Celebrate Human Creativity with the Abundance Mentality

In this time of rapid change, what mindset will help inspire hope?

Posted Jul 07, 2017

The government of any country exists to serve the people of the country. Every government needs balanced, thoughtful strategies for economic growth and social stability. Small countries or regions like Hong Kong that have modest natural resources cannot rely on the old Industrial Economy business models built on exploitation of natural and human resources. Instead, the government must celebrate Human Capital (Human Resources and Intellectual Capital) as vigorously as possible. Further, it must enable and support the formation of platforms capable of creating ecosystems where intangible and tangible assets that belong to other people and organizations can be accessed and linked. The appropriate use of modern communications and software technologies, such as blockchain, will allow entities built on such platforms to be leaders in the global economy.

The starting point to growth is always learning—learning how to ask better questions, learning how different points of view contribute valuable fresh insights. This mindset can be developed in childhood, runs throughout formal schooling, and continues in every context of life, not just in work situations. The effort requires an increasing investment of energy over the lifetime of individuals and organizations, even as other priorities demand attention.

Since creative energy responds to inspiration, government policies and strategies must be directed toward generating hope in young people. Young people, by definition, will be the major resource and driver of growth in the future. Modern capitalism is currently based on consumerism and economic growth is measured by metrics of consumption of finished goods as well as natural resources. The challenge today is to design new models for growing an economy based on Knowledge, with different metrics that acknowledge learning as more meaningful and valuable than meeting known milestones. How do we balance being a creator of new knowledge or a consumer of knowledge established and controlled by others?

How can we encourage a sense of wonder and adventure, with an implicit promise that having the courage to learn through exploration will yield immeasurable benefits = hope for the future?

This objective requires extensive cultural adaptation, within families, educational institutions, businesses, and government organizations. Fortunately, this kind of activity can be self-propagating and self-perpetuating, as inspiration and hope generate positive feedback loops. Positive human feelings are easily and naturally shared and literally inspire others to further share the positivity.

A common question is: How does this philosophy work in real life, with practical constraints such as limits on financial resources, time, and physical energy?

The first step is cultivation of a “growth mindset,” as defined by Prof. Carol Dweck of Stanford University, an attitude of being focused on learning. A critical piece of this attitude is an “abundance mentality,” which is the exact opposite of the premise of the above question. We must believe that we, in a collective sense, can access unlimited resources, including what we may not know about or that may not even have been discovered or invented yet? This is definitely a statement of faith, faith in the human spirit, faith in what is possible, even when the future hasn’t even been imagined yet.

The “scarcity mentality” leads us to see what we already know as limitations to what is possible. This starting attitude is based on looking at reality for what is NOT possible. How can this lead to growth?

How can we compete to solve tough new problems if we limit ourselves to using only resources (knowledge and tools) that are already well-established and not proprietary to us? IBM’s Watson and Google’s DeepMind are extreme examples that show how uncompetitive even the most brilliant human minds are, compared to new methods of computer processing. Knowledge (data) that can be collected can be digitized. Once digitized, new computing tools can process the data and learn faster than humans can by orders of magnitude. When this threshold is passed, what can humans do to have a sense of value, of meaning in life?

People with the scarcity mentality wring their hands and complain that they are being disenfranchised. They are right. The challenges of the 21st century can only be addressed by people with an abundance mentality, who celebrate themselves as creative beings, who reach out to other creative beings, to share and challenge each other to develop new ideas, new tools to explore the world we live in, to solve problems that seem overwhelming from conventional perspectives. These are independent thinkers, who need access to the most powerful tools and platforms that are currently available so they can build on and leverage knowledge (intangible assets) and assets owned by others.

The true scarcity is in faith and the courage to explore the unknown, the fear of setbacks (“failures”). We react to fear by contracting our spirit, by shrinking back into the shell we call our comfort zone. There, we prefer the familiarity of our illusions to experiencing the disappointment of missed expectations. We prefer to resist change when change brings fear.

Complacency results. How can we survive?