Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We Value Generosity and an Abundant Mindset

It's November: a month of thanksgiving and gratitude and the perfect time to highlight another of our core values at Let's Play Music.  We value generosity that fosters an abundant mindset and leads to shared success.

Abundance Mentality or Scarcity Mentality?
These terms were coined by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 
Most people are deeply scripted in... the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit... They also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody...It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

Your mindset in this matter has a profound impact on your physical and emotional health, as well as your relationships and your future.  Adopting an abundance mindset can significantly improve your life!

Teachers Feel Abundance
First I'll point out how this value percolates through our program, starting with our superb teachers.  

You might have expected competition between neighboring teachers in a program like ours.  "There are 50 kids in this town. They can either register for class with her or me so I'll do what I can to show that I'm the best choice!" Ah, that's the scarcity mindset talking, but we're adopting a new mindset.  

Natalie, Kira, and Allison: teachers working together.
"I'm glad this parent values music education.  I want her to find the teacher, class time, and location that works best for her family.  Of course I hope they'll register for my class, but I know that either way, they'll be happy with the experience and share it with ten new children."  We have an abundance mindset that there can be enough teachers to reach the students, and enough students to support our studios.  There is not a zero-sum balance of students who can learn music (when teacher A gets a student, teacher B has one less), but rather there is a snowball effect when we practice abundance (when teacher A registers a student, teachers A,B,C and D are all more likely to reach more students.)  Music class can be for every child, and our abundant mindset leads to the reality of a more musical community.

Let's Play Music teachers also exhibit abundance within their amazingly generous and supportive network. "I have lots of my own ideas for making class special. I could keep them to myself and try to become the best teacher ever, but nobody does that. We share our ideas and answer each other's questions and we create a whole nation of best teachers ever. Another teacher always had students with really great compositions and I wanted to know what she was doing that worked so well for teaching this, so she shared it with me. We made it into a class for all the teachers. Just freely sharing- just being generous."

Parents Feel Abundance
As music parents, do we ever slip into the scarcity mindset? How could it look different?

Has this scarcity mentality thinking entered your mind? "Our teacher is fantastic, but some of those kids in class always need extra help.  When she helps them, my daughter doesn't get as much attention.

I challenge you to change to an abundance mindset. "The teacher divides her time among the children, and it's okay if the time is not exactly equal.  It's fair because the teacher is giving each child what is needed, and that looks different for different kids.  ALL of the children are progressing as musicians.  I recognize the huge benefits for my child to have a musical community of peers to perform with.  I want to foster our success as a class and be happy for them as a group. The teacher shares time with other students, and in the big picture, that makes the experience better for us, too."

Here is another example of scarcity I have encountered. "Resources are tight. There is just not enough time or money to go around to pursue everything we are interested in.  If we pursue one activity, we drop another, and it's really sad." Is it possible to change this zero-sum thinking to a more abundant mindset? I think it is but yes, I have balanced a checkbook, too.  Consider a list of the things you really value and want to pursue with your child.  In this case it might be soccer, ballet, swim lessons, music lessons, or private school tuition.  

Truly, there isn't time or money to have it all!  "I realized we could not make everything happen, at least not all at once.  Some of those activities are still things I want my daughter to try, but I realized there would not be much harm in waiting a few years before getting involved.  We also decided that she wouldn't do any one sport year-round, in order to free up time to just try other things.  When she's older she can get focused if she wants to.  As for music, we recognized it would be a loss to miss out on joining LPM during the age when it is most impactful, so we gave it full priority and found ways to barter and babysit to help pay for classes. We don't feel like we gave up anything, we just take turns, really."  

Another perspective is, "I'm just so very grateful we live in a community bursting with knowledge and opportunities for my child. It's amazing to have the problem of too many opportunities to pursue.  But, just about everything can be sampled during childhood. There is enough time to experience it. It's a good idea to remember that kids have an entire lifetime to focus down and build up excellence.  I give my kids this basic foundation of music and a bit of basic athletics and they can choose where to go with it next."

Teaching Abundance
These are some tough questions (sadly based on some real life tantrums) I put to my own children, to help them see the difference between scarcity and abundance. I encourage them to make a conscious choice to think about situations in an abundant and thankful way.
  • When your sister gets a new winter coat do you feel upset (scarcity) or do you feel happy that she has what she needs to be warm (abundance)?
  •  When your brother opens his birthday presents do you feel angry (scarcity) or do you feel happy to see that he is happy on his special day? (abundance)
  •  When you ask for an ice cream cone and you get one, but then Mom offers one to your sister, too, do you feel angry (scarcity) or can you feel happy that your request was honored? (abundance)
  • When you have a swim race with your brothers and sisters, do you get mad whenever you don't win (scarcity) or can you feel happy for whoever wins? (abundance)
  • When we have cookies for dessert do you try to hide some for yourself to eat later (scarcity), or let everyone share them and because we can make more another day? (abundance)
When you notice your children (or yourself) feeling jealous of someone else, beware! The scarcity mindset tells you that others' happiness must somehow diminish yours.  How is the other person's happiness, success, or possession preventing you from getting your happiness, success, or possession? It's usually not.

When you can be happy for your friends and family because they have what they want, and still be content with what you have, you'll be recognizing abundance.  I hope you have some time this month to look around and feel a sense of thankfulness as you recognize our abundant lives, in music class and everywhere.

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher


  1. Thanks for this article, Gina! I love the way you break down the abundance mindset into specific ways we can challenge our own thinking and that of our children.

    1. And thank you Marianne for passing it along to me! I especially love the examples of teaching abundance to our children and recognizing our jealousies. Thank you!