Are you living in scarcity?
I started seriously thinking about the so-called “scarcity mentality” a month or so ago when I was sitting on the sofa with my fiancée.
As usual she was asking if we could put the heating on, while I questioned her choice of a sleeveless vest in winter and insisted that “It’s not even cold”.
Nothing unusual about that. It is pretty much accepted that in any given heterosexual couple, in any given room, the woman will complain of being cold while the man is forced to place ice cubes on the base of his spine in order to avoid spontaneous combustion.
The sleeveless vest was a mere detail. She could have been wearing a bearskin coat and still felt cold. Conversely, when Captain Scott’s men set out to reach the South Pole, you can be SURE there was at least one dickhead wearing shorts.
Well. After an invigorating “discussion” about the cost of gas, it turned out that growing up her parents had never put a limit on the amount of heating in the house. Imagine!
In 30(ish) years of life, I had never heard anything like it.
In the house where I grew up, it was totally normal for my nose to be streaming and my hands too cold to move a pen because we “couldn’t afford” to heat the place.
But it’s not like her parents were rich. So what was the difference?
I started to think about other instances of scarcity in my upbringing.
At mealtimes, my dad would always grab any leftover food on anyone’s plate, stating “I can’t bear waste” before gobbling everything up like some gluttonous human garbage dispenser.
Until I was old enough to vote, the only clothes I ever wore were my brother’s hand-me-downs. Luckily it was the 90s, so baggy was in.
All this is completely understandable behaviour from my parents of course. Kids are expensive. But more than that, my dad was a product of his parents, and they had endured rationing during the war. At that time, there really wasn’t enough.
Or at least, the government believed so, and that belief was passed on to its citizens in the most visceral possible way, by denying them food.
All this has led me to question beliefs I thought were just “normal”, which might in fact be nothing more than a subjective and pernicious scarcity mindset.
This week I have been laid low with what some women think is ok to call “man flu”. As such I have had time to increase my viewing of obscure YouTube videos from “Whatever floats your boat” to “You know, sometimes it’s healthy to see friends” levels.
The two people I have been drawn to most are Jacque Fresco, inventor of the Venus Project and possibly the greatest living genius (he is 101 years old), and Grant Cardone, millionaire sales trainer, real estate investor and motivational maniac.
The two figures seem ostensibly unrelated, but as Jacque Fresco says, there is no such thing as human creativity, only “taking known elements and putting them together in unique ways”.
So here goes!
First, the differences.
While Fresco believes we need to move beyond the primitive system of money, Cardone is unashamedly obsessed with money.
Cardone is rich, Fresco is not (a rich man once said to Fresco “If you’re so smart why are you not rich?” to which Fresco replied “If you’re so rich why are you not smart?”).
Fresco has invented and entirely thought out a comprehensive model of a new society, and has detailed precisely how everything would work, from architecture and transport to language and cultural values.
Grant Cardone owns a shitload of buildings.
These investments, combined with his four businesses, provide him a massive income. Which we know because he talks about it a lot, often employing the phrase “stacking paper”.
It seems reasonable to say that Cardone, like pretty much everyone else in the world, is operating at a lower level than Fresco.
In the hotel of the mind (stay with me), Cardone is still on the first few floors while Fresco is in the penthouse suite, arriving in his own private plane with his personal branding on the tail. In reality, Cardone actually owns such a plane and is happy to tell you about it.
But what is more interesting to me is the similarities between these two, and what we can learn from them.
Both men insist that you must ruthlessly dispense of any cultural conditioning instilled by your parents. All those limiting beliefs about who you are and what you can do, handed down through a legacy of fear, disappointment, and small-mindedness.
Cardone strongly believes that this is the only way to be successful if, like him, you “came from nothing”.
He says you need to get rid of the idea of “saving” money, and start to take big risks and massive action, because no one ever saved their way to being rich.
You can then live where you want, meet whomever you like, provide for your family, and donate to your church.
Fresco, as you’d expect, goes much further. He would urge us to see through the cultural conditioning of the entire society, and you would never catch him donating to any church; to him all religions are just more limiting systems of thought.
He believes no one is inherently good or evil; in fact no one is inherently anything. The serial killer got that way for a reason, and we need to investigate to figure out why. The Nazi is that way because of the cultural conditioning he received.
If we saw some Romans taking their kids to watch Christians being fed to the lions and the kid said “Daddy can we watch Christians being fed to lions again next week?” we might think it monstrous, but those are simply the values that child has been imprinted with.
Fresco even claims to have spent time with the Ku Klux Klan and dissolved the group within a month by gently pointing out the flaws in their thinking.
This, like a lot of Fresco’s claims, would seem suspiciously bold. But he has a habit of backing up his theories with annoying amounts of research and data.
If you ask for proof of a particular social idea, it turns out he has spent time with certain tribes that share none of the values we might think are inherent to humanity, and can cite real examples.
Question him on how a particular invention would work in practice, and he will pull out an actual model he has made and literally point to the solution.
All you can do is nod and say “Wow, that guy’s smart”.
It seems likely that Fresco will be looked back on as one of history’s great minds, along with the likes of da Vinci and Tesla.
But what do I know? I’m in my 30s and broke. Right now I just want to stack paper.
Which brings us back to the other key similarity between Fresco and Grant Cardone, as increasingly absurd as this comparison seems even to me.
They both believe absolutely in abundance.
Cardone is fond of saying “There is no shortage of success”. This is actually a very healthy message, encouraging you to celebrate others’ success rather than resent it, and see their achievements as proof that you can do it too.
I know from working as a standup comedian that if you do not adopt this mindset you will be in real trouble.
Comedy is, or at least can appear to be, an oversaturated, brutally competitive, and frankly useless industry, where it is a constant challenge not to succumb to bitterness.
The same few faces dominate the TV screens while the equally talented club comics languish in obscurity. Or worse, in Preston.
That’s why Cardone’s message is essential, and completely logical. How could there be a shortage of an abstract concept like success? It’s not like it’s coal or something.
And even the shortage of coal is probably a myth, and if not there are plenty of better energy sources available.
In fact Fresco’s Venus Project website has a whole list of viable energy sources, and he is fond of saying that “Geothermal power alone could provide enough clean energy for the next thousand years.”
I didn’t know what Geothermal power was, but that doesn’t matter.
I doubt Grant Cardone does either, and he is f***ing rich.
Cardone also points out that there is no shortage of money. We print the stuff ourselves, and “Uncle G”, as he affectionately refers to himself, intends to get his hands on as much of it as humanly possible.
Naturally Fresco goes further and would abolish money completely, moving to an entirely “resource based economy”.
In the abundance battle, Fresco wins every time.
But the fact that these two wildly different men agree on both the need to remove cultural conditioning and the scarcity mindset is a powerful reminder.
I have personally found this mindset incredibly difficult to cast off.
Yet if a mega-rich salesman with his own reality TV show can see eye to eye with a monkishly devoted inventor genius, then there must be something in it.