Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

A simple way to get more of what you want in important conversations

Good morning!

I’m writing from New York City today – I’m here with my family for a couple of weeks, in conjunction with the paperback release of Playing Big. I am enraptured by this city as always.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend. She was recounting the latest chapter in her extended family’s ongoing drama (think: sibling rivalries, slammed doors at holiday gatherings, and so on).

When she finished relaying the recent events, I started to give her my opinion on one aspect of the situation.

“You know, hon?” she said, “I think I just want to talk through what happened – I don’t have space to think about what to do about it yet.”

“Got it,” I said.

I felt a little embarrassed, for a moment, that I’d thrown an unwanted opinion at her. But mostly, I felt grateful 1) that she knew what she wanted from our conversation and 2) that she had the courage to tell me.

What was happening in that moment was a short meta-conversation .

A meta-conversation is a discussion about the kind of conversation you want to have (and the kind you don’t want to have). It’s a way of setting parameters and intentions for the conversation. Most of us never get the memo on meta-conversations which is, namely: have them!!

In last week’s post, we explored six different kind of conversation you might want to have, and talked about why it can be helpful to clarify what kind of conversation you are having. A meta-conversation is how you do that.

Like my friend did, in a meta-conversation, you can share with someone what kind of support you’d like, or what kind you wouldn’t like.

You might say, “I’d love for you to help me sort through what I’m really thinking about this. I’m just not clear on what I really think and feel about it.”

Or “I’m not sure what happened in this situation, and I’d love an outside perspective. Can you give me your sense of what’s going on here?”

Are you noticing there’s an interesting step that has to come first, before you say that.

You have to know what kind of support you want! A lot of us have no practice at discerning this. But it’s pretty simple to get going with. You simply pause, turn your attention inward for a moment, and ask yourself “What kind of support do I want here? What do I need for my next step in processing this?”

And then you ask for that kind of conversation.

Of course, not every conversation needs a meta-conversation. And of course, sometimes we get a different kind of support from someone than we wanted and it’s super helpful, but far more often, we each do have some wise sense of what we need, emotionally, around what we’re sharing about. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with all the other kinds of support another person could give us, it’s just that those other kinds don’t necessarily soothe what needs to be soothed in us, or supply what is lacking.

On the other side of things, when a friend comes to you sharing a difficult situation in her life, you can always initiate the meta-conversation. Ask her, “What kind of support do you want from me in this conversation – just listening, or my advice, or something else?” Then you can show up with the kind of support she’s most craving.

Did you have a meta-conversation recently? How did it go? If not, in what situations can you start to use them?

Love to you,

Tara



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I’ve been busy…

Good morning!

I’ve been quite busy the past few weeks, sharing the messages of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead , now that the paperback is out in the world.

There’s a lot to love about bringing a paperback edition into the world. I’ve lived with the messages of the book for a long time now and feel so at home talking about them. There’s not the same rush and time-crunch as with a hardback book launch, which means we can take more time to talk to specific communities and audiences. And the tremendous growth of podcasting has made it possible for me to have many more in-depth, long-form conversations with hosts about the messages in the book.

Here are a few of those recent podcast interviews, all on great shows that I’m excited to introduce you to, if you don’t know about them already. If you are looking for some inspiration around your playing bigger, these interviews about the big ideas from the book can help!

Harvard Business Review Ideacast

Being Boss: A Podcast for Creative Entrepreneurs

The Lively Show with Jess Lively: Add A Little Extra Intention to Your Life Everyday

Zen Parenting Radio

I also had a blast filming an episode of the Home & Family talk show. We talked about how and why women sometimes undermine themselves with their words, and how that’s different than intentionally “softening” what you have to say.
Home and Family Hallmark Channel-2016

I also want to let you know about a couple upcoming, public speaking events I’ll be doing this spring.

Upcoming Speaking Events

March 5-6, Woven Web Summit (San Francisco, CA)

April 21, Watermark Conference for Women (San Jose, CA)

Beyond that, I’m continuing to roast veggies, make (and then drink) great coffee, squeeze in a date night with the hubs here and there, hang out with my wondrous little guy and marvel at his existence. And I’m seriously craving the time to dig into my next book project. Can’t wait for that.

Love to you –

Tara


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6 Kinds of Conversations

Lately, I’ve been thinking about conversations, and particularly, the therapeutic use of them in my life.

When I’m sad, angry, irritated, confused, I know it’s time for me to do some work to process how I’m feeling — to let the feelings be felt, so that I can unearth what they have to tell me, and then move forward.

I have a trifecta of tools I use to do that – three powerful modalities that assist me: writing, talking, and prayer. In other words, sometimes, I choose to write out what I’m feeling. Sometimes I choose to pray about it, turning the situation and my feelings over to something much greater than me, and asking for guidance, clarity, help. And often, I work through what’s going on by talking about it with a friend.

Today, I wanted to dive into that – how we can help each other work through difficult situations through conversation.

One of the places we get into the most trouble in important conversations with loved ones is in confusion about what kind of conversation we’re having. Maybe you just wanted someone to listen to you with love, but instead you got an advice lecture. Or maybe you were dying to hear your friend’s honest perspective, but she didn’t want to be intrusive, so instead just said a bunch of empathetic, “I’m so sorry’s!” and, “That sounds so hard.”

Today, I want to share six “reasons for telling,” six different reasons we might want to share about a difficult situation with a friend or a loved one.

Use this list to help you discern what you want from a specific conversation. Knowing what kind of support you want in a conversation, and communicating that, is one way to take really great care of yourself.

You can also use this list as a listener, to remember the different ways you can be of support in a conversation, and to ask for clarification from the speaker about what they are looking for.

6 Reasons for Telling-TM

Six Reasons for Telling

1. To discover what you think and feel. Talking to a patient listener whom we love and trust, we often make surprising and important discoveries about how we really feel. “This is what really hurts about what happened.” “You know? As I’m talking I’m realizing, my real fear here is this …” Or “Gosh, this feels so familiar. I think this is connected to how I used to feel with my family.” It’s in the unfolding, the unpacking, the unraveling of the knots of thoughts and feelings that we can bring each into the light and discover what’s truly going on for us.

2. To laugh about it. I do this one so much with my friends that sometimes now, even in the midst of something challenging happening, I have the thought, “I can’t wait to tell x about this so we can laugh about it.” Situations that can feel so irritating, or out of control in the moment, can become absurd and hilarious when related to a dear friend. Laughter is therapeutic, and shared laughter over what challenges us is incredibly healing.

3. To not feel alone. We share to hear, “Oh I’m so sorry that happened to you.” Or, “That is appalling. I can’t believe she did that! I’m sorry honey.” Empathy, validation, solidarity, love. When we don’t feel so loved by life, or when circumstances are hard, it helps to hear from others that they don’t want us to hurt or suffer, that we are not alone. We get a little more stamina for the journey ahead. We’re buoyed up by others’ love for us.

4. To gain clarity by hearing your feelings reflected back to you. Sometimes, we don’t quite know how we feel, even as we talk about something. But a good listener can reflect back to us what they are hearing: “It sounds like you had some expectations and you’re feeling disappointed.” “I know you’re saying you are angry, but I’m also hearing that you are really scared.” If their assessment is right, we feel heard. We get clarity. But even if they are wrong, their wrong assessment will help us discover what we are really feeling. The other person might say, “It sounds to me like you just want to make a decision on this.” “No, that’s not quite it,” you might say, “I think it’s more that I want to better tolerate this time of uncertainty.” Together, through the back and forth, you can uncover what’s true for you.

5. To get outside your own perspective, and hear someone else’s. We’re all familiar with this one – because it’s quite overused in our culture. We share because we want to hear what someone else thinks about the situation, what they would advise us to do, what they think is right. This can be wonderfully valuable – if we have advisors we admire and trust – and if we know how to discern what advice resonates for us and what advice isn’t really right for us.

6. To use the difficult situation for our own growth. This is where things get magical. When we share about a difficult situation in our lives, not just to vent, not just to clarify how we are feeling, and not even just to get support, but then to consider with someone else: what is this situation really about, in terms of the learning curriculum life is giving me? How does this situation offer me an opportunity to leave behind an old pattern, heal an old wound, be better to others or myself in some particular way than I’ve been before? This is where we get to spin our challenges into the gold of our evolution. In this kind of conversation, it’s the friend that might help us turn away from blaming or feeling attacked, and uncover the higher purpose for which the situation can be used.

To make this practical:

1. The next time someone in your life comes to you with a problem or difficult situation (a mentee, a team member at work, a child or other family member, or a friend), ask them, “What kind of support would you like from me here?” Give them some ideas if they aren’t sure what you mean – “Just listening, or advice, or helping you unpack what you want here?”

2. Think of one situation in your life right now that you’d like to talk over with a dear friend or loved one. What kind of support do you want from them around it? Clarify this for yourself and ask for it.

Let me know how it goes.

Love,

Tara

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on self-doubt

Earlier this week, I heard one of those things that stopped me in my tracks, and immediately made me think: That’s important. That’s helpful. I want to share that with my tribe.

I was talking with a remarkable woman who is the founder and CEO of one of the U.S.’s largest women-owned companies. She said, “I think that for anyone in any type of leadership position, if they don’t have doubts and question what they are doing, they aren’t doing a good job.”

I’d heard that kind of thing before, but this time, I heard it in a new way.

As she spoke more, I got the sense of her continually being in a space of inquiry about her company’s direction, strategic choices, and more. She was asking in an ongoing way, are we on the right path? What might we not be noticing in terms of opportunities or obstacles coming up?

But here’s what’s really captivated me: I could hear in her voice that she did all that “doubting” without a shred of self-doubt. She embraced doubt about the decisions made, the directions being pursued, the assumptions being held about the market and her customers, but didn’t think that having those doubts meant she wasn’t a capable leader.

In fact, she saw doubting as a necessary behavior for effective leaders. So if anything, it strengthened her confidence in herself as a leader.

Listening to her, I understood this: if you are awake to your work, you’ll be confronted with a lot of decisions where there is not – or not yet – a clear right answer. If you are a teacher, you’ll be doubting whether certain things about your teaching are really working, and looking for better solutions. If you are a manager, you’ll be doubting whether your approach is as empowering as it could be for your people, and exploring what could be. If you are an entrepreneur, you’ll be asking big questions about what your customers really want, and what they want at a deeper level underneath that.

But doubt about the work doesn’t have to turn into self-doubt.

Doubt vs Self-Doubt

The problem for so many of us is that we think that our uncertainty about whether we’re doing right, or as well as we could, means that we aren’t the right person to do the work – to create, innovate, lead, teach, write – whatever it is we are doing. We don’t tell ourselves the very empowering story that this CEO was telling herself: that the right kind of leader continually questions and doubts, looks critically, and stays open.

I picture it like two tracks that crisscross each other here and there along the way: on one, you are doing your day to day work – delivering your product or service into the world. On the other track – probably the one you move onto when you’re on a walk, or in the shower, or on a long drive home – you reflect on that work. You think on the questions about what the right strategy is, what would best serve the people you want to serve, and how to really meet the need in the world that you want to meet. Yes, you doubt, yet you also know that thoughtful consideration of what’s unclear, what’s uncertain, is simply part of doing the job well.

Love,

Tara

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The Playing Big Paperback!

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I’m so, so excited to share with you today the beautiful new paperback version of Playing Big, just released into the world.

I love the beautiful cover on this new version. I adore our new subtitle, “Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead.

I’m also honored by the beautiful words Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about the book which grace the paperback cover.

And last but not least, I love that this version is a bit smaller in size (but with all the content of course!) and lighter weight than the original, so it’s easy to tote around and to hold in your hands to read.

For the next few months, I’ll be sharing a whole lot about the book in the world. There’s something just wonderful about a paperback launch. I’m more steeped in the material, I have more distance on the writing process, and there isn’t some of the rush of a concentrated publicity period that happens with an original hardcover release. So we can take our time talking with incredible interviewers, journalists, women’s groups, companies, school communities and more about the messages in the book.

I hope you’ll pick up your copy and maybe one or two for special people in your life, too.

You can buy the book here at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, IndieBound, BAM!, or your local bookstore.

With love and gratitude,

Tara