February 16th, 2011

Maybe it’s because it was just Valentine’s Day, or Women’s and Black History months. Maybe it’s the soft rain, or the young voices coming out of Egypt, but lately my heart has been tender. My heart is breaking open with hope, and I find myself being very glad that I’m alive and awake right now.

I admit that I’ve been on a rant lately about the lack of civil discourse -- I’ve been downright cranky about it. Today, however, I’m asking for more than civilized conversation – I’m asking for the kind of connection that is rooted in kindness and delight.

What if we all agreed to spend a month being delighted with those around us? Sure, there is much to decry, and stress is high. There’s a lot going on. It is easy to notice what is irritating, wrong and lacking in our circles. What if it were equally easy to notice the sublime and fascinating aspects of those in our kinship networks?

At Rockwood, we teach that there should be a 4:1 ratio of affirmative to corrective feedback. If we create communities and organizations of appreciation, it is much more likely that we will get what we are working toward – a world filled with justice and grace, enough for everyone, and balance with our ecosystems. Think about appreciation and gratitude as investments in our collective future - a down payment, if you will.

As a leader, when was the last time you stopped and took time to show your staff the appreciation that can help lift and support their work—and their own potential leadership? And as someone supporting leaders, when was the last time you had a moment of empathy, support and appreciation for the person or team helping to lead your organization?

I have a notion that if we spent just a fraction of the time we spend fussing and bemoaning circumstance on goodwill and delight, our organizations and communities would shift in radical ways. Imagine how you might feel if you came to work each morning and were greeted with the kind of welcome generally reserved for newborns or beloved friends. How might that influence how you spend your time, or interact with colleagues, or lead?

C’mon, let’s give it a try. There’s nothing to lose except our cynicism and despair.

So let’s reach towards joy, towards each other. Take a look around you, and pay a well-deserved compliment, send a prayer, a note of gratitude or a belated Valentine to someone who could use a lift. Perhaps it’s your cousin, an old pal or a colleague. Perhaps it’s you – go ahead – send it out. I promise it will come back to you in some magical and unexpected way.

Happy everything!

From my heart to yours.

February 2011

Deadline to Apply for the California Immigrant Rights Fellowship

Are you or do you know a compelling leader who is working for the human and civil rights of immigrant communities? Apply to the California Immigrant Rights Fellowship! To nominate a leader to the Fellowship for California Immigrant Rights Leaders, email the name, organization, contact information and a brief description of why you are nominating the leader to To request an application, contact: or call (510) 524-4000 x 104. An online application form will be sent to you by email.

The deadline for applications is Monday, February 28, 2011, 5:00 PM PST.

Accepting Nominations for Human Rights and National Security Reform Leaders Fellowship

Rockwood is now accepting nominations for the 2011-2012 Human Rights and National Security Reform (HRNSR) Leaders Fellowship. The HRNSR Fellowship is a six-month intensive leadership program designed to teach powerful visioning, listening, speaking, presentation, coaching, team building and feedback skills to leaders engaged with advocacy and organizing for progressive national security reform.

As one Fellow shared, “The training offered indescribably effective opportunities to enhance our relationships with key allies and colleagues, several of whom have already proven helpful on a range of fronts. It also offered great feedback on my own leadership, with particularly applicable tools in the realm of coaching my staff and more forcefully asserting my analysis.”

If you have questions or wish to nominate a leader to the Fellowship for Human Rights and National Security Reform, please contact us at:
(510) 524-4000 x106,

Advanced Art of Leadership: Leadership in Action NY

Looking to deepen and further cultivate the skills you learned in the Art of Leadership? We just added an Advanced Art of Leadership: Leadership in Action training in NY to our schedule of programs.

We also have a few more slots open for the March 28-31, 2011 Advanced Art of Leadership in Sonoma, CA. The extended application deadline is Thursday February 17, 2011. Apply here.

At Leadership in Action, you’ll receive an Interpersonal Leadership Style Survey, a powerful interpersonal communications tool that focuses on individual styles of behavior and the impact those styles have on producing results.  You’ll also receive advanced training in time management, conflict resolution skills, coaching and mentoring, and learn how to create and maximize teams of excellence.

When: October 2-5 2011
Where: Edith Macy Conference Center
Cost: Tuition is determined on a sliding scale.

Click here to apply to Leadership in Action.

For more information, please contact Stacy Kono at or 510-524-4000 x113.