Two Types of Thinkers: Which Are You?

Over the years, I have noticed that there are two kinds of thinking. One kind leads to success, joy, and fulfillment. The other leads to failure, fear, and discontent. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).

Luch bushes and sand - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #4161005

Photo courtesy of ©

My friend, Robert Smith, is a great example of the first. He is one of the most generous people I know. He always greets me with a big smile, a hug, and an encouraging word. I always leave his presence energized, feeling great about being me.

And I have noticed that he is like this with everyone. He treats employees, vendors, booking agents, publishers, and everyone else as if they were his best customers. He routinely invests in their success. It comes back to him in a thousand ways.

Robert is my best example of an abundance thinker.

One of my former clients, Charlie (not his real name), is just the opposite. He exhibits a hoarding mentality. He never picks up the check, even if he asks you to lunch. He constantly complains—about everything. I haven’t seen him in years, but when I did, I always left his presence drained and diminished.

It turns out that he, too, was like this with everyone. His employees—and even family members—rolled their eyes when you mentioned his name. They lived in constant fear that their livelihood and well-being were at risk. Interestingly, the success he craved seemed to elude him.

Charlie is my best example of a scarcity thinker.

The question is this: Which type of thinker are you? Maybe it’s time to do some honest self-evaluation. Better yet, ask those closest to you.

As I was running this morning, I noted eight characteristics of abundance thinkers:

  1. They believe there is always more where that came from.
  2. They are happy to share their knowledge, contacts, and compassion with others.
  3. They default to trust and build rapport easily.
  4. They welcome competition, believing it makes the pie bigger and them better.
  5. They ask themselves, How can I give more than is expected?
  6. They are optimistic about the future, believing the best is yet to come.
  7. They think big, embracing risk.
  8. They are thankful and confident.

I also noted eight characteristics of scarcity thinkers:

  1. They believe there will never be enough.
  2. They are stingy with their knowledge, contacts, and compassion.
  3. They default to suspicion and find it difficult to build rapport.
  4. They resent competition, believing it makes the pie smaller and them weaker.
  5. They ask themselves, How can I get by with less than is expected?
  6. They are pessimistic about the future, believing that tough times are ahead.
  7. They think small, avoiding risk.
  8. They are entitled and fearful.

The truth is that, for most of us, we are not either / or. We are a little of both. I certainly want to grow as an abundance thinker. Reviewing these characteristics has given me some clarity. How about you?

Question: How do you see these two ways of thinking impacting your world? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Tim Blankenship

    Reminded that it takes constant awareness to be an abundance thinker!

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  • Geoff Talbot

    Hmmm another great blog.

    In answer to the question in the title, I can be both. Sometimes I think scarce, sometimes I dream abundant. Aren’t we all tempted to grab a hold of the scarcity banner and shake it until we die?

    I think we have a choice to make? But I also think we need healing in areas where we have learned to accept disappointment.

    God’s storehouse never runs dry, that is the truth of it.

    How do we get this knowledge from our heads to our hearts?

    Geoff Talbot

  • Geoff Talbot

    Hmmm another great blog.

    In answer to the question in the title, I can be both. Sometimes I think scarce, sometimes I dream abundant. Aren’t we all tempted to grab a hold of the scarcity banner and shake it until we die?

    I think we have a choice to make? But I also think we need healing in areas where we have learned to accept disappointment.

    God’s storehouse never runs dry, that is the truth of it.

    How do we get this knowledge from our heads to our hearts?

  • Helen Gullett

    This post open my eyes for sure. I really like the terms: abundance thinker and scarcity thinker.
    I always felt intimidated when I was around the scarcity thinkers and always felt encouraged when I was around the abundance thinkers.

    I should repost this on my blogs! :)

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  • Cassandra

    Your character traits of the thinkers reminds me of the book “Who Moved My Cheese”.  I use this book at the beginning of every shchool year to get my students to recognize their own character traits as they compare the traits of the mice and little men.  Each year we have to identify the learning styles of each of our students and I have found it is also helpful to know the personality type of each. Like with most things in life the better informed you are the better job you can do.

  • W. Mark Thompson

    Love this post. Gotta share it.
    Can be applied to every area of life… including (but not limited to because I have an abundance thought process) business & politics.


  • tattood1

    I am a scarcity thinker.  I hate that.  Now, how do I change it?

  • Bill Teal

    The more you give away the more comes back to you. My motto: Every meal is a banquet, every day a holiday, and I am on vacation all the time! Life is good, God is in His Heaven, He saved me and has given me Salvation and His Everlasting Care. Why should I be discouraged? He has my life in His Hands, and will keep me till the end. May He be praised now and forever!

  • Matthew Snyder

    I don’t remember where reading it – it might’ve been Jack Frost – but the same concept of this thinking, but as an “orphan mentality” and a “sonship mentality” instead, especially in terms of our relationship with God. 

    It’s a whole mind-renewing process, but the more I dwell on who I am in relation to God – particularly as a SON – the more I find myself thinking with an “abundance mentality”.

    Loved this. Keep sharing, sir.

  • Roxana Nunez

    I believe every day I move closer to abundance and further away from scarcity.  I do know that there are moments when I fail, and yet, they do not discourage me from keeping on and working harder, for there are great things coming all the time.

    I also am aware of people around me that do not subscribe to my theory, and I share my insight with them in the hope that they also come to an abundance mindset.  Not everyone listens and that is ok with me.  They will listen when they are ready.  

    Today I had such an example, when a friend called me on the phone and mentioned her resentment against someone who did a terrible thing over 10 years ago.  She is still bitter.  She asked me if I would be and I said no.  She asked me why and I answered “because it is in the past, you can’t change it.  It is also hurting you, not them.  In the end you forgive in order to liberate yourself from the pain”.  Do I think she is ready?  I don’t know.  I still hold to my belief and hope that some day she will be able to let it go, for her own sake.

  • TNeal

    When I’m tired, I slip into scarcity thinking although the last few years my wife and God have done a great job of turning my thinking around. After a few years of always finding food on the table and enough money in the bank, I figure it’s time to stop worrying about the finances and to start picking up the check at the restaurant.

  • Curt Beavers

    Loved it!

    Just a quick question..I too love to listen to books when I run…how do you or what app do you use to stop and take notes while running like you mentioned in this post?

  • Viktor

    Dear Mr Hyatt,
    I am writing from Slovakia, Eastern Europe. I highly admire your hard work and I so greatful for your blog posts. I am reading them over 3 years now. God used you in my life to grow me and shape me in a tremendous way. Thank you.
    I wanted to react to this blog post, because it is close to the way I think too. However I am not sure how to handle this topic, which also goes together with attitudes, positivism, negativism and which people should we be around. Myself want to understand this question, because in my country with all the history behind I just think it is more complex issue and a lot of factors comes together in a person. I understand you can work on your behavior and attiutude, but I am just not sure you can start up with a clean page. I believe some things are part of our unconsciousness what we can’t control. I could write a lot more, but nobody is going to read it then.
    Thank you again for helping me to grow!

  • Jo-Anne Russell

    You are absolutely right. Most people are a mix of the two. As the old saying goes, “Negativity breeds negativity.” I for one am a strong believer in that saying. Yes, maybe things can always get worse, but they can also get better. Fate has a way of following your attitude and delivering your path based on it. I for one, will be focusing on the positive and hopefully fate will come through.

  • Cindy Rhudy

    This is good, Michael! I used to be a “scarcity thinker”. At the root of scarcity thinking is fear. We behave what we really believe, and so if we believe we will fail, or be rejected, etc. then that is what we expect to happen. A person who functions in scarcity thinking has great difficulty accepting when things to go well, and even if they experience some success. I know this, because remember, I was one!

    What changed for me was when I realized I was living small in the light of a Great God! If I truly believed God is who he says he is, and will do what he says he will do, then I had to reevaluate my faith! I decided to live out my faith, and now I’m a part of things I never dreamed of! 

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  • Amoalf

    I will be showing your comments to my classroom soon and as a class we are going to respond your thoughts on the two types of thinkers. I posted this as a test to make sure I could post from the school.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Very cool. Thanks for doing that!

  • Ashleyscwalls

    I am an abundant thinker that lives in a reasonable place of “yes”!

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  • Joe Wickman

    Thanks so much for this post.
    As a pastor I’ve found it essential to force myself to exercise the discipline of “abundance thinking”, even when surrounded by “scartity thinking”. Several years ago, in a period of my life that I can only attribute to God’s hand shaping me, I was appointed a church of 8, yes 8, people. (long story) Most of these 8 were so entrenched in “scarticy thinking” that my arrival was jarring. I refused to allow myself to be pulled into the realm of “nothing is possible, even with God” and persisted in this crazy idea that He had a plan for the church to grow.Not everyone was pleased with my attitude, and many on the BOA even tried to hammer me back into compliance with the “code of poverty” that had long reigned in the church. Opportunities to discourage me and draw me into their thinking were never missed. Once, while at a board meeting, I was asked, “Pastor what do you DO with all your money?”, as if it was any business of theirs. Well, the truth of the matter is that I was working 50 hours/week at my DAY job, as well as 25 hours/ week as their pastor. For that the church paid me a whopping $100 /week, plus $25 for travel expenses. So I’m making a whopping $5 / hour. On top of that my family of 4 did not even have health insurance for several years during that time. During that time, we our family also accounted for a significant percentage of the church’s budget. For some, however, the fact that I was gainfully employed and not starving (though nearly) was too much to bear. I was to give an accounting of every penny.Through it all, God was good, and He forced me to train my mind to think in terms of abundance. In 4 years of leadership I had to say goodbye to some, but got to welcome 50 others. Soon our first converts arrived, an alcoholic and his family. God used the new believers to reshape everyone’s thinking. While I have since been appointed as a staff member at a church of over 1,000, I will always remember the sensation of standing up every week and preaching light into darkness, hope into hopelessness.

    I have often thought of writing a book on the effects of “the poverty mentality” and how it keeps people stuck in the status quo. This enduring principle will, God-willing, serve me well for years to come.

    Thanks for listening,

    – Joe

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  • Dr. Jason Cabler

    Great post!  I think we all can tend to vacillate between the two mindsets at times.  I’ve worked hard over the years to foster the abundance mindset as much as possible because I see great benefits from it.  

    The scarcity mindset seems to only serve to keep you where you are or even set you back in life, not being able to reach the full potential that God wishes for you.  

    More people need to come to the realization that God wants superabundance for us, but we have to do what it takes to make it available, and it starts with our mindset.

    I came across this post today after checking SEO results for a 2 part series I just published that you may find interesting.

    “Scarcity Never Works”-

    “Infinite Abundance for You”-

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  • Bs

    Two types of thinkers, are you kidding me? This article is ridiculous and I know a multitude of people that do not fit into these rigid categories.

    This is not a matter of being slightly one way or the other, there are just completely different types of mindsets out there.

    Seriously, wtf.

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  • GinaParris

    Not only do I love these insights, but I’m fascinated that you noted them while you were running! How did you remember all 16 items after your run? (I’m feeling memory scarcity!)