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Shonda Rhimes is, in her own words, a titan. Everyone who watches tv knows who Shonda Rhimes is. Her name is synonymous with shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and many more of today’s best shows on television. Shonda’s career titles include: television producer, television and film writer, and author of the Year of Yes. Her production company, Shondaland, produces some of the top shows on television today. On top of all that, she has three daughters to raise. In short, she is the kind of woman that I look at think, how in the hell does she do all of that? Which means I need to know everything about her.
I have always been fascinated with successful people and their stories. As a person who is striving for the ultimate career success, it helps me to see how people have done it before me. It’s a burst of motivation for the times that I don’t think that I can do it anymore. So when The Year of Yes came out a few years ago I knew I had to read it. Let’s just skim over the fact that it took me four years to finally get to it. I’m also the type of person that needs to be in the right mood for a book. I knew that I needed to be in a place where I would really take in the meaning behind this book. I needed it to be impactful, not just another book I’ve read.
It’s important to note that I actually listened to this book on Audible. Shonda read the e-book version which, I think, gives you a far better understanding of how she wanted the book read because all inflections are her own. I know some people don’t consider this reading… but those are not my people!
As I listened, and re-listened, to this book these were my takeaways:
Saying yes to the things that scare you, makes them less scary.
Doing the hard things makes you a better person. Every time that you do something hard and live to tell the tale, you become that much stronger and more confident.
This was a reminder that I needed after a few years of kind of floundering in the world. This happens to me fairly often actually, I’ll do something huge that is “scary” then I’ll get complacent and stop doing the scary things.
A prime example is: I remember the day I left for boot camp like it was yesterday. Leaving the comfort of my hometown at 17 and joining the Marine Corps was probably the most scary thing that I’ve ever done. I would have given anything to take back the pledge I made to this country and just stay home and party with my friends all summer. But that wasn’t an option and guess what, the Marine Corps made me a better person 100 times over.
Given the opportunity to go back in time, I would do it again every. single. time. Plus one phrase that is instilled in us in the Marine Corps that I like to recite from time to time is: complacency kills. It seems a little melodramatic now that I’m not surrounded by fellow Marines, but the point is still the same. There is no growth when you are complacent and if you’re not growing, then what are you doing?
This reminder, say yes to the things that scare you, was what I needed to stop living a complacent life. This is the entire theme of Shonda’s book. Each yes that she said led to bigger and better outcomes for her career and personal life.
Say yes to the things that scare you. You’ll be a better person for it.
Saying yes to fun brings you back to your true self.
Is there anything more on trend right now than being “busy”? We’re all busy ok. Trust me, I was the queen of “too busy, I’m working” to do whatever it is you want me to do. But that turned me into a not-so-fun human being. Seriously, ask my family & friends.
When I was running my storefront business I had turned into a person that was only focused on work. Nothing else. Nada. I lost friends because of it. And for my friends that did stick around, I barely socialized with them. It’s actually a joke around here that I am shocked that Michael asked me to marry him because I couldn’t have been more consumed with work during the first two years of our relationship.
Talk about doing the things that scare you, I was terrified to close the storefront and move that business online only. When I did it, the world didn’t end, and I became a better person. I actively started working on my relationships again and allowed myself to have some fun. I found myself, my voice and the joy in life again.
Read the Year of Yes
For Shonda, this was saying yes to playing with her kids, even if she was late or working. She learned that having fun is how you remember who you are. It’s how you can give your loved ones the attention that they deserve. Having fun is a part of life, or else what are we all doing here anyway?
Saying yes to your health because this is the only body you get.
I’ve been preaching but not practicing this for years. For the most part I am a fairly healthy person. I occassionally run half marathons and I walk my dog on a semi-regular basis. But what I eat is just garbage. Like right now, I am eating a bag of Cheez-It’s as I write this because it’s 11 am and I haven’t had breakfast.
Shonda talks about her journey to losing 120 pounds and how she was in denial for a long time about the time in her day to focus on her health. We’ve all heard that extremely annoying saying, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.” That saying is annoying because it’s true. We all have the time to meal prep and spend 20-30 working out. You just have to make it a priority in your life.
For me, I finally decided enough was enough after a summer full of eating my feelings! I was blessed with the same body type as my Grandma Thober. While she was a lovely woman, she had cankles, a hunchback and saggy arms. As a young child I used to ask her to raise her arms and then I would pat her sagging skin and say, “biiiig skiiiiin”, like the little asshole I was.
That’s not what I want my future self to look like, or my current self for that matter!
Saying yes to doing, not just dreaming, will actually get you to your goals.
If that quote isn’t the slap in the face that we all needed then I don’t know what is. Honestly. It’s great to have a dream, but what if JK Rowling only dreamt of Harry Potter? What if Shonda Rhimes only dreamt of Grey’s Anatomy? What if whoever invented pizza only dreamt of it? We wouldn’t have all of these amazing things in our life, that’s what.
The world needs who you were meant to be. They need your ideas and what you have to offer. So stop dreaming and start doing. And, above all else, stop letting other people’s voices/insecurities deter you from following what you know is your true path.
Listening to The Year of Yes was definitely a nice reminder to get my ass in gear if I want to accomplish any of the things that I’ve set out to accomplish in this world. It was a reminder to put my health first, to have more fun, and to stop dreaming and actually start doing. It’s a great book for anyone out there that needs just a little extra motivation right now!
Have you read The Year of Yes? What did you think? Did it inspire you to do something that you’ve always dreamt of?
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