My friend, fellow philosopher, and founder of Whole Foods, John Mackie, was interviewed by Oprah for her show, Super Soul Sunday, that aired yesterday, June 8. Go look for it online. It's a great conversation about love, passion, community, and the soul of business. Listening to John yesterday reminded me of something.
Last week, I mentioned a view that I'm growing into, the perspective that business is a form of art. Our work, whatever we do, can be a work of art. It can be productive of beauty, across many dimensions, it can be eloquently expressive, and it can, of course, be useful and valuable, all traits, as I see it, of art. And, like artists, we can experience moments of immense frustration in our craft as well as times of exuberant satisfaction.
Since first pondering the ideas that became my book The Art of Achievement, I've thought about our lives overall as works of art - every action being a stroke on the canvas, a chip in the marble, a turn in the dance, an improvised line in the music. And it's making more and more sense to me that this should be our central governing metaphor regarding business. It's all about creation, and expression, and bringing good things into existence that others can enjoy.
For a long time, our governing metaphors for the world of work have been sport and war. And that's easy to understand, on a certain level. But a predominant use of such metaphors has been insidiously detrimental to the development of modern commerce and corporate behavior.
John and his friend Raj Sisodia wrote an important book a couple of years back called Conscious Capitalism offering an alternative conception of business that departs from the normal paradigm pretty radically, and reorients our business thinking from centering around mainly acquisition to focusing on primarily contribution. Greed gives way to good, and ambition is enhanced by aspiration.
In this blog, I'll be reflecting further on these issues, now and then, in the coming months. In my book If Aristotle Ran General Motors, I wrote about what I call the four foundations of greatness: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. I'm beginning to reflect more on how these transcendentals should govern and power our work. For a variety of reasons, we now have a nice chance, in the early years of this new century, to grow a new paradigm for capitalism, for business, and for our daily work. I think we should do all we can to promote it and use it well.