Think Win-Win: Stephen Covey and the Abundance Mentality

Do you feel threatened by the success of others? Do you worry that there isn’t enough success to go around? According to Stephen Covey, cultivating an abundance mentality is how to beat the feeling that when others win you automatically lose.

Who Is Stephen Covey?

Stephen Covey, the author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was a business man, author, and professor. He wrote several books about leadership and management with an emphasis on values and principles.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey created the idea of the abundance mentality. The book is a business and self-help book about accomplishing goals by conforming to a set of principles based on character ethics.

The book is organized into seven habits which teach the reader to be independent, work with others, and continue to grow.

Both Forbes and Time Magazine have named the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the top 25 business management books. Since its first publication the book has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and the audio book has sold more than one million copies in the United States.

The Abundance Mentality

When it comes to success many believe in a survival-of-the-fittest mindset.

But, according to the abundance mentality, Covey says there is equal opportunity for everyone to succeed. Just because someone else is successful doesn’t mean you can’t be. According to Covey, you can celebrate the success of others instead of fearing it.

In order to cultivate an abundant mindset, consider Covey’s first 3 habits of highly effective people.

Be Proactive

The first habit of highly effective people, according to Covey, is a proactive attitude. Instead of being reactive, prepare for and anticipate potential issues, problems, and challenges you might face in your business or other pursuit. If you wait for problems to arise so you can react, it might be too late.

Part of having a proactive attitude is constantly assessing your situation. In order to anticipate potential problems, you’ll need to constantly reflect on your goals and how to accomplish them.

Begin with the End in Mind

The most important stage in any project is solidifying your plans before beginning. Regardless of what you are doing, set goals and begin with the end in mind.

This idea also relates to how you see yourself and your self-worth. Based on principles and values you have established, think about who you want to be in the future and then figure out what you need to do to get there.

If you begin a project or try to move forward without considering the end goal, you might lose motivation or become disorganized. Setting rigid goals and prioritizing them is a good way to mitigate potential motivational issues.

Put First Things First

Whatever you endeavor to do, take leadership over it. Only you can decide what the most important goal is and how to begin. This is the process of prioritizing. Every part of your goal is important, but some steps are more pressing than others. According to Covey, you should prioritize your goals in this order:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important and Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

Categorizing your goals in this way will help you stick to a schedule and accomplish everything you set out to do.

Other Ways to Cultivate an Abundance Mentality

abundance mentality covey

In addition to following Covey’s first 3 habits, there are some other ways to cultivate an abundance mentality.


In addition to being proactive, praise yourself for the things you do well. With regard to the abundance mentality, Covey stressed celebrating the accomplishments of others. In celebrating those triumphs, remember to celebrate and praise your own achievements as well.

If you keep in mind how you are succeeding, it will be easier to not feel threatened by others.

Take Control and Responsibility

Related again to your proactive attitude, take control and responsibility of your actions. If you begin to victimize yourself in response to others’ success, you will quickly lose sight of your own goals and ambitions.

Stay Grateful

Be grateful for the abundance of success around you. In addition to feeling threatened by the success of others, you might also be envious of what they have and you lack. Avoid slipping into this mentality by being grateful for everything you have.

Always Look for New Opportunities

Another key to cultivating an abundance mentality is always looking for new opportunities. Don’t get bogged down hyper-focusing on one thing. Take time to explore your options so you don’t miss an opportunity that’s sitting right in front of you.


Cultivating an abundant mentality will help you find success. If you’re overly concerned with what someone else around you has achieved and are convinced that their success comes at the expense of your own, your interpersonal relationships will suffer.

Achieving an abundant mindset can reduce your anxiety about competing with others, and foster gratitude for the opportunities already available to you. Be proactive, set goals, and prioritize to start living with an abundant mindset.