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Ordinary People Taking Action
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For the past week and a half, I’ve taken a little detour from my usual schedule to invest in some training. I was recertified with Insights Discovery last week and I am attending The Leadership Circle certification this week. As a facilitator myself, now acting as a participant, I am reminded again how hard it is to sit and listen to anyone talk for hours. Even the very best facilitators start to sound like they are speaking gibberish after a while. On the flip side, my head is like a popcorn maker full of kernels that’s going to explode with popcorn, I mean knowledge, at any moment.
One of the topics popping around in my head is how we go about problem solving. Specifically, whether we look at problems from a place of scarcity – playing not to lose – or from a place of abundance – playing to win together. According to Gallup, 70% of work culture is created by leadership – their actions, behaviors and tendencies. In my career, I have worked with leaders who operate from a place of scarcity, as well as those who operate from a place of abundance. I almost always prefer abundance.
Imagine you are a police officer and must write a certain number of traffic tickets each month. Without fail, just before month end, you realize you are not on track to make quota. This month, you decide to head to the neighborhood school zone where you know for sure you’ll catch drivers speeding. It works. You make your quota just barely by ticketing the drivers speeding through the school zone. You decide to use this tactic monthly to guarantee you’ll never miss your quota.
This strategy for problem solving is an example of operating from scarcity. We have a problem that poses a threat, we have an emotion of fear and then we react to that problem. Often, those with a scarcity mentality will find themselves in a pattern: same problem, same solution, on repeat. We stay in the loop, rarely looking beyond.
So, what is the alternative? Looking at the same problem from a place of abundance might involve exploring purpose and vision, identifying passion, and then taking action. Coming about the problem from this angle requires more creativity – and time – because rather than just falling into the same pattern month over month to meet your quota, you have to look at the problem more broadly. One could argue that the need to make quota exists to maintain city income for budgets, and speeding tickets generate that income. Yet, is enforcing ticket quotas the best approach?
Another could argue that the vision is to reinforce positive and safe driving, and in the case of a school zone, keeping children safe. So, by this logic, issuing tickets punishes people who break the law, thereby preventing future crime. Yet, if this is the case, why aren’t the police their ticketing more often? Once the vision is clear, it becomes easier to identify the passion to then take appropriate action.
I don’t work for the police department, so I am not 100% sure on their vision for establishing speeding ticket quotas, but it would be a great question to ask. Operating from this place of abundance allows for us to create solutions not just in a one-off manner, but from a bigger picture. The concept of problem solving for the bigger picture keeps us from staying in the same cycle day after day, month after month, year after year.
What is a problem you need to solve?
How might you approach the solution from a place of abundance vs scarcity?
When is it appropriate and needed to operate from a place of scarcity?