Amplifying “Abundance Theory”

This morning’s web surfing brought me the following blog post:
Guest Blogger

Abundance theory in the workplace

By Naphtali Hoff on December 9th, 2015 |

“He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.” ~ Confucius

A few years back, I made the decision to shift careers from school leadership to that of executive coach and consultant. To that end, I enrolled in a doctoral program studying human and organizational psychology. In my first course, I was told to interview someone who was in the same field that I sought to pursue and ask that person a series of questions relating to their career path…This woman’s behavior not only helped me to get started but she also inspired me to rethink a lifelong script that had become part of my inner thinking and attitude. I refer specifically to scarcity theory.

Scarcity theory, a term coined by Stephen Covey, suggests that everything in life has its limit. Whether that thing is a spot on the team roster, a scholarship, a job, customers, funding, promotions or something else, we need to hoard as much as possible for ourselves because there is simply not enough to go around. This same theory also says that there are limited ways to achieve success, and that anyone who wishes to make it must follow the same path and prescription that others have done previously.

In contrast, this coach, through her word and deed, demonstrated to me a living illustration of what Covey labeled abundance theory, or AT. Abundance theory is a mindset that looks at each glass as half full (at least) and sees the world as offering endless opportunity.

To the abundance theorist, there will always be room on the bench for one more player, and that the new guy will not detract from their ability to earn a livelihood or achieve other professional or personal goals. The world offers plenty; our job is to know how to go out and find it, then share some of it with others…Read whole post

Nicely done, Naphtali. Encouraging us to reorient around abundance instead of scarcity opens exciting opportunities for sharing, collaborating and “synergizing”. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to abandon the idea of limits entirely so let’s enhance your thesis.

In the physical/material world that we inhabit on a daily basis there are limits and scarcities. If I have one potato and I eat the whole thing I cannot then give it to you. In contrast, if I know how to grow potatoes there is no limit on how far I can share this knowledge. We tend to categorize things as “material” (limited, countable, e.g. potatoes, computer chips) or “abstract” (unlimited, without number, e.g. truth, love, beauty). In the digital age we also need an “informational” category. These things (e.g. know-how or software) can be replicated and transferred to others at little or no marginal cost. They are intrinsically abundant unlike material objects which eventually become scarce. However, instances of informational objects can be counted, they have boundaries or limits. Social institutions, such as copyright law, can make them artificially scarce. AT thinking leads us to open source our informational creations enabling more circulation of our truly-scarce, material, planetary resources. This increases our personal experience of abundance. Scarcity thinking encourages hoarding, making laws to permit control of the informational as if it were material.

Humanity has an urgent need to incorporate Abundance Thinking into our economic institutions. Failure to do so is creating concentration of wealth among the few even as we see poverty and unrest blossoming among the many. This blog is an unlimited space to address this problem.

Thank you, Naphtali, for being part of the solution.


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