Tara Sophia Mohr | wise living

Tara Sophia Mohr, Wise Living. Tools for finding more fulfillment, peace and everyday joy.

how often do you say this?

Last week a friend of mine gave a major presentation at work—a big deal, once-a-year kind of thing.

“I rocked it,” she said to me on the phone the next day. “I really rocked it.”

A grin spread on my face. So glad for her. Then I noticed, I felt super happy—like her saying this was changing my whole mood and how I felt about the day ahead.

I realized I was happy, yes, because she rocked it, but more so because she knew she rocked it and she said it, without apology or diminishment.

Even though women friends are incredibly bright and accomplished, I don’t have too many conversations with them where they say “I rocked it” and then leave it at that.

Of course, as girls we are socialized to never come across as arrogant, to be careful not to hurt others’ feelings or make them jealous by shining too bright. If our parents weren’t the ones sending that message, later we found out from movies or tv shows or the boys at school or the mean girls that if you are perceived as arrogant, as a girl? That’s will get you into big social trouble. Big.

I know a lot of women who still live with those beliefs. They don’t share about their accomplishments, maybe because they internalized early childhood messages about the danger of coming across as arrogant, but also because when adult women proudly speak about their accomplishments, we too pay some costs in how we are perceived. So we all learn to tamper down how we talk about ourselves.

But these influences cause too many of us to never declare, with joy and satisfaction, “I rocked it.”

The worst part is this: language helps us define our experience and know it. If saying out loud, “I really did a great job” is off limits, eventually, feeling like you did a great job becomes off limits too.

It is probably true that not every person in your life will respond with only support when you announce your triumphs. But there are people in your life who will. Those are the people to call when you are ready to simply declare your success.

I challenge you: see it when you’ve rocked it, and to say it to another woman in your life. {Click to Tweet}

You will give a gift to the woman you say it to, opening up the possibility for her to own her accomplishments more fully, too.

Love,
Tara

P.S. I’m delighted to be giving a keynote at the Invent Your Future Conference: Accelerating the Success of Women Leaders  on April 22nd in Silicon Valley. I would love to see you there. As one of my blog subscribers, you can sign up with a special discount by clicking HERE.

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the most underestimated power source…

As part of my coaching training, one week I was given some odd homework. All of us students were supposed to spend 15 minutes lying on the floor, looking under our kitchen sinks, getting curious about what was there—and sustaining that curiosity for 15 minutes.

The idea was that being a good coach required being incredibly curious—approaching our clients not with interpretations of their problems, but with an intense curiosity that would allow us, with them, to jointly discover solutions to their challenges. By hanging out at the kitchen sink, we’d practice bringing curiosity to something seemingly mundane, strengthening our curiosity muscle, so to speak.

I was traveling at the time, and didn’t have a kitchen sink in our hotel room, so I went to bathroom floor, lay down, opened the cabinet and started looking. After a few minutes of intentionally bringing curiosity to that sink cabinet, I found myself wondering who built it and who installed the sink, and what their lives were like. I wondered about the history of the hotel and its founders, and what ups and downs the business had had over the years. Suddenly, I was incredibly curious to know the behind the scenes story about this place we were staying.

Later that night, I chatted with some staff members of the hotel about those questions. It led to some lovely conversations and brought the place alive for me. And, it got me going on a curiosity kick that continued for days and made our whole trip much more exciting.

Curiosity truly ignites—once sparked, it continues to burn.

At my next coaching class, everyone shared about the sink exercise. Some people had wondered about all the stuff under their sinks. Others found themselves wondering about plumbing, how the whole system worked – where the water went and where it came from. Others thought about water access issues and imagined what life would be like without water flowing from a tap.

The exercise had taught us all a few lessons:

1. You can get curious about anything
2. Curiosity is a muscle; it strengthens when used and needs to be used to stay strong
3. Being curious makes life much more exciting and fun

Last week I wrote about how watching my baby boy makes utterly obvious that we are hard-wired for curiosity. We come into life with an appetite to discover what surrounds us, to look closely and wonder, “what’s that? what’s that?” Curiosity, not indifference or fear, is our natural and original relationship to the world.

But while we might admire or even idealize children’s curiosity, as adults, we can’t imitate it. After all, if you or I peered out the window for as long as my son does, we’d never get out the door. We’d never be able to do our work, care for our loved ones, or get anything done.

Children’s curiosity is more intense than adults’ because childhood is an intense period of growth and of learning.

But that’s the lesson, isn’t it? Curiosity is the fuel for learning. If you want to experience a season of growth and learning in your life, you’d better get curious.

And whatever area of your life you want to experience growth in? Well, that’s an area to meet with curiosity, because

curiosity —> learning —> growth —> change

Let’s say you feel most stuck in the romantic-relationship arena of your life. Then that’s the area of life to bring intensive curiosity to. What does that look like? It means instead of fear leading you (What if I don’t meet the right person?! What if this relationship doesn’t work?! Ack!) or instead of old beliefs leading you (“I’m not good at dating” or “I’m afraid to commit”) you let curious questions lead. Those questions might be, “What do I really want?” or “What is this person before me really like?” or “What if I approach dating in a new way?”

If you are most stuck in your financial life, you can do the same thing. Bring forward your curiosity. Can you ask with pure curiosity, “what is getting me stuck?” “What would help it move?” Inquire into the situation with child-like curiosity—not exasperation or self-hate.

The area of life you feel most stuck and most dissatisfied with is the area that calls for the greatest, purest, curiosity, because it is the area in which you most need to grow.

The  really amazing thing is that curiosity can’t co-exist in you with judgement or fear. Because of that, curiosity is one of the most spiritual, energizing, and generative qualities we can inhabit, though it’s not talked about much. It’s sort of a best kept secret.

What area of your life is ready to  be transformed by curiosity? {Click to tweet}

Love,

Tara

P.S. I’m delighted to be giving a keynote at the Invent Your Future Conference: Accelerating the Success of Women Leaders  on April 22nd in Silicon Valley. I would love to see you there. As one of my blog subscribers, you can sign up with a special discount by clicking HERE.

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follow your…?

Our son is six weeks old now. He studies and studies what is outside his nursery window. He stares intently at the black and white images we’ve printed for him. He watches as if the greatest dance ever is being performed in front of him when I make simple movements with my hands.

You can’t watch a little one like this and not see how much we are wired to be fascinated by the world.

He’s taught me this lesson already: Our natural relationship to the world is not indifference. It is curiosity. [Click to Tweet]

We come into life as learners. We come into life excited by the world, waving our arms and kicking our legs because what’s before us is just so damn remarkable. If curiosity has to be sparked later, in older children or adults, it’s because something has gone wrong and their natural curiosity has been dampened along the way.

Soul-crushing jobs or schooling, unhealed emotional trauma, addictive behaviors like chronic overeating or workaholism, or simply being run by too many internal “shoulds”—all of these can slowly kill off our curiosity because all of those things numb us to life.

This all matters for your playing big. You’ve heard about “following your passion and “following your bliss.” Another way to think about this is: follow your curiosity. Perhaps when “finding your passion”seems daunting or “follow your bliss” seems too tall an order, ”following your curiosity” is a more accessible entry point in.

In to what? To a career you’ll love or to an outside-of-work life (a reading life, a creative life, a hobby life, a volunteering life, etc.) that you’ll love. Curiosity is a way in to the life that will feel thrilling to you, in the way every quiet life can feel thrilling, if it’s filled with the right things.

There’s two truths about curiosity: Particular topics, kinds of work, books, people, etc. will pique your curiosity. The things that pique your curiosity have something to do with what work you are meant to do next, what lessons you are meant to do next, what your spirit is craving. In other words, you can follow your curiosity to your next right chapter.

But the other truth is this: you can get curious about anything. You can bring curiosity to the table, even the most seemingly boring, full-of-drudgery table. You can find something in it to get curious about (How did this situation evolve? What’s possible here? What’s strange about this situation? How could it be that…? What would happen if I did…? and so on) You make it part of your life-learning curriculum by the way you look at it, the questions you ask.

A question to reflect on today—and share your answer with us in the comments please: what is sparking my curiosity now, and what would “following my curiosity” look like in my life or work right now?

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baby is here

Two weeks ago, on February 13th, in the hours just before the sun came up, our son was born.

He is healthy, gorgeous, full of personality already, and wondrously vibrant.

I’m recovering well and Eric and I are busy witnessing, care-taking, learning, and being stretched.

I get how this is an ever-demanding spiritual path, in every moment offering opportunities to stay relaxed, to stay with love, to center.

And I am thinking a lot about how what’s most extraordinary about life is also most ordinary – skies, love, breathing, bodies, babies.

So, that’s the happy news. Thank you for all your support during my pregnancy and now- it means a lot.

Sending love-

New mama Tara

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On Personal Branding

You’ve probably heard the term “personal brand.” It’s fashionable these days for the experts to talk about how everyone needs one.

If you work for a large company, the experts say, having a clear personal brand will help the right people understand what you are all about (your skills, work style, strengths, and so on) so that the right opportunities for advancement come your way.

If you are an entrepreneur, the experts will say that you need to determine/craft/hone your personal brand. Otherwise, jeez, how would you know what your logo or website should look like? How would you know the style in which to market your products or services? That all has to be consistent with your brand, right?

Today, I would like to personally declare all  the”create a personal brand” stuff bullshit.

I think the experts have some amnesia about the history of branding.

The concept of a “brand” came about to make products feel more like people. Branding is, in essence, about imbuing inanimate products with a sense of animate personality. Like, “Oh, that soap is elegant and feminine – I know that because of the lavender packaging and the music in the commercial and the kind of store it’s carried in.” Or, “Oh, that soft drink is all about fun, adventure, and youthfulness.”

People don’t need brands. We already have brands. Your brand is your personality.

We lead ourselves into a weird, objectifying split from self when we try to create or deliberately present a brand. Instead, approach it from the inside out. Work at being the most expressed, consistent, unapologetic version of your authentic self. Work at letting the real you come through. Work at having the courage to say what you actually have to say. Then you’ll have a strong, coherent “brand” naturally, which is to say, people will know who you are because you will be living it.

And, because you’ll be acting from the natural, complex you, and aren’t thinking about a checklist of brand attributes you are trying to consistently present, your “brand” will have dimensionality, nuance, surprises and depth, instead of becoming a straightjacket or 1-D version of you.

So the questions to ask yourself are: What style feels most like mine and how can I let it come through more? How can I put my strengths at the center of my work more and make sure those strengths impact others? How can I more fully bring forth my quirks, my hidden sides, or my authentic personality? How can I get braver about being me?

Note to aspiring and current entrepreneurs! This is one of a series of posts I’m doing in conjunction with spreading the word about Marie Forleo’s B-School training for entrepreneurs, which opens up for registration today. I took this course and I LOVED it and learned a lot.

If you sign up for B-School via this link, you’ll get two fabulous benefits: 1) access to two live calls with me where I’ll share some juicy lessons learned from building my business and 2) I’ll receive a portion of the revenue from your purchase, 100% of which I’m donating to nonprofits that support women activists and entrepreneurs – Kiva.org and The Global Fund for Women. So you’ll get to support a woman who needs it. If you are interested in learning more or signing up for B-School, click HERE.

Love,

Tara

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The numbers I ignore

Watercolor numbers by Guiseppe Salerno

Watercolor numbers by Guiseppe Salerno

 

There are a lot of numbers involved in pregnancy. Blood pressure numbers. Weight numbers. Belly size numbers. Blood test and urine test numbers. Due date and weeks pregnant numbers. We check if the baby is moving by kick counts. We assess the progression of labor by numbers for dilation, effacement and station. Now there are even apps that allow women to track lots of the numbers of pregnancy for themselves. My pregnancy has been filled with a lot more numbers than my  mother’s was, or than her mother’s was.

Pregnancy has pushed me to think about my relationship to numbers. On the one hand, I am grateful I live in a time and place where I had access to the instruments and the professionals who could measure important numbers that helped us know how things were going with the baby and with me. But every week, there was on the one hand the crisp world of the pregnancy numbers and then there was the experience of pregnancy- one of fluidity, mystery, and things there are no numerical ways to measure.

Moving between both was at times challenging.

There was the book that said do a certain number of the “prep for labor” squats and the yoga teacher that said do the squats till you feel done and want to stop doing them. There was the idea that the dilation number is very important to measure and the idea that since the progression of dilation is so nonlinear, the dilation number really doesn’t tell you much of import, except in a few circumstances. There is a due date number even though most babies are born sometime in a five week range, a weight gain range number even though what women naturally gain varies widely, and so on.

Then there is the other problem with numbers – our minds grasp onto them,and  find security or dissatisfaction in them. During my pregnancy there  were times when I said to the doctor, “tell me if there is a problem or something you think I need to know about, but otherwise, don’t tell me the number.” I didn’t want my mind to have the opportunity to make up an unhelpful story about it, as our minds so easily do once they’ve got a specific figure to grasp onto.

And yet, there is also something wonderfully crisp and sobering and helpful about numbers. It was comforting when I could be told this or that number related to the pregnancy was right on track. There are things it is good and important to measure. This is nuanced territory. There are ways the numbers with which we measure our lives can be helpful and there are ways in which they can be very unhelpful.

I love checking the numbers in my business, because they do tell a real story that I want to know about – a story of how many people were moved enough by a blog post to comment on it, a story of how many people resonated enough with what I said to sign up for something I’m offering, a story of how the business did financially.

This tells me something about the effectiveness and potency of the work I’m doing, and I care about that very much.

But it doesn’t tell me everything.There are the things the numbers can’t tell – that a blog post affected only a few people but in a very profound way, or that something that didn’t generate much revenue brought real emotional or spiritual sustenance to me or to those reached by it.

What are the numbers that loom large in your life: Weight? Age? Salary? Years or months that have passed since a particular event happened?

What numbers really do tell a story you want and need to know? What seem to tell a story but are really misleading?

Which just give your old fears or insecurities ammunition?

What numbers get you caught up in a mental game you really don’t need to be playing?

What other way of measuring could take their place?

And tell me in the comments: is there a number related to your life that you track and love tracking? And is there a number related to your life you choose to ignore or not know about?

Love,

Tara

p.s. Please don’t forget – for aspiring or current entrepreneurs, this year I’m helping to spread the word about Marie Forleo’s fabulous course for entrepreneurs. Get to know Marie through the latest video in her free training series HERE.

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A Conversation with Pamela Slim

PamSlim_1024x681_headshot 2

I’m delighted to bring to you today an interview with Pamela Slim.

Pamela Slim is an award-winning author, speaker and leader in the new
world of work. She spent the first 10 years of her solo practice as a
consultant to large corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, Charles
Schwab and Cisco Systems, where she worked with thousands of
employees, managers and executives. In 2005, she started the Escape
from Cubicle Nation blog, which is now one of the top career and
business sites on the web. She’s a  frequently quoted as a business
expert in press such as The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and
Psychology Today. She also describes herself as “a proud suburban mom
in Mesa, AZ who enjoys the look on people’s faces when she tells them
she is also a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts (it comes in handy when
fighting for the last good bunch of kale at the grocery store). She is
the author of the award winning book Escape from Cubicle Nation: From
Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur (Penguin Portfolio, 2009).
Her second book Body of Work,  (Penguin Portfolio, 2014) is newly
published!

In our conversation, we chat about:
-Pam’s story and the evolution of her career
-her new “body of work” model for thinking about your career, and why
it’s so helpful
-what Pam does when she experiences self-doubt
-some of her favorite lessons learned from mentors and dear friends
and much more!

Listen to Tara and Pamela Slim’s conversation via audio here

Download as Mp3 Interview with Pamela Slim

You can learn more from Pam, get her free articles, and check out Body
of Work HERE.

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one of my favorite resources for entrepreneurs

Today I’m writing to those of you who are currently entrepreneurs or who are thinking of (or dreaming of?) starting a business in the future.

I want to tell you about one of my favorite resources for entrepreneurs, an online course from powerhouse Marie Forleo. It’s called “B-school.”

I took the class. I loved it. I took it again. I’ve gifted it to dear friends. I’m a fan.

Here’s what the benefits of B-school were for me:

  • I grew my work’s reach significantly as a result of what I learned.
  • My time and energy went much further. If you already are an entrepreneur, I’m sure you, like me, work hard. The name of the game is figuring out which kinds of work are worth doing and which are waste. This course helped me figure that out.
  • I really enjoyed it. I was always excited to download the new materials and jump in because I was thoroughly entertained–all the way through
  • I met some people who are now among my closest friends – other dynamic, creative women entrepreneurs.
  • I was personally inspired by watching Marie do her thing – she’s a great model for doing a business in one’s own style, with all the quirks of her personality coming through.

So, I’m spreading the word about the course because I think it’s super helpful, and because I believe that entrepreneurship is one of the important ways women’s voices, perspectives, and creativity will come to the forefront of our culture in the 21st century.

If you check it out, decide its a fit for you, and sign up for B-School through my website, you’ll receive two benefits:

1. You’ll be supporting women entrepreneurs and activists in the developing world. I’ll receive a portion of the revenue from your purchase, 100% of which I’m donating to nonprofit organizations that support women entrepreneurs and activists in the developing world: Kiva.org and The Global Fund for Women.

2. You’ll have access to a series of two live calls I’ll be doing this spring  for women entrepreneurs. I’ll share some of my hard-won lessons learned along the way, and I will answer your questions about the behind the scenes of my business. Our focus will be on how to use business and marketing techniques wisely WITHOUT compromising your integrity or doing things that don’t feel like “you” along the way.

So, you get a fabulous training that will help you start or grow your business, access to some biz lessons-learned conversations with me, at the same time, we get to make a significant contribution to support  women around the world.

I LOVE this plan!

Click here to access some entrepreneurship training videos where you’ll get to know Marie and begin learning from her – for free. (These are super entertaining and informative.)

I’ll be writing again about the program when it is on sale later this month. If you also read about this program on other sites and click over to the Bschool website from those, please keep in mind that to get access to the calls with me and for the contribution to Kiva and The Global Fund to be made, you’ll need to click on a link again over here at www.taramohr.com when you sign up for the program itself later this month. After all, computers are smart but not that smart – they need to know how you were referred to the program and that you want to access these particular benefits!

Okey done – now go enjoy those videos!

Tara

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Before Breakfast

Last week, via a friend’s Facebook post, I came across this Inc. Magazine article, “12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast.

The article reflects a certain set of ideas that are dominant in our culture:

productivity = doing more
successful people = people with big titles and high powered careers
being more productive => being more happy

As I read the twelve tips in the article, I kept hearing responses to each one in my head. It sounded like this:

Inc Magazine says Successful People… I say Sane/Happy/Successful People…
They wake up early. They sleep in when they need it and don’t feel guilty about it.
They exercise before it falls off the to-do list. They notice when exercise feels like a burdensome item on a to-do list, and shift to a new form of movement that feels more fun.
They work on a top-priority business project. They work a personal, creative, spiritual or professional endeavor that fits well with how they feel in the mornings. Or sometimes, they don’t work at all because they know rest and work and savoring are all important.
They connect with their spouses.Says the article: “What could be better than pre-dawn sex to energize you for the day? After all, regular sex may make you smarter, boost your income, and burn calories.”   If they make love in the morning, it’s not because it will help them be more productive, but because it feels wonderful and connects them to someone they love.
They network over coffee. They pour high quality cream in their coffee. Then they drink it slowly.

 

They meditate to clear their minds. They meditate to cultivate equanimity and compassion, so that they cause less suffering to themselves and to other human beings.
They plan and strategize while they’re fresh. They know that their best work happens not when they plan and strategize, but when they let plans and strategies come to them, especially during idle times, like on a long walks and while soaking in the bath.
They read the news. They read what’s old. They turn to spiritual texts again and again to remember what’s been true for thousands of years, to gain insight into the fundamental human dynamics  going on behind all those stories in the news.

I suppose that during those times in one’s life when you are feeling like you just can’t get anything done, like your priorities don’t get your attention, like you are more sluggish than energetic, more lost than organized, productivity tips are really helpful. I’m glad they are out there for people during those times. But being productive is not the same as doing important work, and being productive won’t  care for our hearts, save our planet or buoy those we love.

Love,

Tara

 

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being awake

waves photo

One of the 5 reflection questions I offered to you for the new year, and that I’m thinking about for myself is:

What have you always believed about yourself that life is showing you might not be true?

I love this question. More precisely, I love these moments when we are able to see that something we’ve always believed about ourselves might not be true.

Those moments can be rare. Most of the time, what we believe about ourselves colors what we see in our life experience. If we believe we’re incompetent with numbers, that’s what we see play out in our life experience. If we believe we’re mediocre parents, that’s what we see evidence for. If we believe we “never get angry,” we see evidence for that. It’s the very nature of belief: it causes us to notice certain truths in the landscape of reality, and to be utterly blind to others.

So it’s very unusual that we truly see something in life that conflicts with our beliefs. It’s a kind of unique moment of confrontation with reality and of growth.

When it happens, it happens for one of two reasons. Sometimes, life confronts us with something that conflicts with our beliefs so clearly that we get hit over the head with the new truth. When that dramatic move from life (you thought you were x, but life is clearly giving you evidence you are y!) coincides with some meager measure of openness in us, we can see a new truth about ourselves.

But more often, and in fact in every moment, the truths about ourselves that life offers us are quieter, more subtle. To see those, we need to be looking at life, to have found a sliver of non-defensiveness in ourselves through which we’re able to see what life is really showing us. And we must be present enough to see what is happening in front of us right now – rather than seeing our old stories play out again and again as we project them onto the complex canvas of life.

How can we live awake like this, so that our lives are less and less a deadened re-run of old beliefs (re-runs are so boring) and more an alive unfolding in which we keep learning, growing, and staying fluid – fluid as life itself?

This is the same question as: how can I accelerate my growth? It is the same question as: how can my life get more interesting? How can it become a great adventure?

I think it begins with caring about that, with caring about being open to and present to life. We have to decide that we want to live in that way.

Then we do what it takes, which is moving slow enough — moving slow even in the midst of a busy day (it’s possible, it’s an inner move) — to pay attention to what is happening before us. Moving slow enough to reflect on what is happening. We move slow enough to notice what we are feeling and to follow the discomfort or exhileration or panic or sense of messiness that comes up when we are confronted with a truth about ourselves, positive or negative, that conflicts with what we believe.

And we have to nourish our hearts enough – with comfort and love from others and self-love – so that our hearts have room to be open to truths that may feel challenging and vulnerable when we first look at them. We have to have the emotional reserves to look.

When we do that, life becomes our teacher. Gentle, graceful, ever unfolding, complex. That infinitely pixelated canvas of life illuminates and no moment remains mundane.

Love,

Tara

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