Industry Magazine Get JACK'D Magazine Spring 2017 | Page 21

us are trained to focus on the tangible: strategy, science, profit, product quality. Of late, subjects such as vision and values—especially at Zingerman’s— have also become high priorities. So too, appropriately, has organizational purpose. We like long-term planning, LEAN management, and low-cost change initiatives. All are interesting and all are important. But if you haven’t already picked up on my theme, it’s worth recognizing that particular beliefs underlie them all. I’ve come to the conclusion that belief needs to be an area of focus unto itself. All too often, we aren’t cognizant of what we believe. Our beliefs will be at work regardless, but unless we pay attention, they remain a mystery to us and we lose the magic. I believe that reflection, understanding, and increased consciousness can change all that. I believe that if we raise awareness of the role beliefs play in our lives, we can make a whole lot of good things happen for ourselves and for everyone around us. It has certainly worked well for me. Thinking agriculturally (as I want to do, given our work with food), I’ve come to see that beliefs are basically the root systems of our organizations. What shows up above the surface, in “real life,” is a reflection of what’s already been going on below ground. As anarchist Alexander Berkman writes, “You can’t grow a rose from a cactus seed.” This statement is so obvious that it seems almost silly to say it aloud. Unfortunately, many of us try to do exactly what Berkman poetically points out won’t work. Our beliefs are, all too often, out of alignment with what we’re trying to attain. Yet we’re still surprised each time the “wrong” plant sprouts from the soil. We get SPRING 2017 angry, frustrated, and depressed. We feel defeated. In response, many of us go out to cut the offender off at the root line. But you know what happens then, right? The same darned plant soon pops up again. The real work isn’t to cut out bad behavior; it’s to change the beliefs that put it in motion, to set a different root system in the soil. If we want to grow roses, we’d best begin by getting rosebushes in the ground. Positive beliefs tend to yield more positive outcomes; negative beliefs, more negative results; neutral beliefs don’t really do either. Until we are aware of what our beliefs are, and of the fact that we can consciously choose the beliefs we need in order to get to the outcomes we aspire to attain, we will continue to struggle in our lives both personally and professionally. Carl Jung warns us accordingly: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” The point of this piece is to move us from unconsciousness to consc iousness in the management of our beliefs. Because it’s only from a place of conscious attention that we can learn more about what our beliefs actually are or about how to choose and manage them appropriately and effectively. Whether we acknowledge it or not, our beliefs are calling our shots. Our beliefs lead us to take certain actions, which inform the beliefs of others, which lead them to almost always act in ways that reinforce our original beliefs. It’s what Claude Bristol wrote over half a century ago in The Magic of Believing: “Every person is the creation of himself [or herself], the image of his [or her] own thinking and believing. As individuals think and believe, so they are.” ABOUT ARI WEINZWEIG ARI WEINZWEIG is the co-founding partner of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Starting in 1982 with 2 employees and a 1300-square foot deli Ari and his partner Paul Saginaw have grown the organization to include 10 businesses including a bakery, a creamery, a mail order business and more; a staff of over 700; and annual sales of over $60,000,000. The article below is adapted from Ari’s new book, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business. You can see more about Ari’s books and ZingTrain at, and you can learn more about bringing a taste of Zingerman’s to your front door by visiting 21