As celebrated creator, writer and executive producer of TV series’ like Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How I got Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes is a powerhouse. A Titan. something she refers to in her TED talk where she meticulously breaks down what it takes to actually own Thursday’s on America’s ABC network.
She is a very busy person. She was also someone who said no a lot, no to anything that took away her time or meant getting out of her introvert marrow shell. She, in the words of her sister Delorse, “never said yes to anything”.
In this book, Rhimes starts saying yes and what felt insurmountable suddenly becomes easier and she begins to live a much more honest and personally rewarding life. She also does not make what she does look easy, which is a relief.
It’s an easy read, written in a sometimes first paced monologue that those who have watched Scandal are not unfamiliar with. It’s funny, like ‘put your book down and laugh out loud funny’ and it’s also profound, filled with a lot of relatable gems that will have you put down the book and gaze into the distance (in my case the distance was the view of Adams Arcade from inside a City Hoppa).
If you are a writer, you will definitely relate to what she calls the five miles she has to mentally run in order to get those creative juices flowing.
“ Those five miles are just… writing crap and doodling and trying to have an idea and surfing the internet and hoping like hell not to get so distracted that you give up. Worse? Those five miles are lined with brownies and cupcakes and episodes of Game of Thrones and Idris Elba waiting to talk to only you and really good novels to read.”
Wait…so being Shonda Rhimes means getting calls from Idris Elba on the regular? I have so many questions but I digress…
A year of yes of course involves saying Yes to difficult conversations. Ah..she must be talking to me.
I was that person who would postpone dealing with an issue in hopes that it would go away quietly. Sometimes it did, but more often than not, it exploded like something left too long in the microwave, a mess that would have been avoided had the issue been dealt with from the beginning. But, I have also recently been the person who took a deep breath and decided to start that conversation. And I can tell you for a fact, it is worth it. You can bet I was one of the people highlighting this part thrice.
“Because no matter how hard a conversation is, I know on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace. Knowledge. An answer is delivered, character is revealed, truces are formed. Misunderstandings are resolved.”
Saying yes also inadvertently leads to ‘saying yes to saying no’. No to requests that go over and beyond your capacity of kindness and no to friendships that drain rather than energise. For Rhimes, this meant the discovery that her newfound happiness was not one everyone shared, you know because it’s fun ‘being dark and twisty’ and having a fellow vampire to share that misery with. “Unhappy people do not like it when a fellow unhappy person becomes happy. I am absolutely sure this is true because I used to be an unhappy person,” she admits.
You will notice that Rhimes does not try to be self-deprecating about her success and actually this was something she had to learn to say yes to. As women, brazenly accepting praise for our hard work is almost frowned upon, we ‘d rather say we are lucky, or make some off hand joke about how it was just a fluke. I mean God forbid we stand out and shine more than a fellow human right? Wrong. Accepting that you worked hard for something is not vanity it’s…accepting that you worked hard, and that acceptance means graciously saying thank you when someone compliments your efforts.
I could go on about this book but that would mean having to give many a spoiler alert. If you are looking for some 2016 motivation and love the narration already displayed by Shondaland produced shows, you will enjoy this book, if you are looking for an autobiography as some unfortunate souls in the Amazon review section were, you may be disappointed. Still, I recommend it, 2016 may just be your Year of Yes.
The book is available on Amazon.com for $13.32 for an electronic copy.
Watch Shonda Rhimes Ted talk below: