I’ve got your hat,” she said.  The daughter didn’t react much.  She smiled at the mom’s friend.  Daughter made it pretty apparent she wasn’t seeking the hat back.  Hat scarcity wasn’t something on her radar.

“You better get your hat,” the mother said with a bit of a snap.

In the situation, there was no actual danger of losing the hat.  Mom’s friend was joking around.  The comment was made, in essence, from a place of love and instruction.  Mom wanted daughter to know she needed to stick up for herself.  Mom wanted daughter to know that daughter needed to get her hat back.  No one was going to do it for her.

Would it be wrong to teach the opposite?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a timeless book I imagine will still be around when you’re working, teaches an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset.  When we think that “I need to get my resources at your expense,” in turn, we make it less likely we will get the resources we need.  Scarcity means there’s not enough for all, abundance means there is.

If you never worried at all about what was yours and what was his, would you be okay?  Would you have enough?

These questions are a little ridiculous, sure.  Personal property rights is actually one of the cornerstones of American democracy, one of the more successful societies (in many ways) of all time.  I’m not suggesting you should not want to possess.  I’m also not suggesting you should never think of things from a scarcity mindset.  When there’s one piece of chocolate cake left and your Mom and I both have our eye on it, watch out.  I’m getting that cake!  Your Mom would say the same!

If that little girl didn’t get her hat back, she wouldn’t have a hat.  At least not until some point later in the day.  And she’d probably never have that particular hat again.  Shy of her mother buying the same hat, she’d never have a matching hat.  Maybe there was hat scarcity, I don’t know.

What I do know for sure is that possession is temporary.  I would even go so far as to call it somewhat of an illusion.  The reason you can possess a house is because a hurricane hasn’t destroyed it.  The reason you have money in your wallet is because no one has robbed it from you.  The reason you possess knowledge is because you learned it and your health has not taken it from you.  The reason you have chocolate cake is because it hasn’t gone bad yet.

Maybe your Mom and I could split the cake, or we could bake a new cake.  Maybe the little girl doesn’t need that hat.  It’s a hard concept to think about when looking at one object.  It’s a mindset.  I have enough resources versus I don’t have enough resources.  We can build and acquire together versus we must build acquire separately, and probably at each other’s expense.

The little girl shouldn’t be cavalier about her hat.  However, the little girl also shouldn’t worry that her needs will be met.

As you go about the business of acquiring in a world sometimes containing scarcity, I hope you have an abundant mindset, knowing resources will be provided for you.



ps I think I need to re-read Seven Habits


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