Have you ever noticed how often we talk about not having enough in our workplaces? We say we don’t have enough money, space, talent, capital, or time. We complain about not getting enough feedback, respect, value, or direction. There’s never enough. We all feel impoverished in some way.
Eckhart Tolle writes, “If the thought of lack–whether it be money, recognition, or love–has become part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack.” Yowza. That is some heavy-duty truth. Put another way: if you believe that you’ll never find a job you love, you’ll never make enough money, or you’ll never be valued for your contributions, then, well, according to this theory, you won’t.
Those beliefs that make us feel small and limited are powerful things. They make us see the world, and ourselves, as a small and limited place. Unfortunately for many of us, we can’t think our way out of this kind of thinking. We have to act. We have to show ourselves that we can live according to a different story – one of abundance, not lack.
Tolle writes, “…Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world. You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give.” I know that can be hard to hear or read for the first time, but if you let it into your being, I bet you’ll start to see how it applies in your life. I’ll give you an example from my experience:
At a former job, I had two co-workers who I mostly really liked, but I felt awkward about pursuing a friendship with them because our organization fostered a sense of competition, and I didn’t know how to handle that. I didn’t know what to do if I wanted to be the best person on our team and be their friend. So I withdrew. I started declining their offers to hang out, I chilled our interactions, and I focused on doing the best work I could. After a while, I did end up being promoted, but I also had zero close friends at work. I felt resentful and sad, and wasn’t self-aware enough to realize that I had been withholding from them for so long that they began to mirror my actions.
When we say that we don’t get enough respect at work, or that opportunities never appear for us, it’s not because those are objective facts. It’s because we’re not recognizing and fostering the abundance that is already within and around us.
So how do we cultivate abundance in our own worklives? How do we experience a career that is meaningful, collaborative, healthy, and abundant? I have a few ideas, courtesy of help from my friends Eckhart Tolle and John O’Donohue:
First, think about what you feel like you’re not getting enough of in your worklife. Let’s say that Sally comes to see me because she wants to find a career where she’s recognized and rewarded more. She’s angry that she doesn’t get the accolades she believes she deserves at work, and she’s ready to go to an organization that sees her for what she’s really worth.
Second, ask yourself if you’re giving away that thing you believe you lack. I would ask Sally what she does to recognize and applaud her colleagues. I’d ask her how she praises others, and how doing so makes her feel. This isn’t meant to be a finger-pointing, blaming exercise, it’s just meant to help Sally see that there’s a coldness, a stuckness there, because I bet she doesn’t actually recognize others very often. She probably believes she doesn’t get enough of it herself to give any to others, which simply isn’t true. She just has to start opening that up in order to see that it’s already within her.
Third, begin to see yourself as someone who has everything you need already inside of you. Sally doesn’t need anything else before she can praise others for their contributions. And once she gives it a try, I think she’ll see that it makes her feel more abundant, more full. John O’Donohue writes that when you begin to open up to the abundance around you, you start to “…realize that you are not the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessings and possibilities you could neither invent or earn.”
Fourth, wake up to the abundance that’s already in your life. Tolle writes, “Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” If you can’t see the blessings that are already present, you won’t be able to see the ones that are to come, whether they’re external rewards like new opportunities, or internal ones like a greater sense of ease. Today, right now, see what you’re already blessed with. Be grateful for it and help your mind begin to recognize abundance around you.
The people I know who have abundant worklives – meaning that they derive meaning and rewards from their work – do two things: they recognize the abundance already around them instead of seeing only lack, and they give fully of themselves instead of withholding and being closed off.
I hope today you’re moved to cultivate some abundance in your own worklife. I hope you’re moved to resist this onslaught of lack and “never enough” that permeates so many of our workplaces and choose to see the wealth around you instead.
Know someone who could cultivate some abundance today? Consider passing this along!