These are short articles I wrote for the InterfaceFlor publication,
“News You Can Use”, in 2006:

“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are not coming from your Strengths.
Fear shows up in negative emotions. Negative emotions are like internal pollution. They can harm the whole organism, just as pollution harms our planet. So, be not afraid!”

Social Sustainability

By Marjorie R. Barlow, Ph.D.,
Gallup Strengths Coach

Thought for the day:
“You don’t find the light by
analyzing the darkness.”

Ray Anderson suggests that
each one of us can
“Brighten the corner where we are.”

Today’s thought will help with that
expression. When you focus on the
bad stuff, you strengthen it. When
you focus on the positive goal of what
you do want, you strengthen that.

Whatever you focus on becomes
your reality.

So, shine a light on what is right!


Words, tone of voice, facial expression, and body movements are the way we communicate with one another.
Just as ships leave a wake behind them, we leave an emotional wake behind us. Our friends and co-workers tell our story, not always as we want it to be but often, according to the negative emotional wake we have left behind us. Do you ever wonder what they say about you when you are not in the room? A simple rule of thumb for keeping ourselves happy is to ask, “What do I want them to remember when I am gone”? Then, take great pains to say that, and only that.


The sixth front of the climb up Mount Sustainability is called the “Sensitivity Hookup”. In Ray Anderson’s vision, this sixth front is all about the thousands of things people can do to get engaged in stewardship to our planet. Shelburne Farms in Vermont is a good illustration of what can be accomplished through such sensitivity and awareness over a long period of time. This beautiful place is a nonprofit environmental education center on the shores of Lake Champlain. You can get a taste of what they do by going to the internet (

Like Interface, Shelburn Farms is demonstrating environmental responsibility. The sixth front of social responsibility means we are not alone, we are persons in community, which includes all of life.
The Interface goal of zero footprint by the year 2020 represents the peak of Mount Sustainability. Shelburne Farms is an example of others in our world community, who are headed in the same direction. We can learn from them. And, maybe they can learn from us. Positive relationships with like minded people can climb (or move) mountains.

Does Age Matter?


Are you a Traditionalist, a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, or a Millennial?
Some new research says there is a big difference between these four generational groups. If you were born before 1945, you are a Traditionalist. You are stable, detail oriented, thorough, loyal, hard working, and you live by the rules.

If you were born between 1945 and 1964, you are a Baby Boomer. Boomers are service oriented, driven, willing to “go the extra mile”, and team oriented. There are 80 million Baby Boomers in the U.S.

Generations Xers, born between 1965 and 1979 are adaptable, techno-literate, independent, un-intimidated by authority, and creative. There are about 46 million Gen Xers in the U.S.

The Millennials, born between 1980 and 1999 number 76 million in the U.S. They are optimistic, tenacious, multi-taskers, capable, technologically savvy, and heroic spirited.

Each of the four groups needs to be managed differently. More about that next time….

Let me know what you think. I am interested in your opinion.

Social Sustainability

You are at your best when you are doing what you naturally do best.

Have you taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder yet? The StrengthsFinder (all one word with no space—just like InterfaceFLOR) is an easy way to discover your talents. As you discover your talents and add skills and knowledge, you will be developing your own unique Strengths. I believe this will help you find your calling, or your purpose in life. Everyone has a calling. You just need to discover what it is. Awareness of your Strengths is a good way to start. Doing what you naturally do best is a sure sign you have found your calling.



Genuine happiness radiates outward spontaneously as joy. Is happiness the most important life skill? Can we learn to be happy? When our internal, invisible “bucket” is full of positive emotion, when our work allows us as individuals to do what we do best, then we may experience happiness. This may involve delight or pleasure, but it is more than that. Happy, joyful people live real lives of authenticity and they meet frustrations with an underlying theme of positive emotions. What we give, we really do receive. Try an experiment: Tomorrow, stop complaining, finding fault, criticizing, or gossiping in negative ways. At the end of the day, take a reading on your happiness level. Let me know what you find!

Books on Happiness:
“Happiness: A History” by Darrin McMahan
“The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathon Haidt
“The Art of Happiness” by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
“Happiness: Life’s Most Important Skill” by Matthieu Ricard


Mentoring is about friendship-partnerships, mutually agreed upon by both people. These mentor-mentee partnerships enhance the self-worth of both through the sharing of ideas, support and successes. 

 The mentor-partner friendship is at the core of building a connection to an environment of trust and acceptance of new challenges. A good mentor is a combination of friend, teacher, coach and counselor. There is a wisdom and individualization offered, based on experience and discernment refined in the crucible of the mentor’s life process. Effective mentoring is honest, open, real, and trust-filled. It is the core of a depth relationship.

Mentoring is sometimes informal. Informal mentoring happens when someone can provide needed information, helpful skills, and encouragement. Formal mentoring programs sometimes fail because they are designed and prescribed, which loses the energy of engagement. A mentoring contract requires the highest level of authenticity.

Mentoring between women is natural. Sharing recipes, mid-wifing babies, quilting circles, and all the home business training skills were part of a network of helpful women who cooperated with each other, sometimes in times of dire peril. Women helping women is becoming a practice in business today. Gail Evans books, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman and She Wins You Win are good resources for women who want to mentor other women.

About women and leadership:
I am writing a new book, with a working title, “The Possible Woman Gets Engaged”.
Women now constitute more than one half the United States workforce. Less than 15% of those women are in senior management. We may have reached a tipping point in which women are ready to rise to the call of adventure into leadership. There are talented women who are ready to serve as visionary leaders, as managers who develop people, and as individuals who are living their Strengths. The good news is that the male gender of our species no longer has to carry the whole load. The release of women to join the human race is also a release for males from the 24/7 responsibilities for everything. Shared responsibility emerges because females naturally make decisions through collaboration with projects completed through cooperation.

It is natural for women to become servant leaders, for their story is one of service. To any one woman hearing her call to leadership, I would say that the first thing is to know yourself and what you do best. Taking ownership of your own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behavior is necessary. It helps to get clear about what your mission is and who can help you as well as who you will be helping. Then comes the risk of “putting yourself out there”. Like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, women are poised and ready to take the next step.


Interface Women In Network, IWIN, is a program begun at Interface by Joyce LaValle. Periodic meetings give women a chance to meet each other for conversation and to listen to motivational speeches.

I have been privileged to speak at two of these meetings and found the women wanted more time to be with each other. They appreciated the circles of interest and the chance to meet their fellow co-workers in a social setting.

The subject of women and leadership comes to some of those conversations. I am reminded of an interesting workshop we participated in recently. Maybe you have heard of Arthur Gillman and his concept of taking a reading of the population by an interesting yet mysterious process that he calls the “Breeder Net”?

Gillman has led several groups at Interface in this activity. He volunteered to do another on one of his visits to Atlanta. He offered to guide a group of women through the steps of the Breeder Net, with the subject of The Possible Woman:

What we found was interesting.
Women have four gates from the past. They are 1) Burden (the care of family members), 2) Domesticity (responsibility for household management), 3) Decay (fear of aging), and 4) Networking (a web of friends and family support). All save one of these is negative. The way forward to the desired outcome is through Networking. The desired outcome is simply that women want to be in the world with the encouragement to pursue individual uniqueness and significance.

These findings were interesting and might be proven to be true some day in the world of women aspiring to leadership possibilities.


On Keeping Your Body Healthy

Marj’s M’s of Health:

Mouth –whatever you eat, drink, take, smoke, or say
Movement—move it or lose it, applied to body, mind, and spirit
Mentors—someone in your life who has more experience than you
Mission—a sense of purpose in life
Mirth—“A merry heart worketh good, like medicine”
Music—Relieve your stress by changing your music.
Meditation—Mind-taming, quieting the chatter in your head

Each of these M’s have something to do with physical well-being. All seven are required if you are to be in the prime of health. They require discipline and will usually bring up fierce resistance.
If you don’t see the connection to health with each of the seven M’s, call me! Let’s talk.


I have now become certified to lead How Full Is Your Bucket? workshops.  The book by that name, authored by Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath, is worth having.  You will find it useful for family relationships, marriage, as well as in your job at Interface.  Here is a brief summary:

Everyone has an invisible bucket.
That bucket holds all our positive emotions.
When our buckets are overflowing, we are happy, healthy, and enthusiastic about life and living. We are more engaged in our work and our relationships are better. All of us are at our best when our buckets are overflowing—and at our worst when they are empty.

Everyone also has an invisible dipper. In each interaction, we can use our dippers either to fill or to dip from others’ buckets.
Complaining, criticizing, fault-finding, and negative gossip are forms of bucket dipping.
When people’s buckets are empty, they get defensive, they may attack back, they may want to run away, they often look for “greener pastures”; they can drive customers away; and research shows, they are more likely to get sick!

The mystery of the dipper and the bucket is that when you fill another person’s bucket, yours also fills up. And, conversely, when you dip from someone’s bucket, your own bucket will be diminished.

Happiness is a side effect of filling other people’s buckets. Try it! You might like it!

Five Strategies for Increasing Positive Emotions:

I. Help Prevent Bucket Dipping

Every interaction counts! Do everything you can to make each interaction a bucket filling—rather than a bucket dipping—interaction.

II. Shine a Light on What is Right
You are a person who is different, unique, and significant. Your talents become strengths when you learn new skills and gain more knowledge. As you decide where to focus in the future, remember that you are more likely to see improvement in the items where you are already strong.

III. Make Best Friends
Showing interest in and appreciation for another human being is a natural bucket filler. Friends come in many forms. Think about the people you are working beside as your friends, rather than your enemy. The more we know about them, the more we acknowledge their strengths, and the more we understand them, the greater the positive effect of our interactions. You are giving friendship when you fill another persons’ bucket.

IV. Give Unexpectedly
Don Clifton, who co-authored the book, said, “You fill buckets one drop at a time.” You can send someone a drop for their bucket. The drop needs to be something specific, individually acknowledged, and deserved.

V. Reverse the Golden Rule
In the case of bucket filling, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t apply. Instead, we suggest a slight variation: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” This means you would need to get to know that person.

When someone is full of negativity, complaining, whining and blaming, you can be sure her/his bucket is empty. The best way to keep them from dipping out of your bucket is to do reflective listening. You can reflect their words, not absorb them.
Give to Get:
We human beings need three things to thrive, not just survive.
They are 1) someone who will listen, hearing accurately; 2) to be seen through fresh, soft eyes; and 3) to have someone “hold the field” while we find our way. If we give these things to others, we stand a better chance of receiving them from others.

The Positive Approach
Knowing your Strengths and responding from them makes it easier to be aware of the Strengths of others and respond to them. Any action to which you pay attention, will likely get repeated. Therefore, if you pay attention to weaknesses, you strengthen them in both yourself and the other person. This is the law of learning theory.

Negativity on the inside is like pollution on the outside.



“Your life is your story. Is it a drama, a tragedy, a comedy, or a soap opera? You can choose to be the Author, the Actor, and the Audience of your own unique life story, from birth to death. I invite you to wake up–take charge, join the AAA, and live your life, center stage, as the star of your happy story.”



My subject today is SAD TREES. I met a very nice young man last week. He drives a truck, making long hauls across the country, and he has a keen interest in the environment. He told me that he thinks the trees are sad. I asked him why he thought that trees could be sad. He said, “The trees do a big service for us. When we cut them down, the ones that are left are having to do all the work for the trees that have been sacrificed”.

Trees are good friends. They help with cleaning the environment. With increasingly frequent cases of asthma, especially in children, the benefits trees provide in cleaning the air should not be underestimated. The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, absorbing harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Trees have also been shown to be very effective at trapping fine dusts and toxic particles. My trucker-driver friend asked me if I thought we were making progress as human beings. I am trying to think of an answer for him. As I look at the remaining trees in my city, I imagine they are sad, too.



Acceptance, Enjoyment, or Enthusiasm are three choices we can make to anything that comes our way. I had a flat tire on a busy freeway last week. I chose “Acceptance” since I really couldn’t enjoy it and I definitely was not enthusiastic about it. So, after accepting the fact, I did the next thing I could do, which was to call AAA. They came and I was calm, cool, and collected. Within minutes I was on my way, without any negative stress reaction. Think about cultivating a new habit where all your reactions become either Acceptance, Enjoyment, or Enthusiasm. New habits are the pathway to good health and peace of mind.


Social Sustainability

In Ray Anderson’s book, Mid Course Correction, he speaks of financial capital, environmental capital, and social capital. How do we define these three ideas? Are they about money (Profit), the Earth (Place), and our relationships (People)? I have been listening to different people explain to me what Social Sustainability really means. I will welcome your definition, too.


We humans meet the present with interpretations of the past.


The meaning of the present allows us to leave our past and see NOW in its own right—a new day—a new birth—a new beginning.

Experience will become your past, which builds your foundation for a new NOW and your future. This is wisdom.

So, we can choose to live NOW, learning from the past, and planning for the future. Dream big. Your future NOWS will be to the limit of what you imagine today.

Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? Three vital questions. You are the one with the answers.


Someone asked me last week, “What do I do now that I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder and I know my five top strengths?” My answer was, first, you will need to learn what each of these strengths mean. They are called signature themes and they show up in your life on a daily basis. So, when you know what they look like, you can catch yourself when you are using them. For instance, my friend has the theme of “Arranger” and when he realized that the previous week he had arranged several events, meetings, and discussions, he accepted that Arranger was a natural habit for him. These strengths will feel right because they are part of who you really are. The good news is that they are there to be developed and used. That’s where Strengths Coaching comes in. I will tell you more about Strengths Coaching in a later NYCU.



There is an old Native American phrase that says that we do not inherit the earth from our parents. Rather, we borrow it from our children. Individual human beings are our greatest resource and we must develop that resource to its maximum possibility. Protecting the environmental habitat of that most valuable resource is logical and therefore becomes imperative.


TIME: Past-Present-Future

Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? Three vital questions regarding the dimension called time. You are the one with the answers.

It’s all about time and how we look at it. The truth is, NOW is all we have. The past is over; the future is not here; we live in the “now” moment. If you tend to be a depressed person, you can always look backward to what might have been and feel bad about it. If you tend to be an anxious person, you can always look ahead to what might happen and worry about it. If you want to be happy, you must learn to live in this present moment—NOW.

I have heard that “The past is history; the future a mystery; and the NOW is a gift–that is why it is called the present.”   A good book is PRESENCE by Peter Senge and others.