Building a Life of Abundance

When I was a kid I thought we were well off. As a real young kid, like 4 and under probably, my dad was able to stay home with us. My mom worked but was always around in the summer. We got to go camping and to visit family. As I got a little older I was still sure we had more money than we needed. We were able to take camping vacations in other states and would go see some attractions. We were together seemingly all the time which didn’t leave much time for cooking so we had lots of meals that came from a box with a can or frozen bag of veggies. When both of my parents started working they still didn’t have to work in summer and we had family kick ball games and campfires. My parents never complained about money and when they didn’t buy me something I thought was critical to survival they would just explain why it wasn’t needed or that I could save my own money to get it. As I got older and saw my friends and their parents view of money a lot of them seemed to spend much more of it but never feel as though they had enough. To this day I have no way of knowing who had more and it didn’t matter, we were rich, we lived a rich life regardless of what the bank account or brand of sneakers had to say about it.

I know my boys think we’re rich. Not for what we’ve bought them but for moments like this, dropping everything to play baseball at a nearby church.

I use some version of this example all the time. Living a life of abundance and feeling rich have very little to do with the actual amount of money you have. Likewise, working with abundance has little to do with how much support, tools, and resources you have. Those who follow need not know how much support is coming corporately and don’t need to know, if you approach leadership richly. I have worked at companies where there were more tools than you can believe, others where the idea of leadership (and was needed to do it well as opposed to manage) wasn’t even on the radar, and still others that run the gamut of in-betweens.

Working in a large corporate environment where every new leader was flown to the home office for a week of training what it means to lead well, why it’s important, and how to do it didn’t seem to yield consistent results. There was follow up consistently and leaders got great resources on how to handle different situations and changes. As an employee in a company like that you either felt valued, developed, and heard or slighted, stunted, and silenced depending on how your leader felt. If they were leading from a perspective of richness and abundance, you were feeling it to. In companies that were either smaller or just didn’t have the focus or resources to devote to leader development, you saw the same thing. Whether those you lead are employees or children (or both), taking an attitude of having a voice, ability to grow and advance, you know, overall richness and abundance of opportunities, will allow them the same lens to see the world.

So if you’re not in that place yet yourself, how do you do that?

How do you change your mind?

Here are my top three ways to live in abundance and share that life with others.

  1. Truly feeling content with what you have and exposing that content feeling to others. OK I know, right off the bat my suggestion is to ‘feel’ different and you don’t exactly have control over that… or do you? When you look at the positives and approach life from a place of gratitude you will change how you feel. If you want to go deeper on either of these ideas, go back and read my how to’s around gratitude and positivity.
  2. Having a plan and goals that you’re consistently working for. Whether we’re talking money or career, have a big goal you’re working toward and a plan on how to get there. The goal should be anything that speaks to you and is big enough to take a while, probably years, to accomplish. When I was a kid the goal my parents had was to build a house. We talked about it all the time and while I didn’t always understand why it took so long to save for it to become a reality I did connect that we made decisions that supported that goal. As an employee I understood our goal to be quality and production, while I didn’t understand every decision made I could see it through my leaders lens of one, or both, of those things. My leader also had her own personal career goals that I didn’t have the details on but could clearly see that she viewed her career as having continued opportunities and that I could, dare I say should, do the same. Now as a leader my goals for my team are quality and influencing change and like what’s been modeled for me, I share the importance of career progression with them as well.
  3. Understanding that the excitement comes in working toward something, not necessarily in the achievement of it. This is the fun part about the goals and the plan, it doesn’t actually matter what it is. A new opportunity, better than you could have even planned for at the time, or a shift in priorities on your way to your original goal is totally acceptable and amazing. It isn’t about actually getting to the goal, its about what happens to you and those around you on your way there. The excitement, the feeling of contentment, and the drive for more comes in the pursuit of what you’re after, not in getting it. Chasing down that big goal, and encouraging those around you to do that too, will help you live into your abundant life.

All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t make the most of the resources (be they financial or leadership tools) you have. I also don’t want to diminish the privilege associated with having those resources. However, your attitude and the influence you have over others with your attitude is not tied to the amount you have. You determine if you’re living a life of abundance, regardless of how much you have.

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