The Scarcity Myth (and Why Cooperation Beats Competition)

The Scarcity Myth (and Why Cooperation Beats Competition)

CpIf it’s ever seemed like there’s never enough to go around, you might be staring the scarcity myth right in the eye. But despite how it seems on the surface, there’s more than you think as long as we realize cooperation beats competition.

A Single Orange

There are people who think there is a lack of wealth, goods, food and other things. They buy into the scarcity myth. From their point of view, the only way to acquire something is to compete for it. Life is a competition for limited resources.

There’s a simple story that illustrates a little bit of different thinking involving two chefs who share the same kitchen. Both are working on a deadline when they realize they each need an orange and there is only one left. With no time to go to the store, after a drawn out fight, they finally compromise and split the orange in half, each then making a subpar dish that’s missing some of its crucial ingredients. When they are done, the trash can has half a peel and half an orange, for one chef only needed the fruit and the other only needed the peel.

If they had cooperated instead of competing for the orange, they should have both been satisfied. Cooperation beats competition, but it also does something much more powerful: it overpowers fear.

Fear Is a Creator

Fear is an active creator. Its goal is to have you create the very thing you fear. We’ve all known the person who is afraid of never finding someone so they smother anyone who gives them attention. We’ve seen parents who are afraid their kids will turn to drugs or other bad behaviors so they are so strict and overbearing they cause their kids to rebel and do the very things they feared.

The problem with the scarcity myth is that, like other fears, it is self fulfilling. People that are afraid they won’t have something end up taking from others. Those others then begin fearing and taking from even more people. Everyone starts to fear there won’t be enough so they become more and more afraid of someone coming in and taking what’s theirs, and less concerned about cooperating and working together.

If only they understood that cooperation beats competition, and it’s the antidote to scarcity.

The Better Approach

What if instead of the two chefs simply fighting for resources, they each explained what they were trying to accomplish? Their cooperation would have led to two excellent dishes instead of two subpar ones.

What if the person who is afraid of losing partners simply addressed their fears head on? Instead of getting jealous and stewing if they saw someone check their phone constantly during a date, they could have a little faith and simply say that it makes them concerned something’s up. They might find out the other person is excited to hear about a possible job offer. It may spark a wonderful night of conversation.

What if the parents who are worried for their son spent some time trying to listen? What if they focused not on what they wanted for their son, but what was best for the person he truly was? A little cooperation can go a long way.

When we fall for the scarcity myth, we are letting fear take the reins. We make it us against them. There is a better way.

Cooperation Beats Competition

Fear creates the things we fear when we feed it. Hope works the same way. When we’re afraid, we compete with each other for the same resources. When we’re hopeful, we cooperate with each other to find new solutions.

The problem with the scarcity myth is it focuses us on one thing and one thing only: how do we get what we want? We see a problem and we only wish to remove the problem.

Hope and cooperation, on the other hand, leave all the possibilities open. They aren’t worried about the problem because they realize there are multitudes of solutions. And, whereas a scarcity mentality leaves only the possibilities one person can dream up as they fight for their piece of the pie, hope and cooperation allow everyone to offer solutions.

Don’t fall for the scarcity myth. If you worry there isn’t enough to go around or you feel fear knocking at your door, don’t fall for it. Remember, cooperation beats competition. Be solution-focused. Work with others to find new solutions. You may be surprised what unexpected options become available to you.

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About the author

David is a father, speaker, blogger (obviously), and author of How to Create Amazing Presentations sharing the tools, tips, and techniques of the experts to make you an amazing presenter, 7 Steps to Better Relationships built on the stories and lessons on this blog with seven easy steps to help you maximize your interactions with the people you care about most, and The Man in the Pit to help you care for loved ones struggling with depression.

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