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As I clicked on this Talk I thought about the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man. In it, Carrey plays Carl a loan officer who is stuck in a rut and attached to some pretty anti-social habits.

He said No to everything.

That was until Carl went to a self-help seminar where Terrence Stamp playing a stereotypical over-the-top life guru hypnotizes him into saying “Yes” to everything. Soon he was saying Yes to learning Korean, to buying a mail order bride, taking guitar lessons, hanging out with friends from the office, and to every opportunity that came his way. With a Jim Carrey movie, of course, not all Yesses turn out great but overall, the experience was life-altering. He ended up getting a promotion at work and found romance with none other than Zooey Deschanel.

Shonda Rhimes, the titan behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, had her own Yes intervention. She committed herself to a year of saying Yes and the experience helped her do some things she had been afraid of doing, like public speaking and this TedTalk.

One day, as she was rushing out the door her toddler interrupted her to play and she said Yes. With that yes and staying behind to play, Rhimes found something she had lost: her Hum, i.e. her mojo.

What is the Hum?

The writer, producer, creator describe her Hum and losing it this way:

“When I am hard at work… when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling,” The Hum is a drug, the Hum is music, the Hum is God’s whisper in my ear. But what happens when it stops? Am I anything besides the Hum?

As she walks us through her “Year of Yes” and to the moment when she got her Hum back, we’re reminded of the importance of creating a work-life balance.

Stopping to play with her toddler helped her get her Hum back. Rhimes learned the lesson that even she needs those breaks. Periods of silence and play are restorative and sometimes, they’re just the thing our work needs.

 

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