Late last year I finished listening to Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book after it was recommended to me by the fabulous Gemma McCall and it may seem a bit dramatic but it had quite a significant impact on the way I approached situations in my life. I’ve told absolutely anyone who listens to me to buy the book and here’s why:
Lesson one - Say Yes to having a voice!
“Everyone’s got some greatness in them. You do. The girl over there does. That guy on the left has some. But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it.”
This is one of my favourite quotes from the book. I’m a fairly confident person but I did have these inner fears that I wasn’t quite good enough to excel at what I do. I was surrounded by amazing comms professionals who seemed to have it nailed and I just felt like I couldn’t compare.
The book made me realise I actually had my very own personal experience and I should be brave enough to use my voice to speak about it (hence the reason for writing this previous blog). Standing up for what’s right and speaking up regardless of the fear you have in you can be exhilarating. We all have this power and we should use it for the greater good, where we can, because even if you can make a small difference to one person, it matters.
The below extract from the book is one of the key reasons why I didn’t hesitate to speak at the Northern Power Women celebration event - it was an opportunity to use my voice to speak about something I really cared about. You can listen to what I said here:
“Who you are today . . . that’s who you are. Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth. Let your heart beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion. So what. You what? You pass out, you die, you poop? No. (And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know.)”
Lesson Two: The Power to say ‘Yes’ to ‘No’
“There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”
We’re all guilty of taking too much on or surrounding ourselves with people who can be pretty draining mentally. Like Shonda I used to have this crazy fear of not being liked by people. Now don’t get me wrong, if my morals, values or ethics were compromised in any way then my issue with confrontation would disperse. However, I’ve lost count of the times I’d worry myself to sleep wondering why certain people behaved the way they did. However, taking the advice from the book and for the sake of my own happiness, I decided to stop focussing on the negative, remove toxic people from my life, surround myself with powerful and empowering humans and basically just stop worrying about what people think. After all if you were everyone’s cup of tea you’d be a mug!
Lesson Three Say Yes to accepting compliments
“Not a single woman in the room could handle being told, “You’re awesome.” I couldn’t handle being told I am awesome. What in the hell is wrong with us?”
I’m definitely guilty of stopping people mid-flow of a compliment or just shrugging it off. I’m not sure if it’s a British thing or a woman thing but I’ve seen quite a few people really struggle with it. I normally stand there looking a bit awkward and not really knowing what to say. But Shonda’s advice is just smile and say ‘thank you’ then stop there.
If someone is generous enough to take the time to give you a compliment then it’s quite likely that they genuinely mean it. So it’s important not to belittle yourself by pretending it wasn’t a big deal because to them it was.
These are just some very small nuggets that I took away, there’s so much more. Hopefully it’s enticed you to grab the book and bring it into your life - you honestly won’t regret it and finally in the words of Ms Shonda Rhimes:
“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”