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Abundance Theory: Success isn't Finite

I’m a real fan of Instagram. Not only as a consumer of the beautiful images, the shopping tips, make-up advice and inspirational homes, but I also love Instagram for connecting me to other creatives. In the last few months I’ve made a conscious effort to reach out more, connect more. The introvert in me found this really hard, what if they think I’m being needy? What if I put them off? Well the answer to this is: they aren’t. We all want the same things, to find a place to belong, to be included. I’ve kept my connections quite local, to other makers and creators I’d seen and perhaps even met, at shows. It really has been lovely and I feel less alone in this creative business building beast!

But with that, as you reach out more, you also run into the dreaded comparison trap. For me, I saw other potters succeeding, gaining followers, selling out of restocks in minutes, they couldn’t keep up with orders, had to close down customs, they were able to make whatever they saw in their head and people would snap it up. It was demoralising… how did they become so successful?! I became a bit nasty in my own head, thinking, their pottery isn’t even THAT great, they must have just gotten lucky with a big account to share them, maybe it’s all a lie, they don’t even release that much stock… the list went on. I didn’t like myself for it. I quickly tried to put an end to that sort of thinking.

But what took over is something that was a bit harder to shake. The feeling of… I’m too late. There is no room for me. There are already people doing exactly what I do, why should I feel I have a place. They have had years more experience, they are better than me, I’ll never be that good. I might as well just quit now.

Well that was a 180… and a bit of a mind boggle, how does our attitude shift so vehemently?

Enter, Jen Sicero and her audiobooks. She introduced me to the terms Abundance Theory, and it’s evil nemesis, Scarcity Theory. And I was stuck in the Scarcity Theory. I viewed that there was a scarcity of success. It was limited. The Universe only had enough places at the table for X number, and I was X+1. Too late, too little. I’d have to undermine one of the others to gain my own place. Now I could see why my mind went so quickly to find faults in my community, I thought ‘One day, I’ll have to replace one of these…’ What a depressing thought.

But for a minute I want to look back at why we may think this… In August 1997, I was 12, it was the first week of school, and I wanted to join the volleyball team. There were 30 of us who went to try outs, and I was far from the most athletic. Only 25 made the team. I wasn’t one of them. There were 25 spots and I wasn't as good as the others to get a spot. So from a young age, manmade constraints made Scarcity Theory real for me. But let me go on to tell you, I then applied for a winter volleyball club, where I learned skills that made me better at it, and the next year, I made the team. Abundance theory… the universe had given me everything I needed to succeed, why I thought I could succeed the first time, after never doing a sport in my life, actually avoiding it in the past, this attitude was what I needed to re-align. Abundance theory meant that if I aligned myself in a positive way and took action, I could attract success. And what other people did had no factor on this! Actually aligning myself in a club of other good players helped me achieve my success.

{I could go on about university application, job hunting, buying your dream house… they all are ways we learn Scarcity Theory in our life… but that may be my Psychology and Sociology background coming back and all for another blog post!}

So the way Scarcity Theory drives me to feel about others, in my past and now on social media, was unpleasant and made me rethink my use of Instagram and the feelings it brought up. I started to unfollow a few people along the way to stop the feelings it brought up (mainly jealousy). (Sorry Katie Cardew...)

But through the audiobook, I realised, I needed to embrace a new belief, a new religion. I needed to believe in Abundance Theory. That the world is full of opportunities. They are endless (and not scarce), and success isn’t finite. Just because one person was successful, did not mean there wasn’t room for another successful creative… if anything, it should prove what I wanted to do was possible! It was immediately a freeing thought. And so it also opened me up to explore further than my local creators, I found podcasts, creative coaches, newsletters, all sharing their thoughts on how to be successful and I realised… we all want others to succeed! We aren’t in competition, and in fact a community of like minds can propel you further than a single mind.

So, I try to practice the theory of abundance now. I say practice, because, let me tell you, it ain’t easy. I still am guilty of being jealous of others’ successes. I see someone launch something I had grand plans of one day doing, and have said out loud to my husband ‘I’m too late! They’ve already done what I wanted to do!’ and he gently reminds me that the universe aligns to what I need when I need it. So for now, I will keep building, and getting better, and using my new network of insanely talented creatives, to propel me.