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Shonda Rhimes – My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

Shonda Rhimes – My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

When I saw the title of this Talk, it got me reminiscing 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 would say 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 coworkers after work, and to every opportunity that came his way. As you would expect from a Jim Carrey movie, some Yesses landed him in awkward situations, 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 because she stayed behind to goof-off, Rhimes found something that she had lost: her mojo (what she refers to as her “hum”).

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.

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But what happens when it stops? As she walks us through her “Year of Yes” and to the moment when she got her Hum back, I’m reminded why it’s important to have a life outside of work. It was because she stopped to play with her toddler that she got her get her Hum back. If she had put whatever she was rushing out the door to do over her daughter, she wouldn’t have had her mojo back when she did. Rhimes says she learned the lesson that even she needs those breaks. Fun, play, and restorative time offs are sometimes just the thing our work needs.

It’s amazing how beautifully we’re designed—like a high tech car or device, we have our version of indicator lights to let us know when we need food, rest, fun, and other breaks.

 

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