Do you have a “scarcity” mindset or an “abundance” mindset? What about your company? Your community? There has been research published that indicates people may become either scarcity or abundance thinkers from an early age. It also shows that abundance thinkers do better in life in many ways. Your mindset drives the decisions you make and shapes everything about your life.

This has been a topic of interest to me for a long time. I’ve observed both kinds of thinkers throughout my career. And the subject really came home to me during a recent session with the Pensacola Bay Area Women’s Council of Realtors. The event was Top Gun to recognize top producers. There was an incredible caliber of women at this event. I was lucky enough to sit with Amy Snook, 2021 president of the Women’s Council of Realtors Florida, and Charmaine Hickey, 2021 vice president of the Women’s Council of Realtors Florida. 

I was fortunate that Alexis Bolin asked me to be the keynote speaker for this event. Alexis is a superstar real estate professional. I have always been impressed with her focus on excellence. In fact, when I was president of Baptist Hospital, in Pensacola, Florida I had Alexis present to the leadership team on excellence.   

 I arrived early at the real estate event, and had a chance to listen in and be part of many conversations. In preparing for the talk I was able to get a list of the top agents who would be recognized that evening. I noticed that when people would interact with these top agents they would thank them for their help. The top agents had shared advice with other agents, many of whom worked for different real estate firms. In fact, they likely compete in many ways. It seemed counterintuitive: Why were these agents helping their competition? 

At dinner I sat with some of the most successful agents and noticed that other guests came up to thank them for their help. I asked Alexis about the fact that the most successful agents seemed to be the ones who were most willing to help others. She said, “It comes down to abundance thinking versus scarcity thinking.” Her point was that the most successful real estate agents are those who believe there is plenty of business to go around. 

As she introduced me, she also took time to encourage all the newer agents to get to know the other agents. After the conclusion of the evening, I could see the newer agents being much more comfortable in going up to the top agents and asking to meet with them. What I realized was this: To successful real estate agents, the job isn’t just to sell real estate. It’s also to make the community better. That’s why they’re happy to share their tips for success.

I am fortunate to spend a lot of time working in healthcare. Because the main goal of people in the medical field is to help patients, they are great about sharing best practices with others. A health care professional would never hold back on a technique that could help a patient. It also means people need to be comfortable asking for advice.

Recently I was conducting a session with a large sales team. I had the names and results of the top salespeople. Everyone there worked for the same company. I recognized the top salespeople and asked if everyone knew who they were? Everyone said yes. I then asked the top three salespeople “Who in this room has contacted you in the last year to pick your brain on sales?” There was silence. 

It is easy to not ask. Maybe we assume people are too busy. My barrier I had to overcome is worrying that I would look stupid. Or we may think that people don’t want to reveal what makes them successful. Yet I have found that people who have an “abundance” mindset have no fear of sharing what works. Just ask them. 

When I am in communities, I share with them that a good indication of the future of a community can be learned from the following illustration. There is a big project planned for Community A. The developers have sent out requests for proposals to four architectural firms. Two of the firms are located in Community A, and two are in Community B. The firm that is awarded the contract will have a high-profile project and that means a good amount of revenue for the selected company. So, the developer makes the decision and begins calling the companies. 

A call goes to one of the companies in Community A and they are told they have not been selected. Their response will determine whether the community has a mindset of scarcity or one of abundance. If they are abundance thinkers, they thank the developer for the opportunity and say they hope the other local company got the contract for they will do a great job. If they are a scarcity thinker, they probably won’t say this. They are secretly hoping a firm in Community B was selected. They would rather see an out-of-town firm get the contract than the in-town firm.  

Here’s the point: If you are an abundance thinker you look to learn from others, share advice, and are excited by others’ success. You do not see wins by other companies as a loss for you. You don’t see it as splitting the pie so that you get less; you see it as potential to grow the pie.  

The good news is that even if you’ve been a “scarcity” thinker for a long time, you can do a lot to cultivate an abundance mindset. A few suggestions: 

Call up someone and ask to meet with them to see what you can learn. The Savannah Bananas are a wooden bat collegiate team. They are widely successful. The Blue Wahoos have reached out to them to see what we can learn. While the type of baseball may be different, the goal of a great fan experience is not.  

Build relationships with successful people. For example, send a congratulations note to someone in the same field as you when they have had success. 

Walk the talk. It is very common for people to say they want jobs created in their community. I have been to many meetings where someone gets excited about a new company until they find out it provides a service similar to theirs. I was speaking in a community whose goal was to create a better downtown. We ate at a new downtown restaurant. It had just opened and so far it was the only downtown restaurant. 

At the end of the evening, I spent time with the owner who was planning to attend the workshop I was facilitating the next day. I told him I was going to ask him at the session how he would feel if it were announced that another new restaurant was going to open downtown. He said that he would not like it. I shared the scarcity and abundance philosophy with him. Then the next day I asked him the question. His answer was that would be fine, as it would make the community better and would also make him better. 


Hold up the mirror. If your first thought on a project is getting your piece of the pie, the community will not grow. If you are looking at how to grow the pie your community will have a better quality of life.

Get intentional about giving back. Share your knowledge. Donate. Volunteer. You will find that giving to others doesn’t take anything away from you. In fact, it adds to what you already have and creates a richer, more meaningful, and purpose-filled life. 

Great people, companies, and cities look to grow the pie. Those that don’t may never realize their own mentality of scarcity was the main reason they did not grow; their companies did not grow, and they lived in cities of lost opportunities. 

It is not too late to change the way you look at the world. It may not happen all at once but eventually it will happen. By making the effort to cultivate an abundance mindset you will not only be happier but the world will open up for you in unexpected ways.