Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A discussion with John Mackey of Whole Foods Markets

As you all know, I'm a huge proponent of healthy eating. In my early 20's I left my junk food diet behind and discovered healthy, whole foods. It truly transformed my life. I've also worked in the health food industry and am so pleased to see this industry come fully into its own as a viable addition in the marketplace. You know, when Wal-Mart's talking about organic....the times they are a changing....

John Mackey is the CEO of Whole Foods Markets(WFM). Whole Foods Markets are a success story and I'm quite happy about that. Having worked in the health food industry in the early days, I can tell you that this success is the result of the many risk-taking efforts made by people in the 70's and 80's to bring health foods to the marketplace at a time when whole foods, vitamins and herbs etc. were seen as items that the counterculture bought but certainly not mainstream mom and pop. John was one of those early pioneers who rode through the lean times. Committed to their mission, they hung in there and we have all benefited! Today if you walk in to WFM you'll definitely see mom and pop shopping too!

I think its terrific that Whole Foods Markets are successful. For Life Puzzle makers, having WFM available supports your ability to go 6-10 on the Choosing Continuum--building a life that honors the whole you are becoming. Since food is such a necessity for this, WFM provides lots of options and choices to create a healthy nutrition lifestyle!

Recently I stumbled upon John's blog where he had posted an article about 'Conscious Capitalism'. It is an essay about a new business paradigm--a new model that he feels would be beneficial. On March 7th, (you'll need to scroll down through the blog), I sent him a response and then on March 14th--he responded to mine. It is a lively dialogue. I am proposing that while Conscious Capitalism is better than the current version of capitalism--it still falls short of where we need to go.

I'm suggesting a Whole Life Economic system--where instead of products/services/money being the foundation of the economic system, we replace that with "life"--human, animal, earth, water, air. In is the most important factor in decision Whole Life Economics--life is the most important factor in decision making. So, we replace "anything that makes money is good" with a "anything that enhances the entire community of life is good"....And thus, business decisions reflect this.

With this transformation, I also recognize that the key to this change is Consciousness! This is the challenge because most people live on the 0-5 reactive, unconscious side of the Choosing Continuum. I say this because it has been validated over and over again through my experiences while teaching Life Puzzle to groups. When I ask an audience where they are on the Choosing Continuum--over and over again they say 0-5. And then we discuss why this is so. It's because all the systems we grow up in our culture are essentially 0-5 reactive, unconscious. For example--our medical system is a wait til its broken then fix it--reactive, not proactive. Reactive systems create reactive people which further reinforces reactive systems. Only about 10% of the population has become aware of and is now moving towards the 6-10 proactive, conscious.

And that's the gist of what I'm trying to say to John. Conscious Capitalism is perhaps a 6 on the Choosing Continuum....It begins the shift towards conscious choice--but tying it to capitalism (which makes "capital or money" the primary value) is to get stuck again in old model. It is better than the current 0-5 model, but doesn't go far enough to get us where we need to go! I believe that if we had 60% of the population on the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum--it would provide the tipping point to move beyond Conscious Capitalism and onto Conscious "Whole Lifeism" (we probably need a better term!)

But it is a start--and I hope our dialogue helps us all start looking at this issue. Please check out his blog and add your two cents too!

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