• Curt Mercadante

A scarcity mindset is the enemy of creativity

Have you heard the old Soviet-era joke about the two neighboring farmers?

Both farmers were of the same age.

Their land was similar in size and fertile ground.

They both started out with the same resources.

Both also started out with one cow each.

One of the farmers, however, built a farm that was much more productive than his neighbor's. As a result, he was able to afford a second cow.

One day, the other farmer found a lamp, rubbed it, and a genie appeared.

"You are now my master, and I will grant you one wish," announced the genie.

The farmer smiled with glee.

"Would you like more riches? More freedom?" asked the genie.

The farmer thought about it for a second and replied, "I have a neighbor who has two cows. I only have one. My wish is for my neighbor's second cow to get sick and die."

Yes, it's dark humor.

And I suspect that some people reading this today will not even get the joke.

In my book, I refer to people who have a similar mindset to the second farmer as "Scarcity Pimps." They are envious and would rather bring everyone else down to their level.

Rather than believe everyone has the potential for abundance, they would rather that everyone wallow in mediocrity, perhaps in the name of "fairness."

They see the world as a fixed-size pizza pie. If you get a bigger slice, even based on your work and creativity, they see you as stealing from their portion of the pie.

In reality, history has shown that humans are creative enough to make more or bigger pies. But Scarcity Pimps would rather focus on the "unfairness" of your slice.

This type of scarcity mindset is the enemy of creativity.


Last week, I posted about how using the "Yes, and..." principle of improv comedy can help you to unleash your creative flow.

Here's how that applies to the above example...

When notice that your neighbor is more prosperous than you, instead of saying, "yes, I know, and I hope his cow dies..."

You say, "Yes, and I wish him well and I'm going to follow his example by working harder and smarter to unleash my prosperity, too."

If you simply curse your neighbor and wallow in your self-pity — the only thing you're creating is anger, resentment, and the likelihood that your neighbor will continue to surpass your achievements.

Would it be wonderful if we were all guaranteed equality of outcomes? Maybe.

But haven't we already tried that experiment numerous times in various countries across the globe? And didn't those systems attempt to even use force to guarantee such "equality"?

True creativity isn't about equality of outcomes. Creativity is uncertain. It produces uncertain results.

Some creative people have bigger audiences. Some have smaller audiences. Some only find their audiences after they've left this earth.

If you create something that is going to benefit a billion people, odds are you will receive monetary value in return that far exceeds the value received by someone who creates value for a hundred people.

Neither of those creators is "better" than the other. They've just created different value.

You could focus on the "unfairness" of that situation, or you could focus on creating more value.

In closing, here's yet another Soviet-era joke...

A magical fish offers to grant one wish to a Russian peasant.

The peasant is wondering which treasures he should request from the fish.

Then, the fish explains that whatever the peasant wishes for and receives himself, his neighbor will receive double.

The peasant says, “Ok, then I want you to poke out one of my eyes.”

A scarcity mindset is the enemy of creativity.

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