I’d heard this from the stage before, as well as from books, personal development cds, mp3s etc. But this time it was different.
It went something like this, ‘I came home one weekend and talked to my wife. I was stressed out. The economy was tanking and we are a high-end recreational clothing company. Over 1,200 employees around the world rely on me and our leadership team. What am I going to do?’
“‘You can choose. Do you choose Love or Fear?” asked my wife Tara.’
Tara Sheahan, founder of Conscious Global Leadership, is a leader in the conscious capitalism movement. Her husband is Casey Sheahan, President and CEO of Patagonia. Casey told the crowd at the Conscious Capitalism Conference in San Francisco in April that he choose Love. The result? Patagonia grew at least 20% per year during the recession years.
Sheahan emphasized that, if you’re going to shift or transform a company, the shift has to begin with you.
I heard the word “love” from the stage at CC13 more than the last time I was at church.
‘We love our team members.’ ‘We love our customers.’ ‘We love our stakeholders.’
I ran into Tom Gardner, CEO of The Motley Fool, on the sidewalk after the conference and we talked a bit. I found him to be very open and willing to engage. He also noticed how often love was mentioned from the stage. One of the several times Gardner was on stage, he cited the statistic that 70% of the workforce is unhappy or unengaged. Loving a company can seem a far reach from that state of being, and this presents a huge opportunity.
Conscious Capitalism CEO and former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch stated that love is a four-letter word spelled TIME. He emphasized the need for changing the narrative around business from a story of me to a story of we in order to reinstate consumer trust. He stated that it’s the difference between “illness” and “wellness” and “there is a way to engage in business that has tremendous meaning.
During a later conversation on conscious leadership between Conscious Capitalism founder, and Whole Foods Co-Founder John Mackey and Ed Freeman, Professor of Business Administration at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and creator of the stakeholder model, they discussed the traits for ‘conscious’ leaders. A new kind of leader is emerging – one that is focused on self-actualization. These leaders have a higher degree of consciousness, emotional intelligence and systems intelligence. Mackey asserted that businesses cannot be more conscious than its leaders, so its leaders have a moral obligation to grow.
In another fascinating talk, Barrett Brown of MetaIntegral Associates (disclosure, I’m on the board of MetaIntegral Foundation) discussed Conscious Leadership and the ‘tools’ required to navigate complex change. This was a deeper look at what Mackey and Freeman asserted earlier about the emergence of new, conscious leaders.
I found Casey in the hall after his talk. I love Patagonia and have studied the company for years, so I knew that Casey was flying back and forth between his home in Colorado and the Patagonia home office in Ventura, CA. There was something I wanted to ask him.
“How did he do it?” Not how did he lead the amazing company, I was interested in something much more basic. Most leaders in the Conscious Capitalism movement seem to have a solid routine to keep the body, mind, and spirit healthy and Sheahan was no different. How did he keep up his daily routine of meditation with all of his travel?
After a brief introduction I asked him, “Are you still flying back and forth every week?” Yes. “And you are still able to keep up your morning meditation routine?” Yes. “How do you do it? When I’m traveling a lot I find it hard to keep it going.”
He grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said, “You just have to do it. You don’t miss it. You have to do it!” (He is a very inspiring man!) I asked someone to snap this pic, which I keep on my desk. If Casey Sheahan, President and CEO of Patagonia can make time to meditate in the morning, and if he can choose to live from Love and not Fear, surely I can do both, too.