Scarcity versus Abundance: Does Scarcity Kill Creativity?

Conversations and Contemplations on Creative Leadership: Scarcity versus Abundance: Does Scarcity Kill Creativity?

Of course, if you have read enough business, leadership, or management books over the years the idea of “scarcity versus abundance” is bound to be in your vocabulary. If not, think of it as an attitude on one hand that says there is more than enough of “whatever” to go around. The opposing attitude is that there is a zero sum, a finite amount of, or limited opportunity of “whatever” our “it” happens to be.

Many creatives would say, myself included, that if I had the budget, the time, or the people I could do amazing things. With what I am given, I am not able barring a miracle. That list, by the way is a scarcity of “whatevers” that says I am limited. The irony is that in the mind of many of us creatives say we want abundance, but it seems we are capped because we have finite “resource” and may often view our work this way.

Abundance says that the “whatever” of my vision, talent, and passion can achieve something of value, even with limitations. And, It means I can celebrate others attempting to do the same. There is room for many of us to create and even if someone does it better, I am enriched because it is the kind of enriching I am hoping to accomplish for people, clients, or parishioners.

It is possible that having too much of the wrong “whatevers” inhibits our vision of the actual abundance of the right “whatevers” in our grasp. Case in point, I have wanted to record some of my music for years. I used to actually have a studio, tools, and people to accomplish this. Having all those things kept me from seeing the lack of space, freedom, and purpose to record. When I had an abundance of those “whatevers” recently, with little resource, no studio of my own, and new people I met I was able to actually do far more than I had envisioned recording in the first place.

Creativity is an activity of abundance, but lives best in the realm of scarcity.

Do you agree?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

25 comments

  1. Tim Sanders has great things to say about this subject in his book “Love Is A Killer App” Great post!

    1. Randy, sounds like a must read. A highlight of this year was hearing Sander’s talk at recreate.

  2. Tim Sanders has great things to say about this subject in his book “Love Is A Killer App” Great post!

    1. Randy, sounds like a must read. A highlight of this year was hearing Sander’s talk at recreate.

  3. Tim Sanders has great things to say about this subject in his book “Love Is A Killer App” Great post!

    1. Randy, sounds like a must read. A highlight of this year was hearing Sander’s talk at recreate.

  4. Tim Sanders has great things to say about this subject in his book “Love Is A Killer App” Great post!

    1. Randy, sounds like a must read. A highlight of this year was hearing Sander’s talk at recreate.

  5. Tim Sanders has great things to say about this subject in his book “Love Is A Killer App” Great post!

    1. Randy, sounds like a must read. A highlight of this year was hearing Sander’s talk at recreate.

  6. I think there is a straightforward way to think about it.  Scarcity is the condition which forces us to rely on God for provision.  As we do this we become closer to who He is, and more in tune with how he is working.  This both sparks deeper creativity on our part as we seek to say what we need to say in gratitude, and practically speaking, it forces us to wait on Him to open doors, so we are watching Him work instead of relying on our own efforts to get it there.
    The other thing, as you observed, is that scarcity can also put us in the position of needing to network as a body of believers, of requiring collaboration to achieve any kind of excellence.  To succeed in any way at this will require coming out of the typical artist self-focus and lone-wolf approach that plagues aspiring artists sometimes.  You simply must recognize the value in others or you will get nowhere in collaborating with them.  As a result you get others to speak into a creative process which often strengthens the final product immensely.

    1. Thanks Mark, could it be that our efforts are indeed important actions of faith? If I do not try the door, I might not see that it is already opened for me. I am not 100% on this, but I am thinking that relying on God sometimes is relying by faith on what he has already given me a vision for and acting on it.

      1. Oh you have to try the doors.  You cannot just wait – the opportunities will not find you (well, only rarely).  There is somewhat of an art to trying a door then waiting to see if God wants it to open.  Many times doors open as a result of acts of service to others – ie, you are not trying to open a door but to serve someone else and, guess what, there is an open door there too!  Another aspect of scarcity – learning to rely upon one another and give to one another.

  7. I think there is a straightforward way to think about it.  Scarcity is the condition which forces us to rely on God for provision.  As we do this we become closer to who He is, and more in tune with how he is working.  This both sparks deeper creativity on our part as we seek to say what we need to say in gratitude, and practically speaking, it forces us to wait on Him to open doors, so we are watching Him work instead of relying on our own efforts to get it there.
    The other thing, as you observed, is that scarcity can also put us in the position of needing to network as a body of believers, of requiring collaboration to achieve any kind of excellence.  To succeed in any way at this will require coming out of the typical artist self-focus and lone-wolf approach that plagues aspiring artists sometimes.  You simply must recognize the value in others or you will get nowhere in collaborating with them.  As a result you get others to speak into a creative process which often strengthens the final product immensely.

    1. Thanks Mark, could it be that our efforts are indeed important actions of faith? If I do not try the door, I might not see that it is already opened for me. I am not 100% on this, but I am thinking that relying on God sometimes is relying by faith on what he has already given me a vision for and acting on it.

      1. Oh you have to try the doors.  You cannot just wait – the opportunities will not find you (well, only rarely).  There is somewhat of an art to trying a door then waiting to see if God wants it to open.  Many times doors open as a result of acts of service to others – ie, you are not trying to open a door but to serve someone else and, guess what, there is an open door there too!  Another aspect of scarcity – learning to rely upon one another and give to one another.

  8. I think there is a straightforward way to think about it.  Scarcity is the condition which forces us to rely on God for provision.  As we do this we become closer to who He is, and more in tune with how he is working.  This both sparks deeper creativity on our part as we seek to say what we need to say in gratitude, and practically speaking, it forces us to wait on Him to open doors, so we are watching Him work instead of relying on our own efforts to get it there.
    The other thing, as you observed, is that scarcity can also put us in the position of needing to network as a body of believers, of requiring collaboration to achieve any kind of excellence.  To succeed in any way at this will require coming out of the typical artist self-focus and lone-wolf approach that plagues aspiring artists sometimes.  You simply must recognize the value in others or you will get nowhere in collaborating with them.  As a result you get others to speak into a creative process which often strengthens the final product immensely.

    1. Thanks Mark, could it be that our efforts are indeed important actions of faith? If I do not try the door, I might not see that it is already opened for me. I am not 100% on this, but I am thinking that relying on God sometimes is relying by faith on what he has already given me a vision for and acting on it.

      1. Oh you have to try the doors.  You cannot just wait – the opportunities will not find you (well, only rarely).  There is somewhat of an art to trying a door then waiting to see if God wants it to open.  Many times doors open as a result of acts of service to others – ie, you are not trying to open a door but to serve someone else and, guess what, there is an open door there too!  Another aspect of scarcity – learning to rely upon one another and give to one another.

  9. I think there is a straightforward way to think about it.  Scarcity is the condition which forces us to rely on God for provision.  As we do this we become closer to who He is, and more in tune with how he is working.  This both sparks deeper creativity on our part as we seek to say what we need to say in gratitude, and practically speaking, it forces us to wait on Him to open doors, so we are watching Him work instead of relying on our own efforts to get it there.
    The other thing, as you observed, is that scarcity can also put us in the position of needing to network as a body of believers, of requiring collaboration to achieve any kind of excellence.  To succeed in any way at this will require coming out of the typical artist self-focus and lone-wolf approach that plagues aspiring artists sometimes.  You simply must recognize the value in others or you will get nowhere in collaborating with them.  As a result you get others to speak into a creative process which often strengthens the final product immensely.

    1. Thanks Mark, could it be that our efforts are indeed important actions of faith? If I do not try the door, I might not see that it is already opened for me. I am not 100% on this, but I am thinking that relying on God sometimes is relying by faith on what he has already given me a vision for and acting on it.

      1. Oh you have to try the doors.  You cannot just wait – the opportunities will not find you (well, only rarely).  There is somewhat of an art to trying a door then waiting to see if God wants it to open.  Many times doors open as a result of acts of service to others – ie, you are not trying to open a door but to serve someone else and, guess what, there is an open door there too!  Another aspect of scarcity – learning to rely upon one another and give to one another.

  10. I think there is a straightforward way to think about it.  Scarcity is the condition which forces us to rely on God for provision.  As we do this we become closer to who He is, and more in tune with how he is working.  This both sparks deeper creativity on our part as we seek to say what we need to say in gratitude, and practically speaking, it forces us to wait on Him to open doors, so we are watching Him work instead of relying on our own efforts to get it there.
    The other thing, as you observed, is that scarcity can also put us in the position of needing to network as a body of believers, of requiring collaboration to achieve any kind of excellence.  To succeed in any way at this will require coming out of the typical artist self-focus and lone-wolf approach that plagues aspiring artists sometimes.  You simply must recognize the value in others or you will get nowhere in collaborating with them.  As a result you get others to speak into a creative process which often strengthens the final product immensely.

    1. Thanks Mark, could it be that our efforts are indeed important actions of faith? If I do not try the door, I might not see that it is already opened for me. I am not 100% on this, but I am thinking that relying on God sometimes is relying by faith on what he has already given me a vision for and acting on it.

      1. Oh you have to try the doors.  You cannot just wait – the opportunities will not find you (well, only rarely).  There is somewhat of an art to trying a door then waiting to see if God wants it to open.  Many times doors open as a result of acts of service to others – ie, you are not trying to open a door but to serve someone else and, guess what, there is an open door there too!  Another aspect of scarcity – learning to rely upon one another and give to one another.

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