The principle of scarcity is simple.  We tend to only value things that are rare.  Gold, diamonds, vacations, winning the lottery, you get the idea.

We tend to see far less value in things that are more common, or are readily available, but that may actually be substantially more valuable, especially in accumulation.

Perhaps not when held out objectively, or when asked to analyze it, but when it comes down to day-to-day living, we “act” like we don’t value these things as much.  Things like sleep, food, our bodies, our environment, the air, our government, exercise, our churches, relationships, time, our families (parents, children, spouses, siblings).  Again, you get the idea.

These are things that are monumentally more important than some of the things that we dedicate far more time to, or through our actions, seem to ascribe far more value to.

In our efforts to achieve greatness, to accomplish goals, to push ourselves to be better (all of which are of great value), we must be very careful to not forget the value of the things right in front of us.  Very often a more sound appreciation of what we have, is faster path to happiness than trying to acquire something more.

And when you can do both, then you’ve reached a state of perpetual living that is truly worth living for.

Additionally, the principle of scarcity can be reverse engineered.  Remember, the idea of Life-Engineering is not to just understand the principles that govern our world, our lives, our behavior, but to know how to appropriately employ them at the right moment to achieve some worthy objective.

The value in understanding the principle of scarcity is knowing how to use it to increase peoples perception of value in things that are important.

Remember the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder”?  Scarcity.  It’s because sometimes relationships really do benefit from from a little “time off”.

Have you ever had a friend that felt like they could call you at any time, talk for as long as they’d like, and sometimes take an excruciatingly long time getting to the point.  Try introducing scarcity into the system.  Sometimes don’t be available, or when you are, let them know you’d love to talk, and have 15 minutes free right now before you have to go.  You’ll find that they not only get to the point, but they suddenly appreciate those 15 minutes, because they know free-time must be scarce for you right now.  Interestingly, you both come away happier.

A while back there was a psychological experiment at Harvard University where they had two photography classes.  In each class, students were required to take pictures of campus, then submit three, which would be blown up into gorgeous, huge photographs.  Both classes were told that they could keep one of their finished photos, but that the other two would be sent away.  One class was told that they had however much time to decide which one to keep, and if they changed their mind, it didn’t matter, they could swap at any time.  The other class was told they had to decide immediately, and could not change their mind.

Interestingly, when polled afterward, the latter class, the one with fewer options, expressed far more enjoyment in the class, than the first group.  Fewer choices led to more happiness.

Leaders will find their teams naturally respect them more, value their input more, and look up to them more, if they’re perhaps a little less available (not unavailable, at least not for too long).

The key is, if you find something that people should appreciate, but they don’t, try taking it away (at least for a while), or make it harder to come by.  You’ll find their appreciation for whatever it is will skyrocket, because of the law of scarcity.

Have you ever talked to someone who just found out they have cancer, and only have a few months to live?  I did last week, and it broke my heart.  Never has the principle of scarcity been more clear, when suddenly the thing you thought was most prevalent – time – is gone.  How starkly that tends to change your perception of what is valuable.

Life-engineering is about finding value.  Sometimes we have to make it, but sometimes we just have to open our eyes.


So yesterday’s experience at the car dealership caused me to reflect on a principle I’ve often taught and thought about.  It’s the power of gravity. Gravitation is the natural phenomenon by which all objects with mass attract each other.  Every object in our environment exerts a force upon us.  We don’t really notice this though because of the huge force of the earth beneath our feet, but it’s there.

Similar to the forces pulling on us by the physical objects in our environment, there are spiritual, emotional, and psychological forces exerted upon us by our environment as well.

Back to the dealership now… standing there in the showroom, surrounded by the new ’08 Jag lineup, knowing I could just jump in one of those cars and drive away for another 4 years was really, really tempting.  I had already made the decision to purchase a far more modest vehicle.  But all the wisdom behind my prior decision sure seemed vague sitting there under the spotlights (they do that intentionally, wow is it effective marketing). 

And of course there was my salesman, anxious to tell me all about the new technology (I’m a sucker for gadgetry, and because he’s a good salesman, he knew that – he’s a powerful persuader).

Fortunately, I forced myself to pull away, forced myself to realize that in that environment, surrounded by those shiny, new, expensive cars, I wouldn’t be using my best judgment.

Once I’d successfully dragged myself away from a much disappointed salesman (who really didn’t want me to go), my brain began to clear, the fog of my prior surroundings disappeared, and I was able to remember and appreciate the reasons why I’d made the decision I did.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of paying attention to your surroundings.  They play such an important role in the decisions you make. 

If you’re at a party, for instance, where bad decisions are happening all around you, then all of a sudden making bad decisions becomes so much easier.  On the other hand, if you’re “standing in holy places”, or putting yourself in constructive environments with like-minded people who have similar goals in life, their influence tends to propel you forward.

Whichever environment you choose exerts a force upon you, so choose wisely.

This can be a powerful mechanism of influence, when used appropriately.  The Doctrine and Covenants suggests “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also” (D&C 84:106). Good leaders know how to leverage this principle.

So it becomes helpful, even urgent, for us to take a look at our surroundings.  What pictures hang on your walls?  What music do you listen to?  What friends do you have?  Where do you hang out?  What does your home look like?  What does your ROOM or your car look like?  What really IS in your environment?  Look around, and ask yourself if the things that surround you are constructive, clean, positive, healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and orderly?  If not, then the influence they’re exerting upon you might be one of your most significant self-imposed limitations.

So catch a vision of who you want to be, and what you want to become, and then surround yourself with people, objects, sounds, and reminders of that vision.  Pay attention to your environment – it’s force (for better or worse) is inescapable.


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Let’s face it; we live in a world of “mass”. 

Mass marketing, mass communication, massive options, massive competition… everywhere we turn there’s a massive host of alternatives.  But somehow, every so often, a leader emerges. 

It’s someone who somehow figured out a way to do whatever it was remarkably better than everybody else.  Somehow they found a key strength that they knew they could leverage better than the rest.  In business, this is called a “distinctive core competency”.  It’s something that you’re inherently good at.  A core strength; we all have them, and they’re usually all different.

True leaders that push themselves above the masses are those that have identified their strengths, had the discipline and foresight to focus on them, and figured out how to communicate them in a way that makes them stand above the rest.  They became “remarkable”. 

Being remarkable means being worthy of remark – it means people who encountered you or your service appreciated some aspect of it enough that they just couldn’t wait to tell somebody else about it. 

People who are remarkable are able to focus their energies on continuing to improve their core strength, because their customers evangelize for them.  Word of mouth momentum pushes them above the rest in a natural, organic, and unbelievably viral way.

Is it your service?  Is it the superior way you connect with your clients or peers?  Is it your unprecedented familiarity with something unique and uncommon?  Is it the incredible power and professionalism with which you market yourself?  Is it the superior visitor value of your website?  Is it your advanced use of technology to reach new-age consumers and get maximum exposure to your services?  Is it your uncanny ability to understand people at a very innate level and connect them with they want most?  Is it your uncommonly accurate ability to interpret your surroundings and detect pitfalls?  Is it your naturally compelling communication skills?  Is it the understandably unique ability to persevere?  Is it your ability to lead, to guide, to direct, to empathize, to teach, or to connect?

It can by any number of things, the point is, find something.  Find the one thing that you know you can do better than anybody else in your field.  It’ll likely be something you find yourself naturally good at, or something that you particularly enjoy. 

One of the hardest parts of becoming remarkable is in acknowledging that you can’t be all things to all people.  If you try, you’ll end up being nothing to anybody – just another part of the mass.  You (like anybody) have “bandwidth limitation”.  There’s only a certain amount you can do in a day.  You can either spread that time spread out over a broad range of activities, doing none of them better than anybody else, or you can focus those energies on one thing, increasing your chances of doing that one thing, vastly better than the rest.  The point is, don’t dilute your efforts.

As you focus on your “core competency”, you’ll find yourself standing out above the crowd.  You’ll become remarkable, and you’ll find a natural momentum that propels you farther than you ever dreamed.