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Abundant Thinking At Work


The people we work with deserve to be surrounded by abundant thinkers. Is that you?

You don’t have to answer. We all know people at work or at places where we have worked who sucked the life out of the room with negativity and doomsday thinking. On the other hand, I hope we all know people who help us reframe our thinking to be more positive and productive. 

Having positive thinkers around us at work allows us to be more adventurous. If we suggest something creative or risky, these coworkers will find the best parts of these ideas and help us build on them.

These coworkers help bring out the best in us and everyone around us. They show abundance thinking at work.

Abundant thinking is more than seeing the glass half full. That may be where it starts. The adage of the glass being half full or half empty is a great metaphor for how abundant thinking at work shows up in people, projects, policy, and organizational accomplishments. Abundant thinkers see possibilities and strengths, whereas scarcity thinkers see weaknesses and impossibilities. 

A scarcity thinker might believe that “If someone else has more blessings, opportunities, etc., there is less for you. People with a scarcity mindset believe they must hold on to whatever they have now because it might not come around later.” (www.byrdie.com)

Abundant Thinking At Work

Focus on What We Have

Successful businesses plan for the future and review past performance to become better at delivering value. In doing so, we can become consumed by reliving the past we cannot change, and by studying a future we feel we need to capitalize on. This preoccupation with the past and the future can rob us of valuing what is right in front of us. This is not an example of abundant thinking at work.

When this happens, we can fail to value how much we are doing and how far we have come as an organization. In his book, The Gap and the Gain, Dr. Benjamin Hardy refers to this as valuing the gap over the gain. He points out how as organizations and individuals, we can lose sight of how well we are doing when we focus only on the performance gap to be overcome, through guess what? Performance review and forward planning.

While I believe in reviewing performance and future planning, we also need to find the time and discipline to press the pause button on what ‘The Four Disciplines of Execution’ calls the whirlwind. If we don’t know what the whirlwind is, it is that avalanche of activities that keep us from collectively reflecting and learning so that we can improve organizational performance. That rush of activities hits us the moment we return from professional development, intent on changing how we work, only to fall back into the same patterns we were committed to changing.

We need to create the space and the time to press pause and allow our leaders and coworkers to truly reflect on past performance and understand the process-related issues and the people-related assets each organization possesses. We can then actively and intently plan how to best use our existing assets and strengths for the good of the organization and the people of the organization. 

Surround Yourself with Positive People

We may have heard the phrase: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That phrase gets to an aspect of abundant thinking that can be misunderstood. If we are abundant thinkers, shouldn’t we share that abundance with others? Well, yes and no. Our abundant views may help shift or lift someone else’s thinking. No, our abundant thinking can be confused with arrogance or naive thinking.

Steel sharpens steel. If we want to progress with our ideas and projects at work, we should surround ourselves with people who will speak life into our dreams at work and not provide us with all the reasons why things will not work out like we think they will.

With that said, let’s not confuse positivity with, yes, people. ‘Yes’ people will say yes to our ideas simply because they associate accepting our ideas with their acceptance as people. Instead, we should look for those rare individuals who can speak positivity about our projects and ideas and challenge our thinking with perspectives we may not have considered.

Steel sharpens steel. If we want to be the best version of ourselves, it means periodically facing the fact that we are not great all the time. Sometimes we are just going to suck. When that happens, who at work lifts us? If our cadre of friends jumps into the pity pool with us, who will save us from drowning in pity?

Becoming the best versions of ourselves requires having people around us who care enough about us to shine a light on our blind spots and to help us improve our skills at work through coaching and support. 

Practice Gratitude at Work

Say thank you as often as you can. Yes, we all have duties at work. We get paid to be there. And it is also a community, and in a community, we have a responsibility to support each other. So, say thank you whenever you can. It helps to create a positive and warm community, and it might just be the only positive thing that one of our coworkers has heard on that given day.

One practice I have come to enjoy is telling someone that I appreciate a specific strength of theirs. It does a couple of things. One, it lets another person know how they are showing up in the workplace. Two, it shows that we are paying attention. And more than just paying attention. We are grateful for how they show up at work.

Another practice I have worked at is finding the silver lining in every project. The nature of working for someone else is that we cannot always do only the fun stuff. Occasionally, we have to work on tasks and projects that, while technically able to do, the tasks themselves are not very fulfilling.

However, I challenge us to find a project or task from which we can’t learn something. Difficult tasks can be the best places to discover a piece of learning we had not even considered learning. 

Seeing the Big Picture

See the Big Picture

Seeing the big picture allows us to look at work fresh perspective. If we look at our tasks and projects without context, we can become frustrated or confused about how our work fits into the overall efforts and successes of the organization – the big picture. To gain this perspective, it can be helpful to review the organization’s mission or vision statement and ask ourselves how our work helps to support these foundational principles. 

Sometimes our work aligns with our mission and vision, and there will be times when it just doesn’t seem to align. If there is more misalignment than alignment, there may be cause for concern. It may be time for a change.

However, even when there is a large amount of misalignment between our mission and the organization’s mission, we should be able to identify and catalog those areas where there is a significant overlap between what we value and what the organization values. If there is no overlap, this may be an area of concern (theleaderstore.com)

How do the current matters fit into the bigger picture? Asking this question can help create awareness about context and bring greater meaning to our work. When we are willing to pause and ask this question, it can help to maintain our perspective on our work and produce quality results that support the organization, and help to maintain a feeling of connectedness between the organization’s goals and our work. 

See the Possibilities

To see the possibilities, sometimes we have to look beyond the current state or performance of the organization. It almost requires a group dream about what is possible instead of a group nightmare about what we think is happening. As I shared earlier, there are real advantages to pressing the pause button, and this is one of those times. In this instance, we are taking time to think, dream or visualize a better future and then articulate that in a way that it can become a shared vision.

Supporting this process may require us to look past the current inconveniences. If we think about possibilities from an abundant mindset, we are one step closer to seeing a better future and then striking a path toward that future.

If we look at possibilities through a scarcity lens, we may not be able to see the forest (a possible future) for the trees (the current inconveniences or obstacles right in front of us). We need to know that a set of possibilities that we have not fully seen yet exists beyond that obstacle right in front of us.

We also need to look beyond our current performance. Our current performance can predict future performance as an organization or an individual. It is NOT a guarantee of future performance. We have a lot to say about future performance, starting with understanding but not bowing to our past performance. We can decide tomorrow, today, or even right now; that we can and should improve the results we deliver at work.

Flip the Script

To decide that we want different results at work, we might have to change the lens through which we view our work. Do we view our work as just something we do, or do we view our work as an important element in the organization’s success? Are we doing work that is the highest good for the organization?

We can adopt an abundant mindset by declaring our intention to do so. The declaration ​to ourselves creates certain accountability. It can be done through journaling, verbally, or by writing to others (theleaderstore.com). However, if we decide to flip the script, we should be intentional about trying on a new behavior that will serve our organizations and ourselves more effectively.

We can start a new work habit or behavior any day. Upon reflecting on our performance, we might grab a book and find a hack or tip we want to incorporate tomorrow. The beauty is that we don’t have to tell anyone else we are doing something different. They will notice if our work is highly involved with their work. If our work is fairly independent of others, we might be the only ones who know that we have flipped the script until we share that fact with someone else.

Believe In Ourselves

Work is continually evolving. With so much change, it can feel like we are being left behind or that our skill sets are obsolete. If we have learned how to adapt in the past, we can learn how to adapt now. This is an example of abundant thinking at work.

Change is hard. We need to give ourselves some grace. We can start small with daily pausing for a second or two and asking ourselves how our actions fit into the bigger picture. Change is hard and needs to be sustainable for it to be lasting. Start small and add to your practice of abundance daily.

“One of our greatest assets is the ability to learn about and improve ourselves continually. Through the self-examination process required to find out where our strengths and weaknesses lie, we gain better insight into who we are. This, in turn, increases our level of self-awareness.” (Success Starts Within)


Our coworkers deserve to be surrounded by abundant thinkers. We can be those thinkers. 

Decide today that you want to embrace a mindset of abundance and show up for your coworkers in a way that supports them and your organizations.

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