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Shonda Rhimes: The Year of Yes Book Review



Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Private Practice; all these tales woven into TV perfection were birthed from the psyche of no other than Shonda Rhimes. Beautiful, educated, talented, successful, but shy? Introverted? Yes, I was shocked too when I found out from reading Shonda Rhimes' book, The Year of Yes, that she struggled with finding her voice at times and gaining confidence.


Now, I have to admit that I hesitated reading this book. I thought to myself, The Year of Yes? I already say yes too much, I needed the year of HELL NO. However, as the good saying goes, don't judge a book by its title cover.


You Never Say Yes to Anything


Before her epic year of 'yes', Rhimes' sister brought it to her attention that although she always spoke about amazing opportunities and invites to hob nob with the rich and famous - she never said yes to anything. Those 6 muttered words would catapult Rhimes into intense self-reflection and a year that would change her life and produce a book that would transform many others.


What does the Year of Yes Mean?


To Shonda Rhimes, the year of yes meant that she would say 'yes' to anything she was afraid of. Many of us never live the lives we imagine solely out of fear. In my opinion, Shonda Rhimes, like myself, was comfortable living inside of her mind. Although her mind produces unmatchable story lines and great entertainment, she was not playing the game of life full out. Challenging herself to live in a cocoon of yes forced her to emerge a beautiful confident butterfly, unrecognizable to the people around her. I learned a lot from Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes, and here were my major takeaways:


1. Challenge Yourself to Say Yes


Shonda Rhimes is very talented, but I often forget that great talent doesn't always equate to extreme confidence. Before I read her book, Shonda Rhimes was the Beyonce of writers - the best of the best. Now, I call her the 'Shonda Rhimes of writing' because she is great all on her own and needs no comparisons to Beyonce. However, what truly makes her great is her ability to reflect. When her sister muttered those words, "You never say yes to anything," that bothered Rhimes. However, she didn't bury those feelings or brush them off, she confronted them, she sat with them, and she transmuted them to, "I will say yes to everything I am afraid of."


If you're reading this, think about all the things you are afraid of. Jot them down and create a plan. How will you say yes to the things you are afraid of? During her year of yes, Rhimes unlocked a world and parts of herself that she didn't even know existed. Her confidence higher and her willpower stronger than ever, Rhimes' personal story of transformation may be her best story yet. What parts of ourselves could we unlock if we follow suit?


2. Dreams Are Just Dreams


Shonda Rhimes was asked to speak at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. She was nervous and uncertain about the speech, but it was her year of yes, right? During her speech, she said something that really stood out and in my opinion is the basis of achievement.


Rhimes said,


"Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them."

She is right. We can have the prettiest, loftiest, bubbly dreams, but if we don't give those dreams a vehicle to propel forward, they go nowhere. Sometimes we can get caught up in an imagination loop. This loop prevents us from taking action because it's easier to play the part in our minds. Don't get caught in this loop. Don't be imprisoned by dreams, let them free you by taking action.


3. Yes to Hell No


Remember earlier when I told you all that I didn't want to read this book because I thought it would advise me to say yes to everything? Well, I was wrong. There was a whole chapter on saying yes to no. Rhimes shared her difficulty in saying no to people. I have the same struggle, so on this part of the book, my ears perked up. I smiled like a proud mama upon hearing the story of her saying no to a friend that had asked her for a very large sum of money. She shared that although she was nervous to say no, afterward the person showed all of crude and true colors. Saying no shed light on who people really were.


I have recently learned that when we don't say no, we aren't being true to ourselves, our own wants and needs. Instead, we setup a false narrative with the people around us. People who typically always say yes are normally very passive with bright beautiful souls. However, saying yes to everything, especially when it hinders you, erodes that soul over time and the person that was once bright and shiny becomes cut off and jaded.


My Own Year of Yes?


The book was not what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. I have gained even more respect for Shonda Rhimes and I shared many of the same fears that she was able to overcome. I finished her book walking away with hope that if another introverted, shy person that lived in the confines of her mind could break out, I could too. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that someone else very similar to you was able win and see them win. That alone makes you believe you can win too.


I am challenging myself to a year of yes. I will continue to say yes (and yes to no) until I transform into the person I see in my mind. One of biggest challenges is getting out of the house more. I will say yes, to exploring life more. What will you say yes to this year?


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