Dear Manager: About That Scarcity Mindset…

Dear Manager,

You asked me to sit in on a meeting with your team, to give you some feedback. Thanks for bringing me in. Here’s what I saw:

Lately, there’s a push to do more with the same resources. You told your team that “unless we work harder, it’ll go bad”.

I realize that you work hard to represent your team and to prevent some requests from coming their way. You told them that “unless I negotiate a compromise with our superiors, we will be swamped”.

You told your team that there were no other options, that “unless you listen to my perspective, we will miss our target”.


There’s truth in each of these statements. You have limited resources, high demands, and you have experience managing a team.

And yet, those “unless’s” tell me something: there’s a scarcity mindset behind these statements.

A scarcity mindset says that:

We have to fear the future;
We have few options;
There’s a lack of material/money/people;
We have to protect what we have;
We should put the brakes;
We have to be cautious;
Opportunities will be rare;
The alternative is to be foolish.

But the opposite of a scarcity mindset isn’t to be foolish. The opposite is an abundance mindset.

An abundance mindset says that:

We can possess the future;
We have options;
There’s at least one way to get material/money/people we need;
We should advance with confidence;
We can tackle dangers with our vigilance — that is, eyes wide open to spot the bad and fully-equipped to address it when spotted;
Opportunities will be plentiful, over time;
The alternative is to be normal.

Indeed, it’s normal to be under a scarcity mindset. So be on the lookout to catch it before you go too far with it.

Here’s a way to catch that scarcity and rewrite it into abundance:

When you see an unless, change it to an if

“Unless we work hard, something will go bad”.
 — “If we work hard, this is what we will get to”.

“Unless I act as a filter, we won’t be able to take on everything that is asked of us”.
 — “If I bring what is asked of us to the team, maybe there’s a way we’ll eventually get ahead and get upper management to feel they’re winning too”.

“Unless my team listens to my perspective, we’ll miss our target”.
 — “If I share what I know, it’ll equip the rest of the team to better meet our target”.

Small change, big difference, right? It tells your team that you count on them. It presumes that there are options you haven’t found yet. It sets the bar high and it says: there’s bound to be a way to make this work.

A scarcity mindset will leave you wanting more.
An abundance mindset will have you getting more.


This trick of changing a mindset, that’s a trick that sets apart the managers that serve a kick-ass team. More broadly, the trick is about identifying your mental models, those hidden lenses that colour your judgement. If you’re into this stuff, stay tuned for more by clicking the Follow button below, and by clicking the Heart button below to recommend this to others.