The Power of Story: Scarcity vs Abundance, What’s your meta?

What’s your meta-story?

I was working with a client going through a difficult point of transition and acquisition. As Helena looked at the choices, it struck me that her meta-story was one of scarcity. There are few options and none are optimal, everything we have built will be lost.

She was worried about her function. How would her team do in this new culture and structure? Who would survive? What about the client sites? This way of working would surely impact the ability to operate and deliver, leading to lower revenue and a damaged business pipeline. She was stuck.

scarcity meta-story might lead to narratives such as:

  • I am not enough (eg to deliver what’s required), they aren’t capable;
  • I don’t having enough time, money, resources, things; or
  • There isn’t enough to go round.

An abundance meta-story on the other hand might read:

  • I have some strengths I can bring to this situation;
  • We have enough time and resources, what can we do?;
  • There is enough for everyone.

How do these two meta-stories impact?

Whatever the reality, whether you have the career choices you would like at this point or not, whether the deadline is feasible or unattainable, whether you have the resources you need, the meta-story you hold impacts on how you approach the situation and the possibilities you generate.

This is the impact I have noticed in my work (not a scientific study, I hasten to add)

For Helena, bringing a mindset of abundance brought with it warmth and compassion where before there had only been fear and stress.

It enabled Helena to unstick, and move.

Other clients, like Tom, experience a scarcity mindset when it comes to transitioning to a challenging new role, from a senior manager to executive board level.

Here the scarcity meta-story that can be triggered is: “I’m not good enough”; “What if I’m found out”; “I don’t’ know everything I need to know for this role”.

Nobody ever does know everything. An abundance mindset helped Tom confidently step into a challenging new role, open to the learning and growth on offer.

What’s the meta-story that you hold for yourself?

What’s the meta-story that you are building for your team?

When you speak with your direct-reports or your team, what meta-story are you using to guide them? Whichever story it is, it will impact profoundly on how those around you interact and behave.

Scarcity as a team meta-story: competitiveness, hoard what you know, hide risks, hide when things go wrong, individuals working in the same space – but not connected – focused on individual contribution and individual outcomes.

Abundance as a team meta-story: sharing, high performance focus, learning with and from each others’ experiences, seeking creative input, holding each other to account, strong interpersonal connections galvanized by a shared sense of purpose.

A meta-story of scarcity or abundance is unlikely to be the only underlying difference in these two scenarios, but one thing I am certain of, a mindset of abundance is generative, will enable you to do much more with what you’ve actually got and feel much more connected and content whilst you’re doing it.

Try dialling up your sense of personal and universal abundance and see what happens.

What’s the meta-story that you are living in the world?

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely to be in the top 10% on the globe in terms of wealth.

A meta-story of scarcity means even though we have so much, we hoard, consume so much more than we need, separate ourselves from others and our planet.

And as we’re on route to self-destruction as a species. Perhaps a mindset of abundance is more than a nice to have, it’s perhaps a necessity.

Try it.