Abundant People – The 4 Things They Do Differently

abundant lady sitting and smiling in the sunshineI’ve long scrutinised possible connections between abundant people and different aspects of life – in particular, environmental factors – but, no matter how much I stared at it, I could never pinpoint “one thing” to determine whether a person will or won’t embark on a life-long struggle to keep the wolves from the door.

Having traveled to over 30 countries, spending extended periods of time in some of them, I’ve agonised over why, in certain countries, the majority are quite wealthy, but there’s a minority that isn’t. And how come the vast majority of citizens of some other countries seem to be flat broke while a small percentage of apparently ordinary people do extremely well? What’s hiding behind the scenes?

It’s not a gender thing, it’s not a looks thing, it’s not a skin tone nor religion. It’s not height, weight, whether you’re from a one- or two-parent family, suffered child-abuse or grew up well-nurtured, and it’s not even about how your parents handled their finances!

Some try to tell us “it’s because of the government” or “corporate exploitation” or “because they is white” but, although those can certainly be correlating factors in some cases, they’re not causes because, if they were, then everyone from that demographic would be of the same economic status, and they’re not.

Anyway, after spending the best part of a year in Greece among Greeks and Americans, and then another in Portugal among locals and expats, at 6 o’clock this morning, I figure out that it’s this:

People who take the MOST end up with the LEAST.

What?! Surely, if you take more, you get more, right? No. Read on for an explanation…

Growing up, my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic: You don’t play out until you’ve done your homework. You don’t get pocket money until you’ve done your chores. If you want extra money, you have to earn it. And it felt horribly unfair.
 
I strongly resented being duped into earning my way into a really fancy school full of highly educated kids from wealthy households boasting 3-story Victorian mansions, piano lessons, holidays to Disney Florida, and genuine Adidas Green Flash, while I had to “make do with” (it wasn’t that bad but, you know, compared with my classmates…) an annual camping trip to Wales and pumps from Woolworth’s.
 
So, before I was legally old enough to get a part-time job –  and as soon as I could see over the counter, I took a Saturday job in a cafe – I created my own series of tiny cottage industries, crafting items for sale from my bedroom or my Grandparents’ house, using whatever resources I could get my hands on such as old greetings cards, fabric fents, leftover knitting wool, and glitter and glue from my toy box.
 
With my Grandma’s help and ideas from her hefty stack of back copies of Woman’s Weekly, I made some cool stuff which she and my Auntie sold for me to neighbours, friends, and colleagues and, with the money, I was then able to re-invest it into more and better crafting materials.
 
This years-long exercise taught me that, if you take the time to learn something, then find an avenue to sell that thing to others, you can start with nothing and make yourself some money – and even a child can do it.
 
Why, then, if it’s so straightforward to make money, do so many people find themselves in life-long dire financial straits, claiming social security benefits long-term, or forever living hand-to-mouth, unable to dig themselves out of a black pit of debt? (We can all get ourselves in a pickle, from time to time, myself included, but I’m talking about when this is a lifestyle, rather than a glitch.)
 
Why do some thrive and some struggle?
 
With all things equal, why do some people seem to thrive, while others struggle to make ends meet? (And I’m not talking about a swollen-bellied Ethiopian from an Oxfam ad, I’m talking about your neighbours. Or even you. So step down off your soap box.)
 
As I mentioned, it’s because people who take the most end up with the least, and my observations of how things play out in real life are four-fold: (And some of these are going to really get your goat because they sound paradoxical.)
 
Firstly, abundant people give more than they take
 
Well, of course they do, because they’ve got extra money to splash around! I’ve got less than I need so how can I give?? 
 
Nope. It doesn’t work like that, and it’s not so much about money, anyway, than it is about EFFORT. Abundant people understand the huge benefits of contribution and delayed gratification; they get the “bigger picture”.
 
Let me tell you a story to illustrate my points:
 
There’s a party at Peter’s apartment. 
 
Peter spends the day cleaning, tidying, and organising his furniture for 3 friends coming round. He does an extra grocery shop and provides food and drink for his friends, and he’s warm and welcoming. Peter is a contributor – he gives more than he takes.
 
Chris comes to the party, bringing a large, home-cooked dish of macaroni cheese which took two hours to make, and a jug of home-made lemonade which was a huge effort to transport safely to the party! Chris is a contributor.
 
Lou only has £1.50 to spend so just brings a loaf of fresh bread from the local bakery, carving it up and arranging it nicely on a bread board upon arrival at Peter’s place and, after the party staying behind to help clean the dishes and rearrange the furniture. Lou is a contributor.
 
Marie comes to Peter’s party. She also only has £1.50 so, as she’s walking to Peter’s house from the bus stop she buys herself a take-away espresso to drink while smoking a cigarette, turning up with nothing to add to the buffet table. At the end of the party, she watches as the others tidy up. They seem happy to do so and she hates tidying, it’s not her thing so, after complaining of belly ache because she’s eaten too much, she departs, leaving her dishes and glasses for someone else to deal with. Marie is a taker – she takes more than she contributes.
 
Some months later, Peter has a problem with a house he’s moving into and finds himself without a home for a week. He reaches out to Chris, Lou, and Marie for somewhere to stay while some necessary construction work is carried out. Chris offers a double room with private ensuite. Lou doesn’t have a spare room but offers the couch and blankets. Marie hasn’t got a spare bed and the couch wouldn’t be comfy enough to sleep on.
 
A year on and Lou has a baby. Peter offers to drive to the supermarket to stock up on groceries. Chris bakes celebration cookies and ices them with the name of the new baby. Marie goes round to visit, empty-handed, so Lou puts the kettle on and makes her cups of tea, and opens a pack of biscuits.
 
Chris gets sick and goes into hospital. Lou is without a car but wants to visit so calls Peter for a ride to the hospital, taking some of Chris’s favourite snacks, a couple of pairs of comfortable socks from the drawer, and a warm sweater, and collects up Chris’s laundry to take home and wash, for which Chris grabs Lou’s hand and wells up with gratitude. Marie can’t get there, she’s got no money for bus fare at the moment.
 
That afternoon, while Marie is paying for her coffee and pastry, her phone gets stolen from the cafe counter. She has no way to get in touch with the others to let them know. Months go by and nobody even notices they haven’t heard from Marie…
 
Secondly, abundant people look for opportunities to work
 
Eventually, Marie is given a second-hand phone. She doesn’t want it, she wants a brand new one but that hasn’t materialised so she reluctantly accepts the second-hand but fully-functioning iPhone from her cousin. She WhatsApps the others to tell them why she’s been out of contact. They get chatting in a group chat and, as usual, Marie gets on to complaining how broke she is and how she can’t find a job. 
 
Lou says there’s a cleaning job advertised in the local shop but Marie says it’s too far and, anyway, she doesn’t like cleaning.
 
At Chris’s office the reception girl got fired and they need someone urgently, but Marie has nothing to wear. They suggest a blouse and skirt from the charity shop but Marie doesn’t wear second-hand clothes, that’s disgusting, it’s bad enough having a second-hand phone! She’d need a few new outfits but can’t afford that.
 
Peter’s firm will be taking on translators in a few months to assist overseas visitors, but Marie’s language skills aren’t polished enough and, no, she can’t go to the Wednesday night language exchange meetup because she’d have to buy a drink. Peter offers to pay for her a few drinks but she doesn’t like social events with strangers, they make her nervous, so Chris offers to go with her to the first one, but it turns out Marie can’t do Wednesday nights anyway because that’s when her programme is on the telly and she deserves that treat once a week, surely!
 
Marie has no opportunities. It’s really not her fault that she’s broke.
 
That same afternoon Peter goes into his boss’s office. “I’ve got something I’d like to work on, boss. I’ve never done it before but I’m confident I can learn and make a big success of it. Should I go on?” “Sure, Peter, please do tell me more…”
 
Peter goes on to talk about delivering projects in an area that’s new to him and it would mean him taking a course. Once learned, it could potentially increase his worth to their clients by about 50% and of course that would equal a decent salary increase. It will mean him going to weekend classes for two months to learn the software and processes and Peter plays rugby on Saturdays, and goes to his mother’s every Sunday for lunch but he’s prepared to work around that.
 
Peter’s boss recognises this as the fantastic opportunity that it is, and doesn’t skip a beat. “It’s a terrific idea, thanks for bringing this to the table. I might see if John wants to get involved, as well. And of course the company will foot the bill for your training,” he tells Peter. “This is brilliant! Thanks, boss. I’ll get it organised.” When Peter gets home he calls his rugby club to let them know the dates he’ll be out of action so someone can fill in for him, he researches locals gyms so he doesn’t miss out on his weekly exercise, and he calls his mother to tell her he’ll be coming round much later on Sundays for a while. And the next day he books himself and his colleague John onto the training course.
  
“Lucky Peter, he gets all the breaks,” thinks Marie as she scrolls her group WhatsApp messages on her free iPhone.
  
Thirdly, abundant people live within their means, save before spending, and spend wisely
 
Poor Marie. No money and no opportunities. The world is stacked against her. She lights up another cigarette and takes out her phone as the cafe owner brings her coffee and pastry to her outside table. “Do you want the WiFi password?” “No, I pay for the maximum data bundle every month, it would be silly not to use it, wouldn’t it!” She’s so savvy.
 
She calls the nail salon. “Becky, can you fit me in this afternoon? I’m feeling down and need a pick-me-up.” “I’ve got 3 o’clock, love. Your usual manicure? OK, I’m also doing a special – a pedicure for just another £8, do you want it?” “Yeah, why not, see you at 3.” She deserves a treat, now and then.
 
She hangs up and scrolls the app store to see what’s trending. She pauses on a free language learning app and briefly ponders the translation opportunity at Peter’s firm coming up in a few months. She can speak school French, she was quite good at it, but she’s too rusty these days. Anyway, this app is free so it’s probably a load of crap. It’s such a pity that she can’t afford to pay for a better app.
 
A game featuring some bright, animated characters throwing colourful balls around catches her eye. She plays a few free games – wow! She gets high scores in the millions and feels like such a winner. But she has to pay to continue playing. £5.99 a month. What’s that a day? She does a quick mental calculation. Like, 20p! That’s nothing! She signs up and continues playing. 
 
Meanwhile, Lou is poring over an online bank statement. Who knew babies could be this expensive?! Chris phones. “Hey Lou! We’re getting a Chinese take-away tonight, do you want in?” “Hmphhhh, I’d love to but not tonight. Thanks so much for the invite, though. Have a nice evening, and count me in next time!” Lou hangs up and then immediately transfers the cost of a Chinese take-away into an online savings account.
 
Fourthly, abundant people express gratitude
 
Notice how Peter’s boss expresses gratitude for Peter’s idea to improve their service offering?
Notice how Peter expresses gratitude to his boss for listening to his idea and offering to pay for the training?
Notice how Chris expresses gratitude to Lou for bringing snacks and clothes to the hospital and taking the laundry?
Notice how Lou expresses gratitude for being invited for a Chinese take-away, in spite of having to decline?
Notice how Marie complains of belly ache from over-eating party food, and is resentful about the second-hand iPhone?
  
What are abundant people doing differently?
 
They don’t necessarily have more advantages, skills, or resources than anyone else. They work hard, avoid instant gratification, and operate wisely, from a bigger picture mindset. To re-cap, abundant people…
 
…give more than they take,
…look for opportunities to work,
…live within their means, save before spending, and spend wisely,
…express gratitude.
 
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” – John F Kennedy
 
Know that you’re capable of so much more? Find out how to harness your potential.