What’s your hum?

Shonda Rhimes is famous & successful television producer and writer from USA. In this TED talk, she discusses her experiments with saying YES – as it started with her toddler daughter. This is what she says –

(Toddler Emerson) asked me to play with her one evening when I was on my way somewhere, and I said, “Yes.” And that yes was the beginning of a new way of life for my family. I made a vow that from now on, every time one of my children asks me to play, no matter what I’m doing or where I’m going, I say yes, every single time. Almost. I’m not perfect at it, but I try hard to practice it. And it’s had a magical effect on me, on my children, on our family. But it’s also had a stunning side effect, and it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood it, that I understood that saying yes to playing with my children likely saved my career.

Shonda Rhimes is super successful and quite busy being a television producer and absolutely loves her work. She mentions that she has a dream job, and a dream job is not about dreaming. It’s all job, all work, all reality, all blood, all sweat, no tears. She asserts that she works a lot, she works very hard and she loves it.

One can understand that she is probably talking about flow that she experiences in her work that she finds extremely purposeful and expression of her identity when she talks about that “hum” –

There is some kind of shift inside me when the work gets good. A hum begins in my brain, and it grows and it grows and that hum sounds like the open road, and I could drive it forever.
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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.
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I like that hum. I love that hum. I need that hum. I am that hum. Am I nothing but that hum?

It’s wonderful to listen to her talking about her hum with all that intensity and exuberance. And then she also talks about that hum getting stopped – she stopped  loving her work that she loved so much for years. This is exactly what I was trying to emphasize in the article Rethinking busy life: We all need time away from our work no matter how much we love our work.

She talks about being busy with the work she loved and enjoyed and her realizations about missing out few things with her three wonderful daughters. This is what she contemplates as she talks about missing that hum in her work –

So what do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, starts to taste like dust?

When the hum stops, who are you? What are you?

If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive in the silence?

Shonda Rhimes is a prolific writer and an excellent orator. I’d highly recommend that you listen to her talk completely to understand what brought out thee questions and her realizations that made her say YES whenever her toddler daughter asked her to play. The meditative ‘being present in the moment’ feeling that she experienced while playing with her daughters and her own discovery of the real hum of the universe.

The featured image is a screen-shot from Shonda Rhimes’ TED talk