April 2020 update: I wrote this post in February, when the world was as it was. Pre-pandemic and pre-lockdown and pre-catastophic economic meltdowns. The world is now a very different place, and I hesitated before sharing it, but I think it still has validity. The world has become a much smaller and scarier place for all of us, and much of that is out of our control. But we can control how we think about things. We can hope for a better world, and give thanks for what we have now. There is still abundance, if we choose to look for it.
“People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to … rather than detracts from…our lives.”
So says Stephen Covey (quoted here), author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve never read Stephen Covey, but I intend to start.
The reason I will be reading Mr Covey lies in a Udemy course I recently completed. It’s called “Taking your Business to the Next Level”, and was billed as a course looking at “Why and how to apply Systemic Intelligence in your business to unleash its full potential”. The course – sadly now not offered on the site – was conducted by Alessandro Carli*.
I started the course some time late in 2019, when I started to become aware that my business was not working for me. I’ve written about the new approach I am taking in 2020: going slowly and reflecting on what I really want to be doing. As part of my new year reboot, I decided to finish the course before doing anything more specific.
And there, in one of the last videos, was the key to my year.
Carli talks about how one’s paradigm (mental model) affects how one does business (and of course everything in one’s life). A “machine paradigm” sees a business as a set of parts which need to be “fixed” when something goes wrong. A plant paradigm sees business as a system, in which you invest time and energy so that the business gives you what you want.
A thread that runs through it
He also talks about a “formidable trio”, which interact with each other: “anything that affects one element either viciously or virtuously reflects on the other two synergistically,” he says. The three elements of the trio are self-esteem, abundance and what he calls metaprinciples.
He outlines the interplay between the three like this (an edited excerpt from the course notes):
“A low self-esteem will produce a scarcity paradigm … in turn, we will be more prone to breach the Metaprinciples (basic laws of Nature) … Breaching Metaprinciples will weaken our self-esteem (and) we lose the capacity to stay attached to the empowering vision of an abundant reality.”
The challenge from the course was this: “If you want the Formidable Trio to work for you … pick any of the three elements you feel more comfortable to work with, and make the firm decision to change a single aspect of it.”
And that is what I did. I’ve become aware of how worry affects my life, and that pushed me to think about scarcity (the source of my worry) and abundance (something I find hard to visualise). So abundance is a theme I will be following in 2020. I will be using it as my thread through the labyrinth, the underlying idea behind how I approach things.
But what about worry?
As I wrote in my planning document for the year: “I want to focus on things that I/my business feel blessed with, and find ways to share them without expecting anything in return.”
Trusting to the abundance of the universe is easier said than done for someone who is a born worrier – but I know that I have to do things differently in order to get different results. My approach in all this is very counter to the way I usually do things (which starts with making a long and detailed list). I am pulling on a random string in a ball of wool and seeing where it takes me.
My steps to abundance
For now, these are the steps I have taken, or will be taking, to live the abundant life:
1. I made a vision board. I learned about vision boards from Lindsy Bolus in a parenting course. You get some magazines and a big piece of cardboard. Page through the magazines quickly and just tear out pictures that appeal to you. Then arrange them on the piece of cardboard, and stick them down. Stand back and see what your subconscious tells you. My abundance vision board brought me the concepts of connecting and caring – and (again) the knowledge of how much I like the colour yellow.
2. Daily meditation – I’ve been doing meditation through the Headspace app for several years, so this is not new. But I am really trying to “sit” every day, and to use the time to focus on contentment. Already, I am becoming aware of thoughts that run like this: “I will never (travel to Spain) …”. And I stop and reframe it: “One day, when I travel to Spain …”
3. Started a gratitude journal – I know I am supposed to do this, and I start journals, only to drop them again. I am working on making this a daily habit. As Ryan Holiday says: “Journaling is not just a little thing you do to pass the time, to write down your memories – though it can be – it’s a strategy that has helped brilliant, powerful and wise people become better at what they do.”
4. I am working on how I project my business and myself – focusing on what I can offer, rather than lists of what I can do. That means looking over all the places that I am present online, with an eye to generosity, rather than trying to turn people into clients.
5. The focus is outward, and on other people, and on getting out and about rather than sitting at my desk – but I am also being generous to myself, by being careful to find work that rewards me properly for my time.
I don’t know yet how any of these things are going to pan out, or if they will in fact make a difference in my business and my life. But I am setting sail anyway, and I will be recording my progress here as the year progresses.
Here’s to a rich, warm and giving 2020!
* I have contacted Mr Carli to ask for permission to quote from his course, and for any other way in which I might promote his works. At the time of writing, I’ve had no response. If anyone can put me in touch, I’d be grateful.
Main picture: Yoksel Zok, Unsplash