Drop everything and listen up, because our fave Shonda Rhimes just gave us an amazing 19 minutes jam-packed with advice, inspiration, and the one thing that saved her career. In a beautiful new TED talk, Shonda opened up about her passion for working and her career. . . and what she did when she started to feel burned out, because even one of the most powerful, influential women in TV can get burned out.
Last year, it was announced that Shonda is publishing a book entitled Year of Yes that is about exactly what it sounds like — the year she decided to say yes to everything. That’s what Shonda’s talk is about, too — specifically, how it helped to save her career.
“I work a lot, very hard, and I love it,” Shonda said in the video. “When I’m hard at work, when I’m deep in it, there is no other feeling.”
We’ve all experienced that exciting feeling that goes hand-in-hand with doing something we’re passionate about. Shonda calls it “the hum.” “The hum is more than writing,” she explained in the talk. “It is action and activity. The hum is a drug. The hum is music. The hum is light and air. The hum is God’s whisper right in my ear. And when you have a hum like that, you can’t help but strive for greatness at any cost. That’s called the hum. Or maybe it’s called being a workaholic.”
However, as she worked harder and harder, the hum stopped. She was burned out and had nowhere to turn. “I was no longer having any fun,” she said. “So what do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, starts to taste like dust?”
Thus began her “Year of Yes,” when she started saying yes to anything, no matter how much it scared her. It was the moment she realized that it’s impossible to work continuously without giving the spirit time to play. “Work doesn’t work without play,” she explained. “It takes a little time, but after a few months, one day, the floodgates open, and there’s a rush, and I find myself standing in my office filled with an unfamiliar melody, full on groove inside me and around me, and it sends me spinning with ideas. . . The more I play, the more I feel the hum.”
Check out the entire talk below and be prepared to feel all sorts of inspiration. And remember: If you’re feeling burned out, take a page from Shonda’s book. Let yourself play in order to feel the hum once again.