To my readers:  I have had the privilege of participating in several “Tribal Gatherings” at InterfaceFlor in LaGrange, Georgia.  These gatherings are led by Amy Lukken, who introduces herself as a “Joyologist.”  Dayna Baumeister teaches them Biomimicry, learning how nature creates.  The audience is made up of leaders in the various segments served by Interface.  They come from far and wide and are talented folks in many fields.  Architects, designers, technical people are some of our guests.  They come not really knowing what the gathering is all about.  Some have described it as a “think tank” and it is that but it also becomes much, much more.  The recent one was held February 8-10, 2011 with focus on the people who are involved in multiple family housing.  My part in the meeting is to introduce them to our Strengths-Based Culture.  The following is what I say at the beginning:


“You have come here to be in community.Tribes were also formed into communities.These three days away from your regular, normal life are dedicated to creating something for the future that wants to emerge.You will be a part of a community of people who have talents, skills, and knowledge.Individually, you hold great promise; collectively you can change the world.You can become a culture of collaborative creatives.The C words, Community, Collaboration, Creativity, Circles, Change, Curiosity—form the structure for this brief experiment in social sustainability that will mark this moment out of time.

Picture in your mind a clock.I use this as a metaphor—your clock of awareness.Beliefs at 12:00; Thoughts at 3:00; Feelings at 6:00; and Behavior at 9:00.Beliefs are what you are certain of.If I am certain that the earth is flat, then my thoughts will be fearful of the edge beyond the horizon.My feelings of fear will be followed by behavior that says, unless I am Christopher Columbus, I cannot go to the edge without falling off.When we are absolutely certain, we will limit our flights of fantasy and our creativity will be held within tried and true belief structures.If we are in awareness and willing to be courageous enough to test our beliefs, then we will expand into the unknown, testing the limits and following imagination out to the edges and beyond.

So, our beliefs are what we are certain of.Our thoughts are just the flow of ideas, words, chatter in our minds; feelings are our energy in motion and behavior is the words we speak, the tone of voice we use, our facial expressions, body postures, gestures, and movements.

There is both good news and bad news in this concept:You and you alone own your clock of awareness.You cannot own it for someone else and when you allow them to be in charge of your thoughts-feelings-behavior, then we have “co-dependence.”Little creativity is possible in such neurotic relationships.

And, we are here to use our talents in the interest of creativity—new ideas—new possibilities—new structures.Outside the box, pushing the limits, stretching beyond the edges is the invitation.That means you will probably need to feel safe with each other, feel free enough to express your thoughts and feelings, and able to collaborate to greater and higher possibilities.We are moving beyond previous limits.

I believe we evolve each generation.My generation, the “Veterans”, evolved our forebears who were from the roaring twenties.Believe me, they talked about my generation with the same skepticism that we now hear about the “Millenials.”What if the Millenials are actually evolving the Generation-X folks; what if the Gen-Xers are evolving the baby boomers and what if the boomers are evolving the Veterans?Maybe we can be more optimistic if we recognize that we stand on the shoulders of what has gone before and the big C is CHANGE?

I am reminded of Ilia Prigogene who won the Nobel Prize for his theory of dissipative structures.He said as old structure die away, new ones form, transcending the old ones.Transformation brings something better.Also, when you hear Dayna explain the perspective of Biomimicry, I feel sure you will see possibilities for this future we keep talking about—it wants to emerge!And we can help.

Two things from Albert Einstein:First, he spoke often of the power of imagination, so we invite your imagination to flourish here these hours we are together.Second, is Einstein’s “Circle of Known.”This genius man implied in his teachings (which often bordered on spiritual ideas)  that if all we know could be contained within a circle, then our interface with the unknown would be equal to the circumference of the circle.As we know more, the circumference increases.Therefore, the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.I am encouraged that the more I age and the more I learn, the more I realize I really know very little!To stretch beyond the known requires the C of CURIOSITY.Curiosity and Creativity go together.They are ingredients in our two day quest.The more curious you are with open minds, open hearts, and open wills, the more likely your creativity will flow.

How then do we collaborate and create this future that wants to emerge?How do we stretch to the edges and beyond?How can we come together with inspiration and imagination?  What if all of us knew what our Strengths mean and began to work in alignment with those Strengths?  What if we had relationships that recognized us when we were productive, setting expectations that are in accord with this future that wants to emerge.  How do we stimulate, inspire, and collaborate toward something unknown that will be good for our future?

Start by recognizing your own talents and then by recognizing the talents of others. Your talents are the patterns of thoughts-feelings-behaviors that were formed by the time you were in your mid-teens.You have added skills and knowledge to them.And, you can still grow these themes.The top five on your name tag represent the gifts that you bring to this community.

Eventually you will have smaller hunter-gatherer groups, forming your core Circle.In those Circles, you can use and acknowledge each others’ Strengths, forming relationships that will create a new identity for the collective—your team.Circles work best when there is a leader in every chair.Your individual leadership shows up as communion through conversation, inviting all the minds to participate.You will come together, with attentive listening as the means of building toward a combined, wholistic effort.You can become more than the sum of individual parts.A circle of people with talent, a stated purpose, and willingness to contribute creative ideas, coming together for a reason—a purpose—a goal, can make history—notable and useful history—spiraling toward the good–for life on this Planet.Through your dialogue, you will express yourselves and who knows what will come forth?

Claiming your genius, accepting your original vision, and noticing your incredible determination is really all you have to do.Then, circle up, invite your creativity to “show up” and let the collaboration begin. Any resistance, contrast, or obstruction is an invitation to expand the dialogue.Expansion is the way.Diversity provides more strength.

A concept we follow here, in the Strengths Based Culture we are co-creating, is the “dipper and the bucket” theory of Don Clifton who authored the Clifton StrengthsFinder, from which you received your top five themes.You have an invisible container, a bucket, in which is stored your positive emotion.Every one of us also has a dipper.Our perception—untrue—our myth is that we can dip from someone else’s bucket and fill our own.The bottom line truth is that that only way we fill our bucket is to fill other buckets as well as our own.This invisible bucket inside each one of us is the prime source of creative energy.Rarely can we collaborate, create, or become a community with negative emotion.Blame, judgment, faultfinding, criticism, actually put a damper on creativity.So, shine your light (your awareness—your attention) on what is right; help prevent bucket dipping; give recognition unexpectedly; open your mind, your heart, and your will; making some new best friends in the process.There will emerge this unknown future that wants to come forth.A Future that wants to emerge will not be a negative future.Your focus on the industry you serve will help build a sustainable future. Your ROI will elevate.Your own individual radiance, unique only to you, will be visible through enthusiasm, energy, and creative action. We invite you to Show Up, Listen Up, Open Up, Grow Up, Lighten Up (this will be fun), Wise Up, Link Up, and Offer Up.


You are more than you pretend to be.

You are more than eyes can see.

You are more than all your history.

Look around and you will find, there’s creativity in you mind!

We will be the possibilities we can be.

You are more than what your parents bred,

You are more than what your teachers said,

You are more than what’s inside your head.

You are more than cell and blood and bones

You are more than just your name alone

You are more than all that you may own

You are more than some statistic chart

You are more than the sum of all your parts

This person that is you has miracles to do




With every breath you take

The creative spirit in you will ache


(say with me)…..We are more than we pretend to be

We are more than what most eyes can see

We will be the creative Community we can be!

Stand up.Choose a partner and face each other:

Say simultaneously, with gestures to match the words:

“You are a genius……..I am a genius”

You have original vision…..I have original vision

You have incredible determination…..I have incredible determination”

These are the concepts for making these next days a real fun time.Nature creates by playfully mucking about and you are here to have that kind of fun.We begin by getting to know each other through a circle game we play called, “Who’s Here?”  (I learned this from Don Clifton, also.)

Groups of five with five things to talk about:Each of you will have app. two minutes to tell these five things:1) The name you like to be called; 2) one turning point in your life; 3)one past success; 4)one future plan; and 5) your hot button—what motivates you and gets you into your best creativity.