Shonda Rhimes is a power house. Creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes gives an intimate account of how she said yes to things that scared her for one year. The book is a full account of her one year journey and is now one of my favourite books for women.
It was hard to get stuck into the book at first. I found the book a bit too ‘informal,’ ‘chatty’ and the pace felt slow. However I soldiered on, and I am so glad I did. By the second to third chapter, I realised two things:
1) She is speaking to me (the reader) as if we are girlfriends and just chatting. In the book she wants to connect on a personal level
2) The writing style in her book is reflective of how she writes her scripts. Fast paced monologues anyone?
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I was getting very excited. I could see where her main TV characters came from: Olivia Pope, Meredith Grey, Christina Yang, etc. It was as if Olivia Pope was there, permeating through the pages. It was truly magnificent to discover the inside workings of this woman’s mind.
Here are 5 key lessons from Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
Say yes to your voice, you may just inspire
The first yes that Shonda describes was saying yes to a Graduation Speech at Dartmouth, the university which she attended. Although scared out of her mind, she ends up delivering an epic speech! By the way, one of the things she told the students is that they need to get rid of the dream and start doing.
“I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing,” she said.
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Working motherhood – we don’t need to pretend we got it all together
Shonda discovered that often people are not open about the level of support they have to make this working parent thing work. She states that she has a nanny, who looks after her kids, and would not be able to what she does without her nanny.
The lesson here is that it is important for people to share their stories. Particularly, those who are ‘role models’ so that they do not create unrealistic expectations (albeit unintentionally).
Shonda takes pride in being a working mom and loves the fact that her daughters are proud of her.
“I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland”, she said.
Say Yes To Play Time
Shonda committed to saying yes when her kids asked her to play. In one example, she was on her way out to a dinner function one evening. However, her children asked her to play just as she was heading for the door. She said yes anyway, knowing she would be late for the function.
What difference does it make being 15 minutes to a function, when that 15 minutes will mean the world to her kids? She also realised that when she sits down and plays with her children, they can only play together for about 15 minutes before they want to move on, and that is cool.
We can all manage the 15 minutes, can’t we? Shonda encourages 15 minutes of play time a day. Play time could be with your kids, or could be 15 minutes dedicated to doing something that relaxes you.Play time could be with your kids, or could be 15 minutes doing something that relaxes you Click To Tweet
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Say Yes to looking after yourself
Shonda advocates saying ‘yes to replenishing your well’. For one thing, she recommends disconnecting from work, especially on weekends to explore other sides to ourselves. As a rule, she started focusing on being home for dinner, disconnecting by 19h00 in the evening. Actually the world will not end if she does not take those calls. There will be emergencies, but these are few and far between.
She also admits to getting it wrong as often as she gets it right, don’t we all?
Be the badass that you are and own it
Shonda created a word. Yes, she did, she is completely within her rights to create a word. Badassery. Defined in her book as follows: 1) “the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts, and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; (2) the practice of living life with swagger.”
Accept compliments, say thank you and move on.Shonda created a word. Yes, she did, she is completely within her rights to create a word. 'Badassery'. Click To Tweet
Year of Yes is not about agreeing to everything, its about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do something different you may just surprise yourself.
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