I Bought a Small Abundance Candle: Thoughts on IDEA*

I don’t know what I was thinking.

I was setting up my new business, and along with it my new home office. It seemed like a good time to invite some abundance into my home, so I bought the little, purple votive candle.

You can see where this is going, right?

That little candle didn’t last long and soon I was back in that lovely shop, buying the bigger version. My sister was with me and could not stop needling me.

“Why would you buy a SMALL abundance candle? You need that in the 55-gallon drum size! They shouldn’t even make them in votive size! A small abundance candle is an oxymoron!!”

We laughed so hard we doubled over. Right there in the store.

My sister’s commentary aside, this is a lesson in how I make choices about abundance.

There are lots of books, articles and blogs out there about abundance versus scarcity mindset. I encourage you to explore them.

So much of it comes down to this:

We can either focus on the things that we don’t have (scarcity), or we can be grateful for what we do have (abundance).

Very simply

It’s whether we see the proverbial glass as half full or half empty.

I’m not saying this is easy, but it becomes a habit over time. When something disappointing or upsetting happens, simply notice your reaction. Do you get mad (scarcity mindset), or do you accept the situation in a more neutral way (abundance mindset)?

Now, how does this relate to IDEA*?

To get us into scarcity-abundance thinking, I’ll start with an example that, on the surface, is outside of IDEA thinking.

Your sink is full of dirty dishes and you might be annoyed that you have to wash them.

If you’re stuck in scarcity, you’re only focused on the task.

Woe is me! This menial chore is cutting into my Netflix time!

If you’re shifting toward abundance, you’re feeling more neutral.

Oh, well! Gotta wash some dishes so I can get on to the next thing.

Or you might be downright grateful.

That was a tasty meal! I’m so grateful I have enough to eat.

There are simple ways we can shift thinking and change habits.

First, simply notice how you are reacting. Do you feel like you are in control, are you mad, are you calm? Are you able to rein it in if you overreact? Do you feel calm the whole time?

Next, be kind to and patient with yourself. You might notice some big changes right away, or it could take some time for you to get into an abundance mindset. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Finally, work toward a habit of gratitude. I’ve seen lots of advice on becoming more thankful. Things like, every night before bed, write down 10 things you’re grateful for. You can simply notice gratitude that you’re feeling. It can be as simple as, “Wow, that cashier at the grocery store was super friendly and helpful! I’m grateful for her today!”

Seeking Abundance in IDEA work: Scarcity has won the fight for way too long.

I’ve had the privilege to learn from IDEA teachers & crusaders. People who have been in the trenches for years. Some were my social work professors, some were and are coworkers, presenters, abolitionists, and friends.

I’ve learned that so many of us – myself included – walk around with scarcity mindsets about culture, race, gender, and other points of difference. Somehow, we’ve been taught to think that there’s only so much prosperity (health, money, attention, donuts, etc.) to go around.

We get stuck in scarcity. And it hurts us just as much as it hurts those around us.

If I keep believing that prosperity is scarce, I’m going to scramble to get as much of it as I can. I’ll push people out of the way to get it. I’ll hurt people needlessly, and damage my reputation and conscience in the process.

Choosing abundance

We’ve already missed out on so much by devaluing inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. Communities have shut down services and amenities to keep “those people” from accessing them, which ends up harming everyone. Organizations miss out on expertise, knowledge, creativity, and advancement because they are not intentionally recruiting from a diverse pool of applicants.

What if we flip this mindset to abundance?

That’s the IDEA

When we Include people of backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and abilities, our talent pool gets bigger, is richer in expertise, is more creative, and better at solving problems.

When Diversity is a practice, not just a concept, we attract employees, clients, Board members, volunteers and donors who better represent our communities.

Upholding and creating Equity helps everyone, not just the people who have been marginalized. It’s about removing barriers to jobs, committee and Board positions, education, services, and so much more.

Ensuring Access means that we’re opening doors, creating opportunities, and matching talent with jobs, volunteer spots, and Board openings.

The Bottom Line

Studies show us that organizations with diverse groups of workers get better results. Their teams are better at brainstorming, they’re more creative, and better at meeting the needs of clients or customers. These organizations tend to be more profitable, too.

That sounds like abundance to me.


DEI – Diversity Equity Inclusion

*IDEA – Inclusion Diversity Equity Access. Access is crucial, so I’m opting to use IDEA rather than DEI. This practice, movement, and acronym are currently used by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), of which I am a member.

Brenda Riehl is a longtime social worker and fundraiser. She’s founder of Thrive Fundraising LLC, a Pennsylvania-based business offering nonprofit strategy, fundraising, and program development services. She welcomes your emails, comments, ideas, and questions: brenda@thrivefundraising.org.

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