Musician Scarcity Thinking

Last week I wrote about a client I called “David” and the issue of scarcity thinking, a mindset problem that most musicians experience yet fail to address. But now, in this pandemic season of uncertainty, Scarcity Thinking is the other virus we need to eradicate.

Scarcity thinking is the zero-sum paradigm of life. It keeps us rooted in comparison and score-keeping and can keep us isolated and hunkered down in fear. The Scarcity mindset is a negative loop that keeps us thinking—and playing—small.

It’s common for musicians to tell me that yes, they have some Scarcity thinking when it comes to their career concerns. But they say that this has nothing to do with their work in the practice room, composition studio, or onstage.

That’s what my client David believed, too. He thought the only thing holding him back was the fact that he wasn’t being given the opportunities he deserved.

Well I’m here to tell you that the Scarcity Mindset ALWAYS bleeds over into your performance or composition work. And it directly limits your artistic potential.

Scarcity can show up as . . .

  • Holding back and playing “small” to avoid risks—versus being “all in.”
  • Engaging in negative self-talk (not just in the practice room).
  • Seeking external validation to boost low self-esteem.
  • Exaggerating the importance of any audition or performance, looking for that “lucky break.”
  • Blaming others for your circumstances instead of being willing to change your approach.
  • Being results-obsessed as opposed to focused on the process as its own reward.
  • Keeping a fixed view of success—in which you are dependent on other people “picking” you.

If we go upstream from these scarcity symptoms to the cause, what we often find is a cynical view of life, an “us against them” stance. This can include a basic fear or distrust of others and a feeling of not being worthy. There’s often an isolated striving for perfection, status, or achievement devoid of fellowship or grace.

The good news is there’s an alternative to Scarcity Thinking. It’s . . .

The Abundance Mindset

It starts from a place of optimism. Instead of comparing ourselves to others and resenting their success, we’re inspired by and energized to learn from them. And instead of focusing on immediate transactions and needs, we think long-term and focus on cultivating relationships.

The abundance mindset is rooted in a clear sense that there’s enough pie for everyone. That life isn’t a competition for who gets the biggest piece. It’s the sense that we are all connected and that by being generous of spirit, we can grow the pie so that we all benefit.

The abundant perspective celebrates the gift of this life we’ve received. It leads us to being open minded and curious, to identifying solutions and creating more opportunities. And we draw people to our projects because of our positive energy and forward motion.

But more than this, the abundance mindset is centered in the idea that we can choose to see our world as wondrous and abundant.

This isn’t about ignoring problems or the challenges of our circumstances. It’s about being able to see the gifts we do have and the opportunities in the moment—so we can move forward to co-create the future we want to share with others.

Here’s what I know for sure: The Scarcity mindset is fueled by fear; the abundance mindset is powered by love. Not the love of romance, but the fierce love of music, of our fellow humans, of our planet, and of the everyday miracles of life itself.

Love is the antidote to the virus of fear

Maybe you grew up believing that life is a struggle, and that being competitive is necessary for success. Perhaps you’ve been bruised by disappointments and these have led you to believe that the world is a cruel and indifferent place.

If so, then the abundance mindset can seem like an impossible fairy tale view of life.

But take a beat now and go back in time to when you first fell in love with music.

That love is energy that can fuel how you see yourself, the people around you, and your opportunities.

How do you cultivate abundance?

Remind yourself of your love of music; remember what music is actually for—connecting beyond ourselves to something far greater.

Whatever difficulties we’ve had in life we always have the choice to see life as a gift and to find the beauty that is all around us. If Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and a survivor of four concentration camps could do this, then so can we all.

For an Abundance Mindset visualization tool just for musicians, hop on our MusiciansMakingIt FB group tomorrow at 12 noon ET and I’ll walk you through it!

And if you’d like to find out how getting expert coaching can help you bring more of your best work into the world, let’s talk.

Looking forward,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well


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