"How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person" - Shonda Rhimes

I think, me and Shonda Rhimes' book “Year of Yes” were meant to meet. I found the book in an open book library when I just said YES to the marriage proposal of my boyfriend – Not kidding.

To quickly introduce Shonda Rhimes – She is the award-winning creator and executive producer of blockbuster television series like Grey’s anatomy or Scandal. Therewith, she has revolutionized the film industry- her series show a world full „women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men”. In her book, she describes how she overcomes her insecurities by saying one year “Yes”.

Never before has a book made me laugh and reflect at the same time. Today I would like to share with you my highlights and biggest learnings from it.

  1. DITCH THE DREAM. BE A DOER, NOT A DREAMER. 

Success only happens if you work for it. Very hard. Point. It is lovely to imagine how your life could look like if …. As Shonda puts it “You are blue-skying your life”. But the really successful people have to work for their success and Shonda is the best example. For me, it was kind of a wakeup call. Being in consulting, I really knew how to work really hard and really long hours. When I then lay in bed, I dreamed about AMELI. So why not work that long hours to make your dream come true? It feels so good to finally be a doer, not a dreamer. #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

  1. ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU THEY ARE DOING IT ALL PERFECTLY IS A LIAR 

I so much loved the honesty that incorporates the sentence above. I can only speak for myself, but I feel, it might be true for other women as well: I have this high demand on myself to be good in the respective roles. Good at my job, good as a friend, good as a daughter, good as a mother sometime. Especially the family thing really bothered me  – How can I be successful in my job as strategy consultant and be the mother I want to be? And consultancies, banks, corporate companies offer so many flexible working models by now. But it is always a compromise and it didn’t fit to my “I have to be good in every area” illusion. Finding that it basically is an illusion was a relief, it took a burden from me not to be alone with these feelings. Shonda wrote:

“If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off. That is the Faustian Bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel 100 percent okay. (…) Something is always lost. Something is always missing. And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them.”

Word. 

  1. LET’S BE LIKE WONDERWOMEN, ALL SWAGGER AND BADASSERY.

What Shonda discovered is that women often put their efforts and success off with “oh, just lucky” or “ah, that was nothing” Why can’t we just say thank you, smile, and accept that we really ARE successful or put a hell lot of effort in our work to be where we are today? Shonda wants women to be all badassery and defined it like this

Badassery

  1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts;
  2. (noun) the practice of living with swagger: SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involved loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare.

Wow. I read through the definition already a couple of times and it’s kind of an inner mantra. Try to be all swagger and badassery. BE full of swagger and badassery.     

  1. WE AS WOMEN CAN TOGETHER CHANGE SOCIETY

Shonda received the Hollywood Reporter’s Sherry Lansing Award, mainly due to her “breaking through the industry’s glass ceiling as a woman and an African-American.” She then reflected, that without so many women before her trying, the time would have never been right for her to have a break through. As she writes

“Because this? Was a group effort. Thank you to all these women in the room. Thank you to all these women who never made it into this room. And thank you to all the women who will hopefully till a room one hundred time this size when we are all gone.”

We are in charge on how we will be perceived in society, what role we have, how the all white men industries will look like in 100 years. This is one of our grounding principles at AMELI. We truly believe in equality, the support of each other, the empowerment. So, especially in times like now, my appeal is: Let’s further break down the glass ceiling. 

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I cannot thank Shonda Rhimes enough that she wrote this book and the destiny that it was in that open book library. I cannot recommend it highly enough to everyone and will end with another of her quotes as reminder:

“Whoever I’ll be, I will be beautiful. I will be happy. I will be worth it. Always a work in progress. Always dancing. Always in the sun. Yes.”