As I turned the last page of “Year of Yes”, the best-selling book written by the creator of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, I heard myself uttering the word “Yes”! Actually, reading this book by one of the most extraordinary women ever, whose creative empire “Shondaland” is named after her, had me saying “yes” over, over and over again!
Who would have thought that the powerful Shonda Rhimes was an introvert? That despite her major successes and popular acclaim, she was actually avoiding public appearances? That interviews triggered panic attacks for her? That’s how the “Year of Yes” starts, with a powerful woman who, like so many of us, is afraid. Afraid of our own brilliance, afraid of our potential, afraid of our power.
When her sister Delores tells her during a Thanksgiving holiday that she always says “no” to amazing opportunities, Rhimes realizes that despite her many successes, she also was miserable inside. That’s when she committed to saying “yes” for an entire year to new opportunities showing up in her life. Which meant facing her debilitating social anxiety and say yes to being on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, or giving her much acclaimed speech at her alma mater Dartmouth, and so many more things she would have politely declined before…
I remember thinking “Well, must be nice to saying yes to sharing a box at the Kennedy Center Honors with President and Michelle Obama”! Yet I recognized in her what I, and so many of us, do to ourselves. How, despite our biggest accomplishments, we fail to give ourselves the compassion, love and acceptance we so crave. While everyone else may be applauding us, congratulating us, or even hate on us, we keep ourselves busy ducking, hiding our greatness, and diminishing our successes. That’s when we don’t give credit to others, our teams, families, and friends for the hard work we continuously put in. I mean, how many of us would simply admit, out loud, that we’re badasses!
As an introvert myself, and definitely one who’s struggled with acknowledging my own worth, here are three lessons I got from “A Year of Yes” and why I think all women should read it at least once a year:
Say “Yes” To Your Own Greatness
You’ve heard it before, “you have greatness within you”. You may just not have believed it. So you duck and hide when receiving a compliment. You do amazing stuff day in and day out, and give yourself zero credits for it. Actually, when you’re not giving others the credit for you accomplishments, you’re watching said credit be distributed to everyone else but you.
In her book, Rhimes pushes us instead to acknowledge our inner badasses. I love how she describes her struggle to simply say “thank you” when receiving a compliment. With no explanations or justifications. Simply saying “thank you” and smiling! I’ve actually been putting it into practice, and yes, it feels great…
Say Yes to Winning as A Mom
When Rhimes starts talking about motherhood in her book, all I can say is “Yes, yes, and yes”! She clearly makes a strong point about motherhood not being this sacrificial experience in which we’re supposed to leave our identities, passions and talents at the door. We can still be strong , badass moms thriving and succeeding in our lives and careers. I love the part when she talks about replacing the sappy greeting cards celebrating moms for all their sacrifices, with celebratory testimonials of how badass women inspire their children to be their best.
Say Yes to Real Relationships
Maya Angelou said it right: “ When people show you who they are, believe them”. We don’t realize how much the people around you can impact our growth, until we start growing. In her book, Rhimes discusses some of her toxic friends whom she had to distance herself with. As she started growing, embracing and saying yes to herself, they grew more resentful.
How many times have you faced breakthroughs and transitions in your life and realized that some of the people you thought were there for you, were actually not for you? I loved that Rhimes’ growth showed this doesn’t just happen to the rest of us. The healthier you become, the more you need to surround yourself with healthy people in your corner.
Have you read or re-read “A Year of Yes”? What did you think about it?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.