What Whole Foods CEO Wishes He Knew Earlier In His Career

What’s the one thing you wish you could go back and tell your younger self? Would you do anything different to help you reach your dreams?

Founder and CEO John Mackey of the Billion Dollar company Whole Foods, was recently asked, “What’s the one thing you wish you knew earlier in your career?”

Not a bad question, right? How would you answer? Mackey quickly said, “I wish I knew the importance of being a more conscious leader earlier.”

Conscious Leadership is the name of his newest book. It’s the sequel to his earlier book Conscious Capitalism.

The word, Conscious, according to the Whole Foods Mogul is highly intentional.

“Business is associated with ‘busy-ness.,’” says Mackey. “Business people work so hard. There are often so many things they have to do every day. It’s very externally focused. It’s very task oriented.”

Mackey says the word ‘Conscious’ refers not to the exterior but to the interior-our inner beings. It’s where our emotions lie; it’s where our spirituality resides. It’s where our self-development is.

It’s estimated that the majority of our decisions and actions are driven by subconscious thought. Some research even claims that 95% of our waking decisions are done subconsciously!

In my almost 20 years as an organizational leader, I’ve reacted, responded, made regrettable decisions, burned bridges and burned out all because of that 95%.

And now, as a Business developer and Leadership Coach, I want more. I want more than just market share success; I want to alleviate suffering in the world of work.

Of course I want my business to be profitable; But I also want it to be purposeful. And I have a hunch you feel the same.

Conscious Leadership is just one of the 4 Pillars of Conscious Capitalism, a movement with a vision to…

“Create a better world for everyone. A way forward for humankind to liberate the heroic spirit of business and our collective entrepreneurial creativity so we can be free to solve the many challenges we face.”

This higher view profitability is connected to a ‘win, win, win’ mentality, one of nine pillars that make up the Conscious Leadership Framework. Says Mackey,

Purpose and profits are not opposites. They’re compatible. Having a higher purpose can result in higher profits…It means that business creates strategies where the customers are getting better prices and higher quality, the employees are getting higher pay and better benefits, suppliers are getting better deals and investors are making higher profits.

Mackey boils Conscious Leadership down to 9 Pillars. When I was trained as a Conscious Leadership coach, we practiced the  15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

Next week we’ll boil it down to the Core 4 framework that I believe most profoundly liberate leaders and teams when working with them.

For now, I want to leave you with 3 questions to help you realign yourself as a conscious leader. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Why did I enter into (this) business, entrepreneurship, leadership in the first place? Am I still on that path? Am I being true to that original vision? Have I outgrown that vision?
  2. What would others say? Feedback is the superhighway to transformation. Your leadership, team, organization can only grow as far as you’re willing to go. Use the Start, Stop, Continue Continuum. Ask 5 or more teammates, coworkers, even family members what they feel you might want to Start doing, Stop Doing, and Continue doing. Then, ask yourself,
  3. Who is it that I want to be in 3 years from now…or 3 months from now? How do I want to show up? How do I want others to experience me? What identity do I need to adopt in order to do that?