If you ask what’s my baseline, fundamental belief about the world, I’d have a fairly simple answer.
You see, I believe that there are really only two ways to go through life.
You’re either someone who believes (let’s call them Camp A) that there’s never enough and you can’t trust anything, or (Camp B) you believe there’s plenty to go around and you trust most things.
Camp A’s motto is “I got mine. You go get yours.” Or maybe it’s “I got mine and now I’m going to prevent you from getting yours because there may not be much left and I may want more tomorrow.”
Camp B’s slogan is “I got mine. Want some?” Or maybe it’s “I see you don’t have any. How can I help?”
Since they don’t trust – anything – leaders and managers who come from Camp A tend to micromanage, bully and disparage. They push overwork, over-achievement, over-delivering because it means more for them! But there’s never really going to be enough because “enough” doesn’t exist in their mindset, does it?
Now, people who come from abundance and trust are quite different. As leaders and managers, they mentor, teach and lead by example. They know that trusting employees to work from home or take twelve weeks off after the birth of a baby is an investment in their people’s quality of life and creates high-performing, committed workers.
So, in shorthand:
Abundance means there’s always enough.
Lack means there’s never enough.
Trusting that things will work out for the best means that they often do.
Trusting that things will always go south means that they often do.
The camp you fall into on this defines the quality of your life and the richness of your experience.
Best-selling writer Jonathan Haidt, who’s been called a “top world thinker”, wrote a book called The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom in 2006. In the book, Haidt offers a formula for achieving happiness, represented by:
H = S + C + V
(Math! In a Michele Woodward blog post! Alert the media!)
H stands for your overall happiness. S represents your “Set Point”, C is the conditions of your life (do you have a long commute? A happy marriage? A leaky roof? A bum knee? A beautiful garden?) and V stands for the voluntary things you choose to do (anything you do that brings meaning or brings pain).
And, of course S is all about whether you come from abundance and trust or lack and fear.
The interesting thing is that simply changing one part of the formula makes a huge difference in your overall happiness. Want to guess which one?
That’s right, diligent readers – your set point makes up the biggest part of your overall happiness. So, while you can change the conditions of your life by moving closer to the office, fixing the roof or getting physical therapy for your knee, and you can certainly choose to do more meaningful things, but the real payoff comes from shifting your set point.
Whatever you can do to let go of fear and allow more trust will pay off.
Whatever you can do to remind yourself that there’s plenty of good stuff out there for you will pay off.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Seems like there are plenty of people who will invite you into Camp A, ask you to take a chair and settle in for a long, long sit. They’ll also tell you that people in Camp B are foolish, naive and stupid because the world is a hard place and you have to fight and scratch to get what you need in this life.
But I’ll tell you something – people in Camp B are happy. They really are, profoundly and innately. And they can be productive, successful and at the top of their game. Their lives are not struggles – in fact, their lives seem inordinately lucky, kind of effortless and even blessed.
It’s pretty sweet.
So, how about this? How about you start your membership in Camp B today? Start by noticing when things go your way. Keep track of times when there is more than enough. Remember that all trust begins with trusting yourself – so do what you can to stop the second-guessing, the self-doubt, the self-disparagement.
Step by step, move by move, opportunity by opportunity, you will build your trust that the world is actually full of wonderful things for you, and for others.
There’s plenty of room in our tent here in Camp B, and there’s space for you right here next to me.