It’s slowly becoming common knowledge amongst business owners: Stay positive and believe in “Abundance”. It’ll make you more successful. The Secret, ya know?
You’ve heard it. Hopefully you’re waking up to the gratitude and abundance movement and using it to make your life and business better. Or has something not quite clicked yet?
Brace yourself for a shocking truth: You can focus on abundance all you want but if you don’t take care of the flip side of the coin, your efforts will be about as effective as “positive thinking” in a war zone.
Are you doing battle with Scarcity?
I often gleefully tell clients that I am “Officially not a fan of Positive Thinking”. Why? Because it’s been over done. A relentless commitment to positivity actually means you’ll develop a form of emotional numbness. The numbness is a blind spot, preventing you from receiving the signals your unconscious mind sends you. The signals telling you something is wrong.
The very same thing is happening with the abundance movement. Entrepreneurs have convinced themselves they have to believe in an abundant world. They have to visualize great success and a shiny Ferrari in their future. They have to “invest in themselves” now and not worry about the future.
All this is good stuff. There are good arguments to be made in support of these ideas. But there’s something you need to know…
Simply committing to an attitude of Abundance doesn’t equate to defeating Scarcity.
Scarcity runs deep. It’s conditioned. It lies close to that most lizard-ish part of your brain. It speaks through cold sweats, stomach jolts and pinhole pupils. It’s a devious and cunning adversary that slithers silently on it’s greasy belly.
When you’re blasting your mind with heavy metal abundance, it’s almost impossible to hear that scarcity slither. But it’s there.
I know this because positive thinking, enlightened and smiley entrepreneurs are feeling the lash of Scarcity’s forked tongue in spite of all the Abundance they believe in.
Recently, a client told me a tale of Scarcity killing a huge opportunity dead in it’s tracks.
Details are obfuscated to protect identity, but here’s the story:
Sandy, an entrepreneur rocking a B2B business model in a highly publicized industry was pitching key decision makers at an organization she was hoping to acquire as a client.
She had been invited in to consider pitching for a project that was being “put out to market” to 2-3 of her competitors plus her. The best pitch would win the deal – a sizeable chunk of work and a shot at forming a long term vendor relationship with this (big deal of a) client.
Sandy is new at this game – she’s only been in this business for a few years. Client contracts are thin on the ground and she starts feeling the (reality!) of really needing this win. She tells herself she needs it bad.
The thought of the three other competing vendors eats away at her. She thinks of them as bigger, better and more experienced. She starts to realize the truth: She doesn’t have a shot… unless… she wins the deal by being the cheapest!
So Sandy makes a decision based on scarcity. To put in a bid well below 30% of what she knows the market rate is. She tells herself she has to do this, to win the contract and a shot at building a relationship with a client.
If this story resonates, its because it’s the tale of Joe Entrepreneur-Everybody:
You have a shot at the big time, feel afraid of missing out and listen to the fear lizard. More often that not, this results in entrepreneurs woefully underselling themselves.
The lizard believes there’s no other way to compete besides “cheaper” – a belief based on the flawed idea that you can’t possibly be better.
In the case of this client of mine, the prospective customer actually came back to them to ask if they had understood the scope of the project brief. They said that they were willing to go ahead with them as the preferred vendor but checked: Are you guys sure you can deliver at this price point?
The response couldn’t have been scripted better. The customer themselves couldn’t fathom how far down the lizard had dragged this particular entrepreneur down.
This is a cautionary tale, because my client almost missed out on the contract entirely by lowballing themselves so much they almost weren’t taken seriously.
They forgot the truth that there is a price point known as “too expensive” and another that’s “too cheap”. Both will stop a deal dead in it’s tracks but only the former gives you any possibility to backtrack on your initial proposal.
Scarcity is the enemy here.
It drives business owners to doubt themselves and the value they offer. It convinces you to lower your prices by doubting any insulation you have from competitors, other than bottom line cost.
The point here is that it’s hard to be immune to this stuff. I seldom tell stories this direct about my clients, but I couldn’t resist this one because the person in question is normally so positive and abundant in their mindset.
We all are. You are too. Right up until that moment when you aren’t.
If you want to be truly abundant, you can’t just focus on positive thinking when it’s “business as usual”. You must also condition yourself to identify and destroy scarcity based thinking that strikes at the most pivotal moments of your entrepreneurial career.
Because the lizard is conniving. It’s smart. It knows not to attack your abundant thinking on a day when you’ve not got much going on, you’ve worked out and you’ve said your affirmations. Instead, it waits until you’re tired, desperate and at the negotiation table with everything on the line. Then it pounces.
To truly adopt an abundant mindset, you have to be prepared for such moments. You need to roll with the scarcity punches and learn to anticipate them.
Last week’s post about making effective decisions has everything to do with this. The secret to being ready for a scarcity attack is the planning you do, when you are your best self.
A terrible side effect of positive thinking leads people to believe they’re “on a roll” when they’re feel good, so they almost enter into a state of denial. They don’t want to think negatively, so they go into denial instead – they pretend nothing bad will ever happen again.
The smart entrepreneur (that’s you) prepares for the scarcity lizard when they’re skipping on cloud-nine.
You know that all states are transitory, and Newton told you that everything that goes up must also come down. So don’t try to pretend your mojo won’t.
The simple strategy I encourage my clients to follow is this: Be “emotion savvy” about one month out.
That means having a one month projection of where your business is going. What important (scary) meetings will you have in that time? What big bills will hit you? What risks of being derailed are there?
Now, how can you prepare for those scary events that would otherwise summon the scarcity lizard?
For sales meetings, it’s often as easy as physically printing your pricing chart on physical paper well in advance. Having your prices beautifully laid out and committed to your marketing collateral does wonders for your self confidence. It’s a purely psychological hack and it works!
For all the other stuff, just being conscious of what is coming up will actually help you be more mindful of the lizard. Less scary surprises = less opportunity for it to leap from the shadows.
By shining a light on the financial reality of your business, forecasting sales and overhead, you can give the lizard far fewer places to hide.
Most people will never take the above advice though, because it requires you to swap big scary shocks for a little bit of “negative thinking” every day. If your business isn’t in great shape, it’s kinda uncomfortable to know that all the time.
But it has to be done.
If you want to beat scarcity, you need to lean into the discomfort of knowing your business’s financial reality.
Denial followed by (inevitable) panic isn’t a sustainable or effective strategy.
Forget positive thinking and get real instead. Success will follow, and then you’ll have something to be really positive about.