Scarcity & Sea Glass | Life By The Sea

My coat is on, I’ve got tissues, chapstick and my phone in my pocket. It’s windy, cold and I’m heading out to the beach. I’m early and because of the unappealing weather conditions, I’ll probably be the only one out there. The closer I get to the shell bed up ahead, the more I’m able to see that people have already found their way there.

My initial reaction is always the same and a painful reminder of how I used to be, but then my demeanor changes and I decide to give myself credit as I am not the same person anymore. I used to be the person who would think, “someone’s already made it to where I was headed, and when I get there, the thing I came there looking for won’t be there for me, there isn’t enough for the both of us“.


For a more comprehensive video of a BIG haul video, click here!

To get to the lesson here… we’ll use entrepreneurship as the example, but feel free to apply this to any relevant area of life. When I tell you that sea glass is an incredibly POWERFUL metaphor for many aspects of life, you need to believe me. I can use sea glass as a metaphor for just about anything these days, LOL.

When I would approach shell beds in the past, when I newly transplanted to the Outer Banks, I would be SO excited to sift through it all by myself. Here is this giant pile (literally!) of opportunity to find treasure! And no one else is here. Back then I thought, okay this is perfect… the only way I am going to walk out of this with some treasure in my pocket is if I have literally no other competition. I got this!

When I saw others walking over – I worried, were they going to get to the good stuff? And nothing would be left for me? So I rushed. And when you rush, when you miss things. When you operate from scarcity, you shoot yourself in the foot. Not to mention, it’s an icky way of moving through life – panicking to make sure YOU get the goods before others can get to it. Why can’t we both have some? Why can’t we both win and succeed?

The shell beds (the market/clients), they don’t belong to me. I don’t own them, even if I was “there first”. What the sea chooses to let wash ashore is for anyone and everyone. And if others came and found treasure while I was there, were they taking it from me? No. And does the sea owe it to me and me alone to make sure I walk away with the rewards more so than others? No, it doesn’t.

I started to change how I felt in the shell beds. I literally checked my shit at the door and said “no, we’re not doing that” when it comes to being competitive about finding these treasures. I love to achieve, but being competitive feels gross and off-brand for me. Why would it make me happy to walk away with more than someone else? Or even worse… to walk away with EVERYTHING available, and watch them go home empty handed? (Business-wise this would look like ME booking every single family session on the Outer Banks – it’s not only not possible, but it’s just selfish to even think that way. Some people do this, and then they burn out or have to cancel sessions because they’ve overcommitted themselves. It’s not worth it!)

Something incredible happened when I let go of the scarcity “there’s not enough for both of us!” mindset when it came to spending time in these shell beds. I would walk into shell beds that people already sifted through and I would STILL come out with gold! Like, tons of amazing pieces! Basically, I put my head down and stayed in my own lane. No worries about what someone was “taking from me”. The other day, several people were in the same shell bed as me, making their way out after looking through and I pulled a BIG lavender piece and a big cobalt blue, too – WOW! They didn’t see it, and my intense laser focus brought those pieces to me that day.

Having that many pieces in my pocket that day, I knew I could happily give some away to others if they were having a harder time finding it than I was. Knowing that truly, I do not need every one of these pieces and it would be beyond easy to share this luck with someone else. What this looks like in entrepreneurship is lightening your workload a little when it’s already feeling heavy and referring clients to some other wonderful photographers. Being secure enough to refer to others and share the market with others, if you’re financially able to do so.

We also have to remember that other people will walk by the same piece that you do, and not see it. They aren’t looking for it with the same technique that you are. In entrepreneurship, someone will walk RIGHT by something that doesn’t work for them but will work beautifully for you. My business has always been about more than photography. People who hire me rarely don’t know about my personality, it’s not often at all that I’m just a random internet search of a hire. They choose me because we’re meant to work together and because I’m what they are looking for. I have designed my business in a way that brings me the treasures I call clients, the ones who are meant to find me.

Another revelation was this: how do we know everyone sifting through a shell bed is also looking for sea glass? Some are there for shells. And all along, we worry people are going to take what’s ours, the thing think there’s not enough of. Whoops. Assuming really does make an ass out of me. Not out of you. Just me.

When you loosen the grip of “there’s not enough for me” and operating under the assumption that everyone wants the same exact thing as you, and you have to FIGHT to get it, you’ll be surprised at what happens next. This isn’t toilet paper and the pandemic. There really IS enough business to go around, you just have to market yourself as genuinely as possible and the people you’re for will find you and those who are repelled, they’ll stay away. And to me, those are the shells. I’m not there looking for shells, but occasionally I’ll find one great enough to take home – I’m there for the sea glass. Those are my shiny, perfect clients who know me and love me dearly. I don’t go to the shell bed and try to take every single thing I find home, just the stuff that I love most.

On a final note, shell beds aren’t limited. There will ALWAYS be more. Sometimes I won’t see them for days, weeks and unfortunately even up to a month… but they always eventually come back. Seasons of entrepreneurship can feel like this, too. It’s ebbed and flowed, like the tide, but if I am offering something that people need, they find me and we make it happen beautifully.

I hope this has helped you today. I have learned more about life from walking miles and miles looking for sea glass than in a lot of other aspects of life. Feel free to click on the links mentioned above to see how I actually spot it! THANK YOU for reaching! XOXO


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