February 20, 2017

Wisdom for your Week: A Conversation with John Mackey and Marc Gafni – Topic 4: Love

John Mackey is Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market, as well as the Co-Chair of the Center for World Spirituality Board of Trustees.

In this week’s video wisdom post, Marc Gafni, author of Your Unique Self, and John Mackey, co-author of Conscious Capitalism, revisit the moment of their first meeting when John made a lasting impression on Marc with the words, “Love is not weak. Love is strong.” With this as a starting point for this fourth topic in the seven-part dialogue series between these two visionary leaders, they discuss “love coming out of the closet” as a real force in business. This force can enable greater workplace bonding, creativity, and innovative business practice that lead to competitive advantage. They discuss masculine and feminine relationships to love as an emotion, as a guiding principle in the work world, and as a gravitational force. And, they consider how love relates to power. Don’t miss this or any of their other discussions from this series, which are available on our website and at the Whole Foods blog.


Join the two friends in their dialogue…

John Mackey: Let me put [love] in the context of business, because love is not something that has been commonly expressed in business. Look at the type of metaphors that businesses use to think about themselves historically.  A lot of them have been war metaphors. Let’s kill those guys. Let’s roll. The whole staff and line reporting is all military-type metaphor… A killing in the market. Let’s crush those guys…

Love has been in the closet. Why has love been in the closet? It’s this amazing… It’s what holds an organization together. It’s the glue. It’s the basis of relationship, loyalty, and trust. They all emanate out of love.

And, when I thought about it, and I got deeper into it, I realized it’s because people think that if you express love, that you’re weak. That love in the business sense… [shakes head]… “This is a time of war! We can’t have love now because we’re fighting and struggling, and love will just make us weak and will make us tender. And then, the big, bad guy will roll over us and crush us.” So, love has been in the closet. It’s been hidden.

But, we’ve reached a level now in our unfolding, in the advancement of our consciousness, in our societies, and our business where it’s time for love to come out of the closet. Now, part of that is the fact that women are so much more prevalent in the workplace now… When we were researching for our book, we found some amazing statistics…

So, I see the awakening of love in corporations. It’s very awake at Whole Foods Market. It’s alive and well in this company. And, I think it’s going to be something that’s a wave that’s going to spread throughout corporations around the world. Because it’s just the opposite of how’s it’s been portrayed. Love is not weak. Love is strong. For competitive advantage, an organization that has that kind of bonding… When people feel loved and cared about, they’re far more creative. They’re far more innovative. In fact, fear, which is the opposite of love, is the great de-movitator of creativity…. When people feel loved, they are safe and they can be creative. When people are scared, they contract, and they’re not very creative anymore.  So, we live in a world where businesses have to be innovative because everything you do can be copied. Ultimately, your ability to innovate faster than your competitors is your best competitive advantage. And, love is the great environmental enabler of creativity, so there are competitive reasons to allow love to manifest in organizations. Most business people haven’t completely understood that yet. But, they will. Also, the young entrepreneurs coming up will be much more comfortable with it. And, as women become more and more empowered and powerful, we’ll see the wave continue to spread.

Marc Gafni: Yes. So, you talk about [love] in a number of important ways, and one of them is this emergence of the feminine, in a feminine kind of a culture, which is the strength of the thing, the relational strength, the emotional strength. Let me just play with it against you in a different way, which complements it. Love is… You talk about love and creativity. So, what is love at its core? Love has an emotional core.  It’s got a feeling tone to it.  But, love at its core, what generates the feeling is a perception. To love someone is to see them. To love is to have eyes to see. Love is a perception. I would say in the terms we’ve been talking, Love is a Unique Self perception. You love a company because you see its Unique Self. You get a sense of its quality….

John Mackey: A perception and an interpretation.

Marc Gafni: Right. It’s a perception, so I see you, and I identify you with your highest self. I interpret you as your most gorgeous self. So, love is a perception, interpretation, identification kind of a process. And, so to be a lover is to have insight. And, creativity of course is based on insight. They’re both based in creating a space of insight that wasn’t available before.

John Mackey: We love what is beautiful, what is true, what is good…  We see it, and we love it because it is intrinsically loveable.

Marc Gafni: Right. So, we love the good, the true, and the beautiful. We’re attracted to it. We’re allured by it. And, in our loving it, it also becomes more real. When I love you, you are called to your deepest self. So, love is this powerful force of insight, which creates paradoxically… because you would think love and competition must be opposites… but paradoxically, love creates creative competitive advantage in a healthy marketplace because it creates insight, it creates bonding.

But, there’s another dimension of love I want to throw on the table. Love doesn’t just exist in the interpersonal human realm. Love is kind of a force of gravity. We can kind of go back and we can be science geeks together for a second here… We’ve got quarks, pre-atoms. So, quarks are hanging out on the street, and they come together…. They’re by themselves. They’re doing their thing. And, then, at some moment, the quarks come together, and they form atoms. Then, atoms are hanging out independently at the beginning of history, and they come together. And, they form a molecule. Now, the molecules are hanging out, and they form a cell. The cells come together, and they form a multi-cellular. And, ultimately plants, then animals. Then, a neural net. Then, triune brain. And, then, human beings at higher and higher levels of consciousness. And, at each stage, the movement that makes it happen is the most powerful evolutionary force in the world, the most masculine, powerful, penetrating, unfolding force, which is love—which is the movement towards higher and higher levels of mutuality. Higher and higher levels of recognition.

John Mackey: A type of voluntary exchange.

Marc Gafni: Voluntary exchange. That actually this force, and it’s so exciting that we’re talking about business now, is the evolutionary force of voluntarily coming together to give and receive value to form a larger emergence…. The evolutionary force of love… There’s this force of love, there’s this Eros that animates the process—this spirit which moves things within us to come together, to appreciate each other, to cooperate, and to form a larger union that’s more powerful. That’s the paradox. The paradox is that people always contrast power and love. “We need the love of power to be overwhelmed by the power of love.” People say things like that, which are very lovely. But, actually, power and love are not opposites. Love is powerful in that kind of strong, masculine, exploding sense of raw power. There’s nothing more powerful than love. When you sense that in a company, it doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be brittle. It can be soft, it can be tender, incredibly explosive, and loving. To have a division of a company, in Whole Foods or someplace else, work consciously based on this power of love—not as a saccharine kind of Hallmark card, but as this creative, innovative, exciting, alive force—it changes the game.

To learn more about your Unique potential as a creative, outrageous lover who is participating in an evolving cosmos, be sure to sign up for our newsletter through the CWS website and receive a free download of the “Evolutionary Love” essay, which is also available at the end of Your Unique Self.  Also, if you missed your chance to sign up for the 10-week telecourse, now entering its second exciting week, you can do so today! Recordings of the course are available each week if you can’t make it on the call.

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