Now is the Time

December 10th, 2009

Strong, progressive leadership is needed more than ever and I’m calling out to each of you. It is time to take stands, to support each other in risking and trying out new ideas. The world cannot wait much longer for new and innovative leadership and it must come from within. Within our communities, our cities, our families and ourselves.

Shortly, we will round into 2010 and leave the ‘0s behind. This is a good time to consider what we intend for the coming decade – what we are committed to creating and fostering. What are you, personally, working toward?

For the moment, let’s assume that collectively we’ve done sufficient research, navel gazing, polling, retreating and now it is time to move. Really move our movements, strategies and intentions. And it is time to move, not incrementally, but exponentially – the world and its various communities - animal, vegetal and microbial are counting on us humans to do our part in creating a new balance and living harmoniously with everything else on our dear planet. It’s time.

So how do we do this without a sense of urgency or panic? How do we move with deliberate and elegant swiftness?

First, show up and get very clear about your purpose. Be clear about what you’ll do, and equally importantly, what you won’t do. I’ve seen too many organizations get distracted by chasing money that is not in alignment with their core business, until they find themselves adrift without a clear sense of what they’re about. There are plenty of terrific organizations out there – link up, so that we’re connected and not replicating each other’s work or competing for finite resources.

Develop a strong and compelling vision – engage folks’ hearts and minds. Get behind other people’s visions – ensure that they succeed. We all must rise together - none of us can do this alone. Offer a hand, ask for help.

Find and foster new partnerships – find some strange bedfellows. Consort with unlikely suspects. Growth and diversity flourish at the edges of systems where unusual ideas bump up against each other. Get your edge on and sidle up to someone new.

Retain a sense of optimism. Refuse to stoop to cynicism. Despair is not sustaining or compelling – if you must visit despair, pack lightly and travel swiftly. It is not a place to build an institution or a movement.

Feed someone who’s hungry. I suppose I should be making an end-of-year appeal on behalf of Rockwood, so, sure, make a donation to help other leaders learn and practice transformational leadership and collaboration. More importantly, right now, make sure that the families in your neighborhood have a home and something in their bellies. Put some canned goods in the bins at the store. Take some blankets to the women’s shelter down the street. Generosity is key in this new world we’re creating. Let’s spread our wealth.

Finally, remember your own magnificence. Stop and smell your own roses. The work you do is essential, so don’t forget yourself when you count your blessings.

Please know that I count you, our alumnae/i and supporters, among my personal and Rockwood’s organizational blessings. As we journey into the next decade, I’m so grateful to be traveling with you all.


December 2009

PS: In the spirit of this newsletter and to honor International Human Rights Day, I’m proud to announce that Rockwood has received funding from the Proteus Fund to support leaders working on human rights and national security policy reform - please see the announcement above.

Alumnae/i in the News

Rockwood is proud to celebrate Chellie Pingree, a graduate of Rockwood's Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship and the elected representative to Congress from Maine's first district. Her election in 2008 marked the first time a woman was elected to Congress from that district and, for the first time in American History, a state’s Congressional Delegation has been comprised with a female majority. Chellie attended Rockwood from 2006-07 in her role as Executive Director of Common Cause, a non-partisan activist group with nearly 300,000 members and 35 state chapters. Common Cause's mission is to help citizens make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

Click here to see a biographical video on Chellie as well as her battle with TV commentator, Stephen Colbert.