College, Interning, and the Abundance Mentality

Recently I’ve been rereading (more like completely finishing) Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s an incredibly amazing book and it seems to change my perspective on life every time I read it. So in case you couldn’t tell, I would wholeheartedly recommend purchasing it.

I just finished looking over Habit #4 of the public victory mentality, which deals with thinking “Win/Win or No Deal” meaning that we must use strength and empathy to come up with a decision that benefits all parties involved. If we can’t, then we will walk away from the situation entirely.

As someone who is almost ready to leave college and has mixed feelings on the institution and my time there, I wonder how much of the educational system is built upon the Abundance Mentality versus the Scarcity Mentality. To clarify, the AM is a worldview that promotes the ideas of partnership and opportunities out there for everyone. The SM focuses on the ‘there’s not enough out there for everyone’ idea, and that there are always winners and losers. One of the examples Mr. Covey gives is that only so many people can be ‘A’ students (p.219, paperback edition).

But when I thought about it, even though he uses that as a negative point, that’s relatively true in higher education. Many institutions promote the scarcity mentality, and say that there’s not enough X to go around. Whether its grades, awards, accolades, etc. there’s a distinction between the best, and every one else. To a certain extent, I don’t believe that is a bad thing. Everyone cannot get A’s in a course realistically, and many don’t do the work that merits it. Still, the education system as it is promotes antagonism and the Win/Lose mentality, and with the amount of debt college grads are piling up, its becoming increasingly hard to say whether the educational system is even worth it.

In my opinion, this is where interning comes in. I don’t really think that the Scarcity Mentality of education will ever go away, but instead of focusing on the flaws in education we can move into other situations that will serve us much longer. Interning is a great way to show how to work for yourself and your boss. You’re in a lower position (and hopefully practicing humility as well) which means that you might feel the need to go into lose/win positions, or get goaded into doing something you are uncomfortable with to appease your boss. In this situation, I really support focusing on Win/Win or No Deal, and calmly, effectively, and thoughtfully explaining to your boss what you thought your defined roles were, your goals, and what you believe their aims for you are.

This probably comes off as another one of those “college isn’t everything” posts – probably because it is – but I believe that the skills of Win/Win and the Abundance Mentality are applicable no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Cover of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effectiv...

Cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


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