One of the most overused words in online media today is ‘Abundance’. I cringe whenever I see it used in marketing copy because so many usages for the word are either incomplete or out-and-out misleading. Most talk about money, of course. But if our focus is solely upon financial prosperity, we’ll never get a full picture of what Abundance actually is. For example:
- At an emotional level, having plenty of money but feeling unfulfilled or stressed out is not Abundance.
- At an economic level, being a prosperous nation while others are struggling or starving is also not Abundance.
- At an environmental level, having a plentiful supply of fossil fuels at the expense of clean water is not Abundance.
- And at the level of social and environmental justice, having the latest technologies at the expense of people working in sweat shops, eco-habitats being destroyed, or toxic waste being dumped in the poorest of nations, is surely not Abundance.
Conversely, these incongruities have led many ‘ethically-minded’ individuals to think of money as the root of all problems in the world, and the opposite of Abundance. But this attitude is counter-productive, especially if we are business owners. Money isn’t the issue so much as the matter of distribution and flow. As business owners, it is our responsibility to ensure the distribution and flow of all the goods and services people need to be comfortable, healthy and happy. Abundance isn’t about ‘having’ stuff. It’s about how well we achieve this distribution and flow in the world. Even our word ‘currency’ implies a ‘current’–a flow of energy. When the flow of any form of energy is stopped, channelled or diverted, the balance becomes lop-sided, and the system of Abundance is disrupted.
The answer to the world’s imbalances is not to do away with money or the idea of profit, but to re-examine the eco-system of our economy and create business and marketing systems that foster economic flow.
Abundance and Sustainability
Having said what I feel about the word ‘Abundance’ you’re probably wondering why Abundance is Grace #6 in The 7 Graces of Marketing. The Grace of Abundance is the ‘antidote’ to the ‘Deadly Sin of Scarcity’. It is scarcity marketing in all its forms that creates the imbalances that threaten the natural state of Abundance.
In the 7 Graces model, Abundance is defined as:
‘aiming towards sustainable wealth through economic, environmental and emotional balance.’
True Abundance is all about the balance between these three factors. It’s not an ‘either-or’ choice; we cannot have economic OR environmental OR emotional balance. For Abundance to be present there must be balance in all three areas. Without environmental balance, economic prosperity is simply not sustainable.
We learn about Abundance by looking at Nature. Nature is cyclical, not linear. When the natural balance of energy and resources is permitted to flow, life-forms thrive. Similarly, if we operate within an economic system of continual linear growth, there will always be a point where resources run out and economies collapse. And finally, if we live our personal lives with a mind-set of creating continual linear growth, we will reach a breaking point (often called ‘burn out’) where we find ourselves crashing, confused and having to start all over again.
Abundance is about flow. Flow is maintained by balance. And balance is maintained by dynamic, living systems.
Proposing a New System: 10 Layers of Abundance
As new paradigm marketers and business owners, if we want to aim towards ‘sustainable wealth through economic, environmental and emotional balance’ we’ll need to have a system. Anarchy is not the answer. If we merely break down the old systems without having a system of our own, we’ll fall apart.
To open a dialogue about what might go into our new system of prosperity, I’ve defined what I call ’10 layers of Abundance’. I’m not calling it ‘the’ 10 layers of Abundance, as I’m sure there are infinite layers of Abundance in the absolute sense. But as a theoretical model, these 10 layers can show us a lot about how we prioritise and make decisions. They can also show us what we tend to leave out in our businesses, causing them (or us) to struggle or fail. And finally, they can help us understand how our businesses fit within the bigger socio-economic picture; for when we see ourselves as being outside the system, we can create serious damage through our businesses.
So let’s look at these 10 layers, and consider how they work together.
Layer 1: Abundant MONEY
I had to put money as Layer 1, lest it be the ‘elephant in the room’ as I talk about the other layers. While this layer is often the one ‘old school’ business owners will address first, it is often the one new paradigm business owners will think about last. Surely money cannot be the only component in our system of Abundance, but keeping it out of our system altogether is the kiss of death for any enterprise, no matter how ‘ethical’ or meaningful. If you are a defiant visionary and you want your visions to come into reality, it’s really important to come down to earth long enough to find someone skilled in all that ‘boring’ stuff like figures and balance sheets. Like it or not, money is the vehicle for trade in the world and until we replace it, it’s vital that we include it in our prosperity paradigm.
Layer 2: Abundant SUSTAINABILITY
Financial profit is only meaningful if it is sustainable. Making a quick million and then going bankrupt is not abundant. Amassing great fortunes on oil and causing environmental devastation is not abundant either. Some of the fundamental questions you should ask yourself when you make a business decision should be, ‘Which choice would bring the longest-term income?’ ‘Which choice is not dependent upon finite resources or trends?’ ‘Which choice works best with the pace of the natural world?’ Sustainability is all about the rhythm of prosperity, not the quantity.
Layer 3: Abundant TIME
Time is a precious commodity, but seldom do we figure it into our business plans or prosperity quotient. Most of us are continually trying to ‘find’ time without realising we have to ‘create’ it. To have Abundant time we need to ask questions like, ‘Which choice would be fastest to implement?’ ‘Which choice would give us more free time in the long-term?’ and ‘What is the best use of my time right now?‘
Layer 4: Abundant FUN
Fun is seriously underrated in business. In my observation, the only entrepreneurs who bother to put ‘fun’ into their Abundance formula are multi-millionaires. Consciously or not, most of us tend to think we have to work hard before we ‘deserve’ to have fun. We work for weekends and save for retirement. Then we’ll ‘have fun’, but not yet. If you really want Abundance in your enterprise, ask yourself ‘What would be the most fun?’ Without fun, we’ll never feel truly Abundant in business or in life.
Layer 5: Abundant FULFILMENT
Fun is great, but in the long-term we all want to get a sense of delight in our work. When making a business choice, it’s important to ask, ‘Which would bring the greatest inner reward and sense of fulfilment?’ This is often the layer that new paradigm business owners tend to address first, often at the expense of money. In contrast, this is the layer old school business owners often leave out…until they have a personal crisis and start to wonder what life is all about.
Layer 6: Abundant IMPACT
By impact, I mean social impact. The question here is, ‘which choice or action will create the most meaning and positive social impact?’ ‘Impact’ doesn’t mean you have to change the whole world. You might impact a community, a neighbourhood or a specific demographic. This is the layer that activists, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs tend to address first, often blind to many of the other layers. In contrast, many business owners–large and small–are not even aware that they have an impact on the world, let alone consciously aim towards creating one. True Abundance must include an awareness of our social significance and the ability to create a positive social impact.
Layer 7: Abundant DEMAND
We often hear about ‘market research’ to determine public demand for products and services. Most traditional business owners depend on this information and build their success upon it. But many old-paradigm businesses and marketers create false demand and false needs through scarcity marketing. This is not ‘abundant demand’ but a delusion. Conversely, many new business owners start their business without first knowing anything about the genuine demand for what they want to offer, and then fail because they didn’t know how to communicate their value to the public. When making a business choice, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What do people really need and want, without my creating an artificial desire?’ ‘What would be easy to market and sell to the right audience?’ ‘What already has a proven and plentiful potential audience?’
Layer 8: Abundant EASE
What’s the point of Abundance if we’re continually adding things to our to-do list? Many service-oriented business owners drive themselves into the ground because they’re always trading time for money, thinking they’re ‘serving’ others by doing so. Even if they make a lot of money doing it, it means they’re trapped by their own creation. An Abundant business is one that is easy to maintain and where a substantial part of the income is relatively ‘passive’. Unless you are developing systems that can provide you with a passive income, you will never feel Abundant, no matter how much income you bring in. Ask yourself how you’re making life hard and WHY. Then, ask yourself how you can make it easier.
Layer 9: Abundant SUPPORT
Abundance is not just about money, stuff or even our businesses. It’s about relationships too. How can we feel abundant unless we feel supported, loved, respected or even admired? An Abundant business is one in which we have a vibrant support-system of real people who share our vision and help to make it happen. This can be in the form of friends and family giving moral support, collaborative partners spreading the word, or great teams working together. And in this era of social media, it can also include fans and followers who support you by giving valuable feedback and sharing your content with others. Working without these forms of Abundant support will leave you feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge–rich in money and poor in spirit.
Layer 10: Abundant POSSIBILITY
Human beings have a fundamental desire to dream, to grow and to be challenged. Unless we can see an exciting adventure ahead of us, we become disheartened and fall into dead, monotonous, mechanical lives. When I was in the education sector, I saw this all the time. When senior management became too absorbed in ‘toeing the line’, they lost their vision, which inhibited innovation within the organisation. For teachers, who typically thrive on innovation, vision and a feeling of service, this can be soul-destroying. True Abundance means your world (and your business) is pregnant with possibilities. It’s not just about potential profit, but about opening doors. To bring the Grace of Abundance into your business, you need to ask, ‘How can we magnify our vision? Who can we invite along to co-create this vision with us? How will it increase Abundance for all?’
Stepping into a New System for Abundance
I think humanity as a whole has all the answers we need to address the social, economic and environmental problems we collectively face. But to tap into these answers, we need to embrace a more holistic perspective on wealth. Economic prosperity is a system made up of both practical and intrinsic elements:
- The practical side of economic prosperity is that money is unlikely to come to us without having an Abundance of prospects, support, sustainability and demand.
- The intrinsic side of economic prosperity is that money is unlikely to stay with us without having an Abundance of time, fun, ease, fulfilment and social impact.
In my observation, ‘old school’ businesses and marketers have focused too much on the practical side without enough care for the intrinsic side. Conversely, many ‘heart-centred’ or ‘conscious’ business owners have pushed away the practical side because of their preference for the intrinsic factors. But the only way to make the Grace of Abundance a reality is to embrace both sides and put them into balance.
In The 7 Graces of Marketing, the Grace of Abundance comes after the Grace of Transparency, which is the antidote to the ‘Deadly Sin’ of Deception. This is because we cannot master Abundance until we learn how to unmask our own self-deception around what motivates us in business and in life. If we talk about Abundance, but we base our business decisions upon only a small fragment of its beautifully complex nature, we are only deceiving ourselves. Only through Transparency of Self can we understand the unconscious motivators that drive us to act a certain way. To manifest Abundance in our lives, in our businesses or in the world at large, we will need to master the brutal self-honesty and courage to acknowledge and respect the value of perspectives we once considered to be a threat to our own point-of-view.
The new social paradigm cannot come about without this inner shift. The future belongs to all of us.
So let the dialogue continue…please leave your comments below.
12th July 2013
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)