Have you ever thought that, if you just had this or that, you could do something great? The reason why you don’t accomplish what you want to do is because you don’t have what you need to do so. That may be true. However, abundant resources can create sloppy thinking. And sloppy thinking is a bigger problem than limited resources.

What’s “God’s Will”?

I realized this recently when I was talking with a businessman friend of mine. He had attended a conference for Christian businesspeople. The keynote speaker asked an interesting question. He asked if God’s will is that we have unlimited resources or limited resources.

Now, I have to admit, I initially thought that was a stupid question. That’s probably because I thought God wants us to have unlimited resources and I am painfully aware of my limited resources. I am working on a time management application right now that I just know will be a huge success if I can come up with the resources to make it happen. Give me unlimited resources and I know I will change the time management world.

The speaker said that God’s will for businesspeople is that they have limited resources. Now don’t get lost in the theology here because that’s not the point. What caught my attention was his reasoning for saying that we need limited resources rather than unlimited resources.

The Job of a Businessperson

He said that the very job of a businessperson is to accomplish things with limited resources. That is the core of what a businessperson does. Business people make things happen out of limited resources. I can buy off on that. All the businesspeople I know are constantly juggling things to make the projects they are working on fit within a budget that is too small.

Then the speaker was audacious enough to say that limited resources are a good thing. I was with him when he said that working with limited resources is the nature of things in the business world. But when he proposed that limited resources are good, he lost me.

Resources and Our Thinking

My friend then went on to explain why limited resources are good. Limited resources force us to become disciplined in our thinking. They makes us clarify the outcome we want, carefully scrutinize how to get there, set priority with our resources, and not be wasteful.

On the other hand, abundant resources allow us to be fuzzy about our goals, not think that much about how to get there, be vague about our priorities, and be wasteful. In short, abundant resources create sloppy thinking.

Staying Disciplined in Our Thinking

One of the big challenges in business is to never fall into the undisciplined thinking that comes from growing resources. We don’t want to think that we could do great things if we only had more resources. We need to have the discipline in our thinking to do the most with the limited resources we have.

Only if we do that will we see our resources grow. The resources arrive when we are disciplined in our thinking. Then they stop growing, or maybe even start shrinking, if we lose the discipline that limited resources force upon us.

I think about some of the business greats of my lifetime. Sam Walton never started acting as if he had all the money in the world. Warren Buffet kept the same lifestyle year after year as he got wealthier and wealthier. His kids said that, growing up, they had no idea that their dad was rich.

Rising Stars Versus Bottle Rockets

In the business world, there are rising stars and there are bottle rockets. Rising stars go up and up and up. They have their good times and they have their bad times but the trajectory of their businesses always seem to be on to bigger and better things. Then there are bottle rockets. They go up fast, get to the sky, and then explode. It’s a nice ride but soon there is nothing left.

So what makes some businesspeople or companies rising stars and others bottle rockets? It is not how they deal with the limited resources. It is how they deal with the resources as they grow.

If you want to be a bottle rocket, here is the path to follow. Start with limited resources. Be very disciplined in your thinking with those limited resources. Make them grow until you have a lot more resources at your disposal. Then lose the disciplined thinking that gave you those resources. If you do that, you will see your sloppy thinking make things explode before your very eyes. Your downfall won’t be your limited resources that you started with. It will be the sloppy thinking that came with your more abundant resources.

My guess is that you actually want to be a rising star. If so, there is a different path to follow. Start with limited resources. Let those limited resources force you to have disciplined thinking. Then, as your resources grow, apply that same disciplined thinking to your abundant resources that you did to your limited resources. If you don’t fall into the trap of sloppy thinking that often goes with abundant resources, you will likely go higher and higher.

The Starting Place

Notice that, both rising stars and bottle rockets start in the same place. They start with limited resources. So, in the business world, having limited resources isn’t the problem. It is just the starting place. All businesspeople start there.

Those limited resources can train our minds to think in a very disciplined way. If we learn to be disciplined in our thinking, our resources will grow. That is when we face one of the biggest challenges in our careers. We must resist the temptation to become sloppy in our thinking just because we think we can.

In the business world, we can never afford to become sloppy in our thinking. So beware of expanding resources. They can become a much bigger problem for our business than scarcity because they tend to allow us to fall into sloppy thinking.

The business world can be accommodating to limited resources. We see people succeeding all the time with limited resources. What the business world will not tolerate is sloppy thinking. The business world is quick to reward the disciplined thinking that goes with limited resources but it is brutal on the sloppy thinking that tends to accompany abundance.

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Category: Friday, February 10, 2017

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1 Comment

  • Amelia Inman

    Hi Professor Muncy,

    I enjoyed reading this topic of sloppy thinking! I definitely needed this!

    2014 Business Alumni,
    Amelia Inman