A mistake I repeatedly make is believing there is not enough of something to go around. I believe this flawed mindset is easier to see in business settings than in education, but it happens. It’s easy to see how the idea of market share leads to a scarcity mindset, but less obvious how public education can breed scarcity views.
One way the scarcity mindset showed up for me was in how I wanted to be the teacher kids confided in. I wanted to be the teacher kids came back to visit. I wanted to be their favorite. What I missed was how different kids have different needs. I missed how some of my colleagues were better at meeting certain needs than I was. I missed that I was part of a team. I don’t need to be their favorite teacher, I need to do my best to help students continue to grow.
My early blogging efforts were also largely informed by scarcity views. I desired more followers, more “likes”, and more retweets. What I’ve found is that if I write what has meaning for me, the likes and followers matter less. A scarcity mindset makes us focus on extrinsic outcomes and turns everything into a competition. Yet, just like teaching is a team effort, I find the community around social media is much better than anything I can accomplish by myself.
A scarcity mindset also shows up in scholarship efforts. Striving to be the first to make a certain claim or establishing oneself as an authority by attacking others’ work is a hallmark of the scarcity mindset. Indeed, the need to be the first to make claims has led to ridiculously long discussion sections in which authors proclaim grandiose ideas well beyond what their data can support. No wonder the public grows wary of scholars. Clearly, there can be more than one authority in any given area and if we are really scholars, we should be seeking to build our collective understanding and seeking how our work interacts with the work of others rather than trying to establish primacy.
Chasing accolades is tiresome. While I can’t say that I’ve completely moved on from a scarcity mindset, I know I am a lot happier when scarcity isn’t driving me.