The Near-Perfect Formula For Success, From The CEO Of Whole Foods Market
No matter how you define success, there is no magical formula—everyone's path looks a little different, and that's OK! But if we had to choose some footsteps to follow, perhaps they'd belong to John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market and author of Conscious Leadership. "My resume reads something like this," he shares on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. "Busboy, dishwasher, camp counselor, CEO of Whole Foods Market."
Quite a leap in terms of achievement, he'd say.
Mackey, however, sees success in a comprehensive way rather than one road toward prosperity—perhaps that's why you can apply his tips to any sort of accomplishment.
While there's no perfect formula for success, Mackey's framework is a sure start:
1. Have a win-win-win mindset.
You can't achieve personal success without helping others reach their goals. Take it from Mackey: "Whole Foods Market is stakeholder-oriented," he says. "We want all of them to flourish: We want our customers to have healthy food, and we can't do that unless our team members are also flourishing. Suppliers who create with us need to be successful, too, so we can ultimately flourish."
In other words, in order for you to win, every single stakeholder involved needs to win as well—hence, win-win-win.
It, unfortunately, is a lot easier said than done. Mackey notes that our society tends to gravitate toward a win-lose framework, where we think success stems from triumph over others (think phrases like climbing the corporate ladder). However, "Win-win-win is the essence of what business is," he says. "You're working to optimize the entire system to simultaneously create value for all the participants." When everyone wins, well, everyone wins.
2. Constantly evolve your team.
On a similar note, Mackey stresses the importance of growing a team of talented, passionate individuals. "If you have a good team, they're going to make you look good," he says. "Nobody is great by themselves, and you're no better than your team." Simple as that.
3. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and ask questions.
"Learning and growing is not just for children," Mackey explains. "It's for everyone, and it's never going to stop." Believe it or not, he didn't know much about being an entrepreneur before starting Whole Foods Market—in fact, he knew little about the organic food space itself.
Here's what he did: "Anyone who had business knowledge, I sat at their feet and asked questions," says Mackey. "I was a sponge." And a successful sponge at that.
That's not to say he didn't hit obstacles along the way. Sure, he's made tons of mistakes as a CEO—however, he likes to think of his mistakes as strengths rather than embarrassments. "I've made a lot of mistakes; I'm not embarrassed to admit that," he says. "I've learned a lot from my mistakes, and I get better."
4. Have a sense of self-awareness.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, Mackey encourages self-awareness. Having a sense of self-awareness builds humility, which allows you to learn from others and ultimately benefit from their knowledge. Without self-awareness (plus, say, a haughty attitude), you'll never be able to look past your own faults and see the bigger picture of success.
"I've met entrepreneurs that aren't that self-aware who eventually drive themselves off a cliff," Mackey (figuratively) notes. "If you don't have humility and self-awareness, your ego is ultimately going to make sure you self-destruct."
Sure, there's no perfect formula for success. But with Mackey's four tips, you'll have some footing. No matter what you want to achieve in this life, investing your time in others and learning along the way can only help you flourish.
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