The Bottom of the Barrel
Gail Pursell Elliott


There is a cliché about "scraping the bottom of the barrel" which can be interpreted a number of ways depending on the circumstances.  This metaphor has been applied to commodities or resources, to ideas or options, even to people.

Some have used this metaphor in terms of employee recruitment saying, "We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for staff."  Think about that statement.  Just who is at the "bottom of the barrel?"  Who wants to be referred to or thought of in that way?  I don't.  And I can't think of anyone else who does either.

Our attitudes determine how we interact with others as well as how we view the world around us.  If we voice the belief that we are "scraping the bottom of the barrel" for anything, what we are really saying is that we believe that our opportunities are limited, whether for success, substance, or relationships.  If we look for specific qualities in an employee, a company, a service provider, a product, a friend, or a companion, and find ourselves "scraping the bottom of the barrel," it means that we are ready to take what we can get rather than expecting to receive what we desire.  We are settling for less.

Once there was a supervisor who was quite disappointed in the follow-through of a staff member.  This supervisor said to the employee, "You know, I ask very little of you."  The employee responded, "That's why you don't get much."

Whenever we say or think that we're "scraping the bottom of the barrel" we have set in motion an attitude of lack and limitation and have already lost our dreams.  It's no secret that we must ask for what we truly desire and then expect to receive it.  We have heard this stated in many ways by many different philosophies for centuries.  It is the truth.

The only thing that holds us back is our own sense of FUD:  fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  We are the only ones who can eliminate FUD from our lives.  No one can do it for us.  It is interesting that we are more willing to buy a lottery ticket than we are to eliminate FUD from our lives.  Those who buy lottery tickets know the odds of winning are huge and based purely upon chance yet will justify their investment by saying, "Someone has to win.  It only takes one number.  Why not mine?"

Attitude and expectation have to be renewed daily.  The first step is to believe that we deserve what we desire.  That sets the tone for the rest of our day and thought processes.  We may look into the barrel and at first glance it may seem pretty depleted.  Yet we never know what will be contained in that last scraping or whether what we thought was the bottom was simply the surface of another reservoir of opportunity.

Our perspective determines what we find.   Nothing else.

Have a Great Day and be good to yourself.  You deserve it!

Speaker, Author, Educator, Human Resources and Training Consultant, Gail Pursell Elliott is president and founder of Innovations "Training With A Can-Do Attitude"TM - Promoting Dignity and Respect, No Exceptions, in companies and communities nationwide.  To receive her Food For Thought messages via email join the website mailing list at

More on attitude.


The world has a way of giving what is demanded of it.  If you are frightened
and look for failure and poverty, you will get them, no matter how hard
you may try to succeed.  Lack of faith in yourself, in what life will do for you,
cuts you off from the good things of the world.
Expect victory and you make victory.

Preston Bradley


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