Close this search box.
Close this search box.

A Realistic Version Of A ‘Culture Of Abundance’

© AdobeStock
How one CEO cultivates a "culture of enough" to decrease internal competition and boost win-win, cooperative thinking and behavior.

It’s a buzzword that pops up in hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, speeches, and books: “culture of abundance.”  But what exactly is it?

In theory, it’s a culture where everyone feels that there is no need to covet money, resources, time, power, recognition, advancement, relationships, opportunity, security or anything else because they see all these things as plentiful. In turn, people can focus all their attention on teamwork and on their best work because they are not distracted with thoughts of internal competition, feeling underappreciated or believing they are living or being treated sub-optimally.

But unfortunately, that’s fantasy. To be clear, I do think that the basic thinking underlying the concept of a “culture of abundance” has value. It’s just that the concept—including the use of the word “abundance”—represents an ideal that does not, and probably cannot, exist in modern times. As such, striving for a “culture of abundance” is likely counterproductive.

I’ve been a CEO for 15 years now, which, is a pretty long tenure for a CEO. When I began my term, we had a good amount of scarcity with which we had to contend. Now, all these years later, we’ve grown dramatically and are many times the size we once were. We have great people, clients, relationships, technology, space, consultants, recognition and access to resources. And, along the way, we have done quite well for ourselves economically, too.  Incomes are way up, along with benefits, opportunities for advancement, and, of course, equity returns.

I used to say that we therefore had a culture of abundance – but I’ve come to realize that even we have never really had a culture of abundance. How do I know this? Because it’s normal, if not instinctive, to want more. Our people, just like most others, want more. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even I sometimes want more.

We as human beings are almost always going to want more, even if we’re not talking about money. Be honest about it. Do you have an abundance of time on your hands? Do you have an abundance of friends? Support? Opportunities? Resources? Safety and security?

I think we need to change the concept of, and language around, a “culture of abundance” to a more realistic and highly achievable “culture of enough.” If people can learn to realize and appreciate that they already have enough of everything they need, they can have awareness of, and even control over, their natural feelings of scarcity and competition, allowing them to achieve the same benefits offered by the purely theoretical culture of abundance.

Said differently, take some time to reflect on your life. Are you healthy? Do you have freedom? Do you have equal and fair opportunities? Are you safe? Do you have a job that you value? Do you have enough money to live comfortably? Do you have people you love and who love you? Do you have friends? Do you have time to focus on the things that are most important to you and that make you happy? And do the people you love have these things? If you can answer these questions affirmatively (and I recognize that many cannot), then you probably have enough of everything you’ll ever need.

It doesn’t follow, however, that if you answered yes to each of the above questions, then you don’t want more. It’s natural to want more. We’re built that way. If, however, you can approach your natural desires from the perspective that you already have enough of everything that’s really important, then I submit that your perspective, and all of your insecurities, will look and feel different the next time your instincts tell you that you need more.

Companies that seek to foster optimal conditions for teamwork and employee focus should strive for conditions in which, to the extent they have control of those conditions, everyone can feel that they have enough of everything that’s really important. They should also be prepared to challenge those that are not aware of this reality when it exists and be supportive of others who, in fact, might not have enough of everything they need. In this type of “culture of enough,” internal competition becomes much less overwhelming and team members can position themselves better into focused, win-win thinking instead of distracted, win-lose thinking. By doing so, they also can frame their individual quests for more as cooperative in nature, thereby maximizing their chances, and those of their companies, to find the very abundance that eludes so many others who already claim to have it.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.