Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
“You never say yes to anything.”
These are the six words said by her sister that led to Shonda Rhimes spending the entire next year saying yes to any and every opportunity that she feared or resisted. Saying no got her in her present situation: wildly successful yet authentically miserable. She therefore reasoned that saying yes to anything and everything might be a way to get to a better place within herself. If saying yes did not get her somewhere better, it would get her somewhere different.
About the Author
Shonda Rhimes is a self-professed liar, but for good reason--it’s the reason for her claim to fame. As the mastermind writer behind television show hits Greys Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, her talent for storytelling has landed her many accolades and awards including being named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 People Who Help Shape the World (2007), the 2014 Directors Guild of America Award, the 2012 Golden Gate Award and multiple NAACP Image Awards. Rhimes is a television producer, screenwriter, author and is a graduate of both Dartmouth College the University of Southern California. She is the proud mother of three children.
Synopsis, in Brief
-When continuing to say no is leading to nowhere and standing still is no longer an option, say yes...to everything.
-If we lack within ourselves what it takes to take chances, we need someone else to give us a push. It took having her sister tell her she never says yes to anything to give Rhimes the push she needed to do something different.
-As a self-professed liar and storyteller, Rhimes found grave difficulty in getting honest with herself about her fear of saying yes to new opportunities.
-Saying no meant there was nothing new to fear.
-Saying yes also meant accepting compliments. Prior to her year of yes, Rhimes would modestly downplay the compliments of others. Her year of saying yes led her to realize it’s alright to enjoy the praise of others.
-Success and accolades do not equal self-acceptance and fulfillment.
-Feeling beautiful comes with loving your body and making a commitment to saying yes to doing what is best for it. Rhimes was able to lose over 120lbs by saying yes to exercise and clean eating.
-Sometimes saying yes means saying ‘no’: making difficult decisions and having tough conversations is important for healthy relationships. Say no to those who are depleting you.
-Yes means engaging in authentic friendships by ending ties with toxic people in our lives.
-The year of yes taught Rhimes how to love and trust her own authentic self by embracing challenges.
Tools for Saying Yes
-Say YES to Play: become comfortable with choosing relaxation and leisure over work.
-Say YES to prioritizing your personal and professional boundaries. For Rhimes, this meant adding a statement to her email signature letting recipients know she will not engage in work emails after 7pm or on weekends. The clause also encouraged her employees to put down their phones (and do the same).
-Say YES to joining the club: this may mean partaking in activities as a minority or as a woman, that are opportunities to break through barriers of perceived exclusivity in order to be an agent of impact on that organization.
-Saying YES to asserting yourself in difficult conversations by saying NO.
-Saying YES to seeing people not how you want them to appear, but as they are in their own authenticity. Weed out people from your inner circle if they don’t live up to your standards and values.
-“Dance it out” is a reference to the final scene of Shonda’s television show Grey’s Anatomy Season 10, where characters Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) prepare for Cristina’s move to Zurich (and Oh’s exit from the show). Before leaving, Cristina meets with Meredith for one last dance. The two dance and laugh carelessly, enjoying a few moments of bliss in spite of the sadness. Rhimes implores us to gracefully exit daunting tribulations in life by dancing them out blissfully and intentionally, in pursuit of our own true happiness.