Shonda Rhimes – My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

This morning, while having my cup of coffee and browsing through YouTube, I came across one of my favourite TED Talks  ” My Year of Saying Yes to Everything” by Shonda Rhimes, who is the creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and author of Year of Yes.

I watched this Ted Talk last year and absolutely loved it. I have always been a big fan of Shonda and her work as well as work ethic. In fact, I decided to get into her memoir as well – Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. (The TED Talk is based on the book)
In the Ted Talk, Shonda Rhimes shares about what really makes her the titan that she is and also gives the audience a glimpse into her life as a mother, who is also a businesswoman who makes over 70 hours of great television every season. She goes into how she had lost her Hum and how she found it again.

Shonda further talks about how her dream job has little to do with dreaming and more to do with working hard. “When I am hard at work, when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling,” she says. In those moments, when she is most inspired, she experiences the hum—a feeling she defines as striving for greatness at any cost. “I was the hum and the hum was me,” she says.

“So what do you do when the work you love starts to taste like dust?”
What happens when you lose you Hum?
You get it back.

Why do we find ourselves so frequently unhappy, trapped in the hamster wheel of accomplishment and approval, even if it is one of our own makings? From behind the screen of hard work, good work, we come to feel hard and good ourselves. But when the screen is lifted, what remains? It is absolutely true that being your own boss comes with a lot of freedoms, it also means that in walking this path of your own making, you are taking marching orders possibly from the most demanding, most critical, most merciless boss possible. You.

In her TED Talk, she explains that during that year, she forced herself to face monumental fears such as public speaking, live TV interviews, and even acting. In saying yes to these difficult and scary tasks, she “undid” the fear. But it wasn’t until one question – and one “yes” – that really pulled her life into clear focus.Rhimes clearly has a passion for her work. She calls the feeling she gets while working, “the hum,” and she lives for it. “I am the hum,” she said. So when the hum stopped for Rhimes and her work started to taste bitter, she felt lost, overworked, burned out, and with no sense of purpose.Confronting stress and the feeling inevitable burnout is terrifying, regardless of age or occupation. I personally know this very well. When you get to a point in your career, relationship, or life where you must ask, “Who am I?” it can bring unfamiliar emotions and change the way you once viewed what you love. So how do we find our hum? 

Personally, I have had to remind myself of what is important to me, why I have chosen to do what I do and what it is that I am hoping to achieve. Once I was able to answer these questions, I could feel myself regaining my sense of purpose.  As I continue to work towards regaining my hum, I notice the changes, I begin to love my work again, my studies, my life and the future I am building for myself. I start to feel like myself again. By critically assessing where I was falling short and unpacking the ways in which I was dishonouring myself, I was able to start finding myself again by saying yes to self-love, yes to building new relationships, yes to learning new skills, yes to stepping out of my comfort zone, yes to taking better care of myself, yes to possibilities.

I personally define the hum as striving for greatness against all odds, it is the space where you operate at your optimal level, doing your absolute best while putting your heart into it.

“There’s a hum that happens inside my head when I hit a certain writing rhythm, a certain speed. When laying track goes from feeling like climbing a mountain on my hands and knees to feeling like flying effortlessly through the air. Like breaking the sound barrier. everything inside me just shifts. I break the writing barrier. And the feeling of laying track changes, transforms, shifts from exertion into exultation.”

I hope you enjoy this TED Talk as much as I did, if not more. And I hope that you always find your hum. I will be doing a review on the book soon!

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