My dad read multiple newspapers every day. We found it entertaining. He found it essential. While the stories were the same, the perspectives were not.
In 1978 John Mackey co-founded Whole Foods Market. But it wasn’t until 2003 when he explored the viewpoint of animal rights activists.
They were picketing, unhappy about the treatment of a particular duck being sold at his stores. Mackey approached one of them. She said, “You are an ideal person, but when it comes to livestock animals, you are not well-informed.”
He listened, thinking, “She might be right. I probably don’t know.”
Mackey took action:
- That summer he educated himself, reading a dozen books about how we raise animals in America. And in his words, “I was utterly horrified. I had been living in denial.”
- He invited animal rights activists to create an ongoing dialogue with his team.
- He changed how Whole Foods acquires and sells meat.
This led to Whole Foods sponsoring the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a non-profit promoting the welfare of farmed animals using rating standards.
Today at every Whole Foods Market, products at the meat counter are displayed with GAP ratings. (And Mackey became a vegan.)
As human beings, we like to listen to people who agree with us. It’s called confirmation bias and it refers to our tendency to proactively seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs.
What can we do to combat our own confirmation bias like John Mackey?
- Launch focus groups
- Create think tanks
- Invite contrarians
- Embrace diversity
- Encourage dialogue
- Mentor and be mentored
- Turn the channel
- Read differently
- Take new adventures
- Suspend judgment
- Be curious
When we intentionally seek out perspectives, ideas, and advice from people who don’t think like us, our growth is inevitable.