Abundance vs. Scarcity
When you think of truly great work—great art like writing, painting, music—what comes to mind?
Harry Potter, Starry Night, and Hurt by Johnny Cash come to mind for me.
In real art, there’s a magical quality to it. It’s on a different level than the rest; it has a certain indefinable, almost ethereal essence to it.
This is abundance.
When someone creates something from a place of abundance, they’re charging their work with a lifeblood that’s noticeable and intriguing to people. It’s what sets the truly genius work apart from the good work.
There are two types of work: that created from a place of abundance and that created from a place of scarcity.
Creating from abundance means, simply put, you know you’re enough. It means you trust that the answers will eventually bubble to the surface even if you have no idea how and when. It means that you’re giving everything you have to your work—knowing and trusting your cup will be refilled when it’s low. Abundance means believing that giving away what you have actually leads to more.
Creating from a place of scarcity means you’re not sure where the next batch of energy and inspiration will come from. It means you’re doubting you’ll be refilled if you give what you currently have. When you hold on to what’s inside of you, it begins to fester. We are meant to give in order to make room for more. But scarcity means you don’t know if there will be more—or even if there’ll be a next time. When you hold on to and hoard what you have, the things you create have a sense of lacking. In order for it to thrive, your work needs everything you have inside of you. When you try to hold back and keep that for yourself—keep it “just in case” you won’t get more—it’s obvious. It creates a void.
Holding back leads to lacking. Giving fully leads to getting.
But how do you shift from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance so you can create the work you were born to create? Here are the three main parts of creating from abundance:
1. Don’t let your results dictate your worth
There’s one caveat to creating from abundance—it doesn’t guarantee perfection. If you show up and sit down to work day after day—giving everything you have in your heart and mind—you’ll still be met with flops occasionally. You could leave your entire self on the page, only to read over your words and find they just aren’t working.
But the results—the expected outcomes—are not the goal of abundant work.
Part of working from abundance means giving up the expectation that you’ll always get the right answer and the perfect results every time.
Creating with abundance means that even if you write for a month straight and have to scrap every single word you wrote during that time, you still believe you have more to give and you’ll eventually stumble upon the right words.
When you place your worth as a writer—and as a person—in the results you’re getting, you’re working from scarcity.
Abundance means you’re not measuring yourself against your results.
Even though it doesn’t guarantee perfection, chances are that when you repeatedly work from abundance, the results will fall into place. Beautiful results—that magic that seems to course through the veins of true art—is a by-product of creating from a place of abundance.
2. You have to physically show up in order to receive the plenty
We can’t control the exact results that happen from our actions, but we can control how well we show up for ourselves. We can control honoring our decisions—the ones we know are what’s best for us and will get us where we want to be.
In order to receive the plenty that’s waiting for us, we have the be there to get it!
Not starting a project or avoiding writing because we’re scared or overwhelmed is caused by a scarcity mindset. When we act from the belief that there’s not enough—there will never be enough. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: when we believe there’s not enough, we don’t physically show up to write. When we don’t write, we don’t create anything. And when we don’t create anything, we don’t gain anything.
You know that overused expression “inspiration finds you working?” It’s true.
Did you ever spend Christmas away from home when you were little and worried Santa wouldn’t be able to find you, yet he still did?
Unfortunately, abundance doesn’t work the same way. Abundance needs you to be in your seat, working. If you’re hiding, it can’t find you.
In order to receive the plenty, you have to actually be there first.
3. Ask for help
With that being said, saying “yes” to your writing time, putting your butt in the chair, and working with a sense that there will always be enough is just the beginning.
Writing word after word is hard. It’s so hard. It’s scary and exhausting and sometimes beyond frustrating.
But you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t even try to do it alone.
Writing of any kind is a superhuman feat. It requires an extraordinary amount of power, dedication, commitment, resilience, endurance….the list could go on forever.
But where do those things come from?
Unfortunately, you can’t order dedication or resilience on Amazon. I checked.
These superhuman powers come from humility.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of humility lately—specifically, what it actually means. I’ve asked a lot of people and no one can really define it.
Merriam Webster defines it as “not being proud.”
I feel like it’s a cop out to define it by what it’s not. That still doesn’t tell us what it is.
Here’s my theory—true humility is knowing that you’re not strong enough, nor will you ever be, to truly create from abundance.
True humility is asking for help.
Whether you believe in Jesus, Buddha, or the Universe as your ultimate source of goodness, it doesn’t matter. You have to tap into your Ultimate Goodness’s goodness to get the abundance.
True humility starts by admitting you don’t have what it takes to muster up the pure strength or power to do it on your own.
I don’t know how it works—but by admitting that, by becoming humble and letting go of that human pride—you make room for the divine power.
If nothing else, admitting you can’t do it from your sheer humanness will take a heck of a lot of weight off your shoulders.
You can’t do it on your own. You shouldn’t want to do it on your own. When you ask, you’ll receive. Just be prepared for the influx you’re about to get!
4. Leave everything you have on the table
Once you get in the rhythm of showing up, working from abundance, and asking for help, the next step is to leave it all on the table.
Fear, doubt, self-consciousness, and so many other things can make it appealing to hold back just a little bit. Or a lot.
Maybe there’s a topic you really want to explore in your writing but don’t want to open that door because it will be really uncomfortable. Or maybe there’s a story you’re longing to write, but it would reveal just a little too much of you.
Leaving it all on the table—putting out your very best work—is extremely vulnerable.
Saying to the world (and yourself), “hey look! This is the absolute best work I can do” is absolutely terrifying because if it gets criticized or rejected, it feels like you’re being rejected.
But holding back—keeping some things private and not giving your best work—is a form of failure because you’re choosing to not show up.
Have you ever noticed how holding back, trying to take the easy route and choosing to be lazy is just as exhausting as putting in the full effort?
The exhaustion that comes from holding back and the exhaustion that comes from giving it all are very different, but they’re both just as tiring.
Exhaustion from holding back breeds more exhaustion. It creates pain and suffering in your mind and puts a heaviness in you.
We get good at what we practice. Practicing holding back helps you get better at staying in scarcity.
But showing up for a work session and leaving it all on the table, that’s a fueling exhaustion. When you put your head on your pillow at the end of the day, a true satisfaction is running through you. You’re physically and mentally exhausted, but your resolve is fueled.
Your Definiteness of Purpose is strengthened. Your path is made clearer.
What are some ways you’ve changed your thinking in order to show up and create from abundance?
Are there some places in your work or your life where you’re stuck in scarcity?
I’d love to see your experiences with abundance vs. scarcity in the comments!