Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Reminder: Calling All Women in Academia!


If you are a woman working in academia (or have some dear friends or family members who are), this note is for you.

Over the past few years, my team and I have been watching something quite notable happening in our work: tremendous adoption of the Playing Big model among women professors, academic advisors, and university staff and administrators.

These women have shared with us how the Playing Big model has helped them:

   • find their own authentic voice and path in their scholarship
   • take on new leadership roles at their institutions
   • mentor and advise in a much more effective way
   • thrive within what can be the very tough culture of academia
   • navigate decisions about pursing work outside of academia

… and much more!

I’m so thrilled about this. It’s personal for me: my own experiences with higher education gave me tremendous gifts, developing my mind, my knowledge, and my community. But my experiences in higher education also showed me the many ways our university cultures are often still male-dominated, and not at all what they could be as places that truly include women’s voices and ideas.

With all of this in mind, we have created some special offerings for women in academia for 2017 and beyond.

If you work in academia or higher education and are interested in learning more about our Playing Big professional development programs and our special cohort for women in academia, sign up HERE to learn more.

We’ll share program details with you as well as supporting materials you can share with your institution if you’d like to explore having your participation funded by them.

To learn more, sign up for our special Women in Academia Interest list HERE.



Tara & team


While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara




There is always the possibility
of reinvention

sometimes born of longing
sometimes offered faintly,
like birdsong in your ear

born of pain.

Life is long for a reason.
So that every chapter swells
with a new chapter of us,

so there is time to change
the meaning of your name
to everyone around you,
and especially
to you.

When the name that once meant
tired girl comes to mean
she who rose again,

art begins.

I met a woman
whose house burned down
and in the ashes
she found the blaze of her self.

Now it roars
still angry, sometimes uncontrolled,
always a blinding light.

If you see her on the street,
bow to her courage.
Stare back into her flickering animal eyes,
and know, she is fighting a fight.

-Tara Sophia Mohr

P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program in the coming year, be sure to check out our recent post about what’s coming up in 2017 HERE, so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you are interested in.


Writings at Harvard Business Review


Good morning!

Over the past few years, I’ve had the honor of writing some pieces at Harvard Business Review, and today, while I’m busy taking care of a newborn, I thought I’d share a few of those from the archive:

1. If you are managing, mentoring, or parenting someone dealing with a harsh inner critic, check out this article, on Helping an Employee Overcome Their Self-Doubt. It’s about the common mistakes we make when trying to help others become more confident, and what to do instead.

2. For some insight into why so often women don’t go for those leaps, promotions or stretch assignments, check out Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified. I did some original research for this article, surveying hundreds of female and male professionals about their thinking around job applications, and discovered that the reasons for the gender disparities aren’t what the experts had previously assumed.

3. For aha moments into how the behaviors you got really good at in school could be getting in the way of your playing big, check out my piece co-written with Whitney Johnson, Women Need to Realize Work Isn’t School. Pair this with my School to Work downloadable guide, here.

4. If you want to listen to something by audio to support your playing bigger, check out my podcast interview on the HBR Idea Cast.



P.S. I was so energized by my recent conversation with Peter Bregman on his Bregman Leadership Podcast. When I get to speak with a wholehearted, fully present interviewer who is on their own journey and happy to talk about it, it’s inspiring. And of course, it’s also always so great to hear from men who are really resonating with the Playing Big material! Have a listen ​here. I hope you’ll check out his other episodes, too – lots of great guests.

Expect To Be A Revolutionary

While I’m caring for my new baby, I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past few years. This is one of them – enjoy!   ~ Tara



If the angels could have sat you down for a chat when you were on the way in to this life (among some other comments about love, fear, and your glory), they might have said this:

“Now, my dear, a little context: you are entering into a transitional time.

The past: A world led, designed and defined by men.
The future: A world led, designed and defined by women and men.
The present: The transition. Yes, we’ve put you on the transition team.

What’s so tricky to understand, dear one, is that as a woman of this transitional time, what is inside of you will be very different from what is outside of you. What you have to bring into the world will be very different from what you see before you as the status quo of the world. Yet what you have to bring forth is not crazy or wrong. In fact, it’s just what the world needs.

It’s as if the world is all purple and you — and your sisters — are going to bring in the yellow. Or as if it’s blue and you are going to bring in the red.

That means that whether you signed up for it or not, you will be a revolutionary. You will be a revolutionary whether you love that idea or whether you’d prefer to just do your thing quietly – to be a teacher, a nurse, a doctor, a businesswoman, an artist, a mom, a grandmother, a volunteer, an entrepreneur.

You will be a revolutionary because any woman who is being authentic in her work will bring forth ideas and ways of working that run counter to the status quo of her company, industry, community – a status quo defined by masculine values and masculine ways of working.

The angels might have added this: “So if you ever start to doubt or hold back or silence yourself because the questions you have, the ideas in your mind, or the way you work are so different from the status quo, remember that difference is exactly what is meant to be. You are here to bring forth a different way.”

It’s the hard – and thrilling – work you get to do this time around. It’s the “women’s work” of our particular moment in history.

You don’t have to do the whole work, but you are asked to do the slice of that work that has been given to you.

Now, before you exclaim that you just don’t know what that slice is, or panic because you don’t have time or bandwidth for anything extra, let’s remember: this isn’t work that takes additional time. This is work about how you live each moment of your life.

And this isn’t work you have to go find or discover. It’s the work that is right in front of you, in the ways you feel called to speak, to act, to reinvent, to heal – in the imperfect, messy situations you find yourself in right now. Your piece of the work is already whispering to you – if not talking to you loudly yet. It’s the ideas in your mind and heart right now.

You are only asked to not stop up those things in you that most want to be expressed. If you let them flow forth, you will have done your revolutionary work, and you will have done it beautifully.

You don’t need to do it alone, though sometimes you might feel like you are alone. You walk on this path with a world of women who are surviving on the rocky ground of this world while also changing it to a richer, healthier soil. If you look for it, you will start to see all around you this shared path of the women in your midst, each working to bring forth a different way to some aspect of the world.

Know this: you are blessed in this work. Every step of the path you walk in this work has been blessed and blessed and blessed again before you traverse it. The angels are giddy, for they love love, and they can see the world that you are enabling to come into being.




A thousand times before, reprise

While getting ready to take a break from work as baby #2 comes into the world, I remembered this post I wrote a couple of years ago about baby #1’s arrival and I wanted to share it again, with some updated thoughts …

Love to you,


Taking Inventory

I have always been afraid of giving birth. I was afraid of it before I became pregnant. I was afraid during my pregnancy. And I was very afraid.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who was competent in the realms of the mind and the heart but not so competent in the realm of the body. I saw labor as part of that physical realm — the ultimate challenge of corporeal endurance, courage, and acumen, something that other women (athletes, mountain climbers) could cope well with, but not me. I really believed I somehow couldn’t do it.

Over the course of the pregnancy, the fear diminished a little. It got better because I talked about it and listened to friends’ labor stories. I trained in labor breathing techniques and that helped me feel a little more secure.

By the end of my forty-week term, I was less afraid but still afraid, still feeling that labor was something that other women could pull off but that I, for sure, could not.

Needless to say, it’s pretty stressful to get to the end of a pregnancy feeling that way.

I was sitting on my purple yoga mat at the pregnant-lady-yoga-class I’d been attending for months. I had come to have tremendous admiration and respect for the teacher. She was a midwife and had delivered hundreds of babies. She’d raised two of her own. Her pre- and post-natal yoga classes are institutions in San Francisco that sell out with a long waiting list (and people come and stand in line) every week. She’s extremely knowledgeable, caring, super outgoing, and hilarious.

I always got a little flustered and quiet around her because I was so impressed by her and her ease in her own skin.

On this particular day, while we were all in our poses, she stopped by my mat. Quietly she said to me, “Is this your first baby, Tara?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I can’t believe that,” she said. “It just seems like you’ve done this a thousand times before.”

I was immediately blushing, and on cloud nine.

And then I had the graced and blessed thought, “Tara, you can act as if that’s true.”

Suddenly, then and there, I decided I had done labor a thousand times before.

The minute I thought that, I found a part of myself who had done it a thousand times before. It was like she raised her hand and said, “Here I am.”

I can’t tell you what part of me that was. Perhaps it was the part that is connected to every other woman on earth. Perhaps it’s a part of me that is older than my thirty-some years, a part that has, in other times, given birth.

That part was right there to say, “Yes, you have done this before.”

For the next few days, I kept feeling what became a soft, energizing, accessible sense of, “You’ve done labor a thousand times before. This isn’t new to you at all. You aren’t a beginner, you’re old hat at this.”

It was the precise opposite of how I’d ever thought of myself in relationship to labor.

That was my last pre-natal yoga class. Two days later, contractions began. And it turned out, yes, I could do labor, and did. All through the experience, I called on the part of me that had done it many times before.

If there is something in your life you feel lost about – maybe you feel like a novice, or like you have no idea what you are doing, maybe it’s labor or marriage or shepherding a loved one through the end of life, or maybe it’s something in your work or creative life – find the part of yourself that’s done it a thousand times before, the part of you that is bigger than your body and older than your life. If you are looking for a way forward in these challenging political times, remember this is not (in fact) the first time your cells have done what they are now being asked to do.

Sometimes, finding the part of you that has done this a thousand times before is as simple as remembering she is there, calling on her, feeling around inside for her.

When you let her lead, I learned, she’ll take you where you need to go.



P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program in the coming year, be sure to check out our recent post about what’s coming up in 2017 HERE, so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you are interested in.