Best known as Gossip Girl matriarch Lily van der Woodsen, Kelly Rutherford also shines as an inspiring thought leader perfect for this unusual time. The epitome of a “lifter upper,” Kelly’s beautiful words and wisdom inspire people worldwide to thrive with gratitude and lead without limit.
Gleaned from her own often public struggles, Kelly’s down-to-Earth advice can guide business leaders, entrepreneurs, and those simply looking for inner-growth towards a future filled with possibilities.
Recently, Kelly and I chatted about life, love, success, struggles, and what it takes to become a positive leader, even when times are tough. Here are some of her most poignant lessons on thriving in an uncertain world.
Focus On Your Limitless Future
Our past victories and mistakes shape much of our current selves. Still, Kelly warns us to be cautious about dwelling on what has already happened. Instead, focus your energy on the present and how today’s actions can positively impact tomorrow.
“I’ve always had this feeling that we’re either taking from the past or pulling from the future,” says Kelly. “Think about where your thoughts and ideas come from. Fears from past struggles? Hopes for tomorrow? Everything here—today—comes from an old thought or creation.”
Of course, there is value in reflection. But do consider whether this contemplation is genuinely healthy or just holding you back. During her struggles, Kelly began intentionally living in the present moment while envisioning her ideal future. With this practice, she could better grasp the actions necessary to create the life she dreamt of.
“Think about what you want, what you love, and what you want your future to look like,” Kelly says. “There are unlimited resources beyond all comprehension of what we can create now versus what’s behind us.”
Finding the Positives in Tough Situations
Everything has pros and cons, yet we often obsess over the cons. Humans are programmed to laser focus on the less-than-ideal aspects of a career, company, or person. Instead, Kelly suggests shifting our energy away from the negatives and towards what we do like. It’s a small change in perspective that can change everything.
“We have to find what makes us happy,” Kelly says. “Spend more time focused on what you do enjoy. On qualities of the person that we do like. We can choose to look for those things in a situation.” There is always something positive about everything and everyone. Stop giving away precious time and mental space on whatever brings you down. Instead, put a spotlight on what you love.
A similar mentality also applies to life choices. Again, we hyperfocus on the difficulties so intently that we can overlook a fantastic opportunity. “You keep knocking on the door that’s locked when there is one right here that’s open,” Kelly says. “They both go to the same place!” Don’t let that preconceived path allow you to ignore the better option that’s been there all along.
Staying Healthy During Hard Times
Despite living through painful moments under the Hollywood media’s scrutiny, Kelly emerged as a remarkable example of finding the good within everything. With an innate desire to support others, Kelly’s been open about the mindset she developed to push past these experiences and grow stronger than ever.
“I have always been pretty optimistic as a person,” Kelly says. “At first, I led with that. But then I realized that it wouldn’t be enough.” Leaning into the unpredictability of life, she tried new coping techniques like meditation, journaling, and exercise while also making inevitable mistakes and missteps along the way. “You fumble through it, and insights come out of that,” she says. “There is lots of intel you’re taking in.”
She continually asked herself, “How can I heal my body, my mind, and my spirit so that I can be an effective human being and serve through this and after this? Otherwise, there is no upside.” Kelly didn’t want to persevere just for her own sake. She wanted to show others that through resilience, they too could thrive after hardships. “The only upside is when you survive things, walk away, and give back.”
Show Up Everyday with Awareness
Whether it’s leading a Fortune 500 company, a critically-acclaimed TV show, or a busy household, we’re all leaders. We’re also all human. It can be tough to always show up at our best.
As a mother and a hard-working actress, Kelly understands this challenge firsthand. She’s also quick to admit that she doesn’t always succeed—and that’s okay! Still, she’s discovered that simply feeling aligned and connected with yourself is a great first step.
Feeling aligned is about intentionally doing things that make you feel wholly connected with yourself. If you’re not, figure out a healthy way to proactively get there. It could mean taking regular walks through nature, practicing mindfulness, connecting with friends and family, writing in a journal, or cooking your favorite recipes.
For Kelly, finding alignment often includes meditation, yoga, and writing gratitude lists. She also admits that routines aren’t her biggest strength, so she finds convenient times during the day to fit in these moments. “I’m here now, and this is what I’m creating,” she’ll tell herself.
Don’t Forget Your Gratefuls!
“Gratitude and appreciation are everything,” says Kelly. “If all else fails, go into that space. Everything else is a distraction.” By pinpointing what you’re grateful for, you give power to what matters and take power from whatever doesn’t deserve your energy.
“Just try it for a day,” she dares. For 24 hours, see what life feels like without complaining, finding the negatives, or judging yourself or others. Instead, only focus on the positives. What ARE you thankful for? How ARE people showing up, and what IS working in your life right now?
“To be in that space all of the time is ideal,” she says. “It takes practice, and I’ve been working on it myself.” After all, we have been viewing the world through a particular lens for our entire lives. “It’s comfortable,” says Kelly. Real change takes time, but it’s worth it. “I know how radiant my life has become. I’m more radiant. I have more to give. I feel so much better.”
And she wants nothing more than for everyone else to feel that same radiance every single day. So, what are you grateful for?
The conversation with Kelly Rutherford continues on the Leading with Genuine Care podcast where you’ll hear even more of her tips and insights on creating a mindful, positive life. You can also watch my chat with Kelly on YouTube.
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