How a Scarcity Mindset Led Me Here and Why I’m Leaving it Behind

How a Scarcity Mindset Led Me Here and Why I'm Leaving it Behind

I have always been driven by my inner poor kid.

I’m proud of her.

While some people’s scarcity mentality causes them to get overwhelmed and stuck in inaction, my inner poor kid insists on action. She caused me to get over shyness and learn to put myself out there because she knew it would hold me back from the opportunities I wanted if I didn’t. She’s pushed me to take bold action that scares me, like calling two people a week until I filled my first coaching cohort years ago.

She’s also a source of my creativity.  

While I’ve always been imaginative, my first serious foray into creativity was in middle school. I grew 3 sizes over a summer. We were poor so I didn’t think I could ask my mom for new clothing.

So I began to make my own clothes. And because the clothes I made couldn’t ‘compete’ with what would actually fit in at my wealthy school, I made bold and wild clothes, like jeans with huge bell bottoms and pants out of candy-colored children’s bed sheets. 

I wanted to make it clear that I wasn't trying to win at the game of having the right clothes. I was playing my own game.

I’ve done that my entire career—redefined the game. In high school I was one of a handful of students who took advantage of the opportunity to do an independent study. And I did two. One in fashion—I created a line of clothing and put on a fashion show for the school (my history teacher modeled!) and one in gender roles, that led to what I do today as a coach.

I got into all the colleges I applied to. My college application had good grades and scores, although I wasn’t one of the smartest or most studious kids in my AP classes. But while my super smart peers had things like student government and student newspaper on their college applications, I sent a video of the fashion show I’d put on, and a portfolio of the student lounge redesign I’d taken on and launched with a party where we dressed black tie and served sparkling cider in goblets.

And I think my way into an Ivy League college was way more fun as a result.

I love my ability to find another way forward. To get to the ultimate result in a way others don’t. To craft the way I get there so it fits my own unique self. It led me to be a highly strategic thinker, and It’s  one of the reasons I’m a great coach and strategist. 

And don’t get me wrong, it didn’t feel bad to develop the unique way forward that I did. While it may have been motivated by the sense that I couldn’t succeed the ‘normal’ way, it was also exhilarating. To dream up an alternative approach and then to create it. And because I’m always creating the approach, rather than choosing a trodden path, I’m always making it 100% unique to me.

But I recently read that "burnout happens when you try to create positive results using negative feelings."

It was in an essay by career coach Kori Linn who writes that so many women “keep trying to get just one more achievement and one more accomplishment, assuming that they’ll feel better when they do. But, of course, they won’t.”

“And this is really interesting, because what we want from a life of accomplishment and success isn’t even the accomplishment and success itself. We only want those things because we want to feel like we’re ok, like we’re good enough, like we’re smart and capable and living up to our potential.”

I think there are other reasons to strive and create. I think that there’s an inner voice that says that we have something to accomplish. Something to make in the world, that can only come from us. Not because our ego needs reassurance, but because our own unique soul has something to contribute.

And that process of creation—of making those contributions through learning, and figuring out, and challenging ourselves to do things we haven’t yet done—is what is so alive about being alive.

And I even think that it’s many of the obstacles we face that give birth to our gifts from which we contribute.

But in that striving, that creation, it matters what is driving us. Are we doing it out of fear of not having enough?

Because we aren’t enough? 

My creativity is a gift, but it arose out of scarcity. And often, it is still fueled by scarce thinking.

To take the gift without the fear driving it, there’s healing that has to happen. To bring love to that inner teen. To bring forgiveness to the feelings of scarcity and non-safety instead of trying to escape through over-action. That’s what I’ll be working on with my coach. 

Because the ability to take action and to be wildly creative and strategic are such gifts. And how amazing could they be if driven by love, adventure and curiosity, instead of fear?

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Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.