Most self-help books put a lot of stock in dreams. Not Shonda Rhimes. She understands that some of the most amazing things we can do are things we never would have dreamed. And you get there by doing stuff, not by dreaming.
“A dream job is not about dreaming. It’s all job.”
We’ve been exploring lessons from Year of Yes, a book by the producer of the hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.
In Rhimes’ Dartmouth commencement address, she challenged those idealistic young graduates to “Ditch the dream: be a doer, not a dreamer.”
Your job might not be the thing that makes you happy right now. Maybe the priority right now is making money and paying your bills. But that’s OK.
Dreaming won’t get you anywhere. But doing the work will give you traction and progress and movement.
Here’s what Rhimes dreamed:
“You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue-skyed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basement of relatives, FYI.”
But she came to a simple realization: “I could dream about being Toni Morrison. Or I could do.”
Rhimes started doing the work and found a way to tell stories that, while completely different from Morrison, appealed to her.
“Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.”
So get your head out of the clouds and get to work.