In honor of turning the big #40, I wanted to impart some wisdom to you that I more humbly understand today about chasing down a juicy pie in the sky vision. As you may have observed, your momma’s one of the ‘crazy dreamers’ as Steve Jobs so aptly quipped. I shoot for the stars almost every day and dream vividly about the future and ways that I can have the greatest impact on our world. But man do I get tripped up on the wrong path some days, or one too many bright, shiny objects—so I wanted to pull together some of the most tried and true rules I try to stick by on some of my better days:
Make no mistake about it; we are truly a team in training at Casa de Kelleys. I could not spread my wings so wide if it were not for the support of your dad and my husband, Tom. Every venture into a new terrain occurs because of the terra firma at our home base. This is the most important lesson about chasing down a dream—never losing sight of my most important responsibility–nurturing and cultivating love (sometimes tough love), accountability and support to those whom I ‘come home to’-the three of you.
Listen First, Ask Second
The best answers are your own answers. Take time to tune out (everything else) and tune in (to your own voice, thoughts and radical ideas). This happens for me when I am out running or working out by myself—but for you it could be something very different. Write down your thoughts and then share them with people you admire, respect or love. Listen to their feedback. They usually know you second best and the combination of this information can lead to some magical moments. Trust me.
Be an Experience Taker
Nothing thoughtfully ventured, nothing meaningfully gained. If something piques your interest consistently over time—dabble in it, read up about it, and ask around. But whatever you do, don’t drown out your heart songs.
Stick to the Rule of 3’s
When in doubt, always stick to the golden rule of 3—everywhere. Remain open but don’t overwhelm yourself on any kind of experimental or commitment end. Think about the beginning, middle and end of everything: Point 1,2,3. Be clear about the parameters that you commit to others in regards to your energy, attention, resources. When in doubt, under commit until you are clear on the ROI.
Pursue Niche Excellence
Once you decide to dive into something deeper (congratulations!)—set the bar high and measure yourself (gently) around those who are ‘best in class’ (remember: slow and steady wins the race). Don’t sweat the timing of it all but rather the richness and the quality of your work along the way. Work to identify which aspect of your work you are most excited about and have the most to offer. Commit yourself to further raising the bar in your corner of the world.
Surround Yourself with Stars
Read Miguel Angel Ruiz book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (it’s in my office library waiting for you). Pay attention to the feelings you have after spending time with friends and colleagues. Align yourself with those who lift you up, make your belly laugh, delight you, push you to do better, etc. And the rest, well, be kind but don’t spend more time there than is needed.
Cultivate Your Voice + Use It!
I struggled to find my own voice up until six years ago when I started my business. We all have our own journey—so don’t get bogged down by comparing yourself to others. Start by tuning into situations and audiences where you feel more bold and comfortable to speak up and assert yourself and practice there. Your voice will always be your most valuable tool. Treat it accordingly.
Failing is Mandatory
When I look back on some of the darker, bewildering, unsuccessful moments of my life/career—I am certain that those were the moments where my character expanded. How you respond to not reaching your goals, to being told ‘no’, to being lonely (very, very lonely—especially in your 20’s) are the most important moments for you to maintain perspective, re-evaluate your plans and adapt. Reach out for extra support and bolster your mental toughness—you will persevere and you will come out on the other end stronger, more inspired and grateful that you were pre-‘failure’. I promise, sweethearts.
Hustle (No one can take that away from you my darlings)
You have New York City in your blood (Grandma Joanie’s Brooklyn roots + your parents 7 year stints in the city)—so we expect you to carry this torch with pride on the West Coast (or wherever you will go). Yes, work smart not ‘hard’—but never, ever underestimate the power of hustling for what you want in life. And hang out with other hustlers (those with a moral compass that aligns with yours, of course).
Maintain an Open Mind + an Open Heart
No matter what you pursue or how you choose to structure your life (after college, that is)—strive to maintain an open mind and heart throughout your life. You have been born into a family, a socioeconomic status and a country that already offers you enormous privilege as you move through the world. You have an obligation to give back to the world, particularly to those who have not been afforded the same opportunities or experiences. Work for justice, for greater understanding and for love wherever you may roam.
All my love,