Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

when people criticize my work

I recently had the most amazing experience with criticism.

But first, let me take you back to where I started from. I started out as a girl so damn afraid of criticism that the harsh words my English professors said during college (your short story just “doesn’t go anywhere”, your writing is “clunky”, and so on) were so wounding to me that I didn’t write for years after graduating. Years.

And then, over the past years, that changed. A first step was realizing that if I was going to write, I needed to write for myself–not for praise. A second step was getting used to people writing harsh comments about my work and realizing I was always going to get both praise and criticism. Thank you Huffington Post, for being a great bootcamp for getting used to that.

Another step was practicing, for years, the tool I now teach: interpreting feedback as telling me useful information about the person giving the feedback, not about myself.

It was not lost on me, of course, how ironic it was that I then was asked to write an essay about this topic for The New York Times. I had to deal with my own inner spaz about whether the world was going to praise my essay on unhooking from praise. Ha ha, universe, very funny.

What happened was just what I talked about in the article: all substantive work draws both positive and negative feedback. Lots of people loved the piece. I got tons of positive feedback. It was the #1 Most Emailed story of the week. And some people really didn’t like the essay. A few women journalists and bloggers wrote other articles, at popular sites, about what they felt was missing from it and wrong with it.

And here’s what was so amazing. I was honestly happy for those women. I really really was. I was happy for them because they were sharing what they felt had been unsaid about the issue, and they were actually  getting their voices out, and publishing, and I know so well how hard that is and how much courage it takes. I was also happy for them because they weren’t being bound by “nice-girl” norms that could have prevented them from vocally disagreeing, from writing a piece that was fundamentally a critique of another.

I felt like we were all sitting at a round table and I was sharing my point of view, and they theirs. I felt so free because as I wrote my essay, and afterward, I’d given myself permission to not address every possible objection, to not cover all my bases, so to speak. I didn’t ask myself to do that. I asked myself to stay firmly rooted in my subjective slice of the truth and share that. And our conversation as a collective is only whole if other people do the same. We live in a world of multiple truths, countless layers of the truth, different prisms on the truth. My job was not to say it all, it was to say my part.

As I felt my way through that strange experience of responding to the critical essays by having this new kind of “I’m so happy for you that you are getting your voice out there!” feeling, to my own surprise, the phrase that kept coming into my consciousness was “a kind of spiritual generosity.”

This was something I had never thought about before, that there is a spiritual generosity we can extend in welcoming, allowing other people’s criticism of our work, when that criticism is part of what it looks like for them to share their perspective. They would of course be “allowed” to do it no matter how I felt about it, but I believe somehow energetically it matters for them, and for me, that I welcome it and respect it.

Now, if that criticism had come in a conversation with me, maybe this would have been an entirely different experience for me, one that required different skills and different recovery, but in our virtual roundtable, so to speak, this was my experience.

And, at the same time, I protected my fragile artist-writer self. I skimmed their work – I didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t feel the need to form an opinion about it or to respond.

But I was, and am, genuinely happy that they were taking their seat at the table, and I mine.

How can you extend the spiritual generosity to others to more fully allow them their seat at the table – even if that entails criticism of your ideas?



Bay Area & Texas folks – please check out my upcoming events HERE! 

And get your copy of the Playing Big book HERE!

Good stuff + upcoming SF Bay Area events

Hi all!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks getting the Playing Big book into the world. I’ll share some reflections on the book tour soon, but for today – some links and some announcements about upcoming events.

My recent visit to the Today Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee – video here.

An interview about the book on Maria Shriver’s NBC.com site

My in-depth interview with Tami Simon on my favorite podcast, Insights at the Edge

My video chat with Kate Northrup

And, I have a few public events in the Bay Area coming up in the next couple weeks – see below. I would love to see you there! (Texans – I will also be at the Texas Conference for Women in Austin in November!)


Book Signings in SF Area

East West Bookstore Lecture & Book Signing
Saturday Oct 25, 2014 7:30pm PT
324 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94041
Call to reserve tickets: 650-988-9800

Speak To Me Book Talk & Signing
Oct 28, 2014 6:30 pm PT
Mill Valley Community Center
Cascade Room, 180 Camino Alto
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Impact Guild presents Playing Big by Tara Mohr Book Talk & Signing
Sunday, Nov 2, 2014 from 3:30 – 5:30pm PT
University Club of Palo Alto
3277 Miranda Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94304



“Luminous, deep, and practical. I’ve asked every woman in my all-woman company to put Playing Big first on their reading list. We want to make a difference in the world, we want to live full-on, and we know that our passion is powerful. We need this! Playing Big is like a torch that shows you where assumptions you’ve been holding could be holding you back — even if you think you’re using your power to the fullest.” – Danielle Laporte

I see so many women getting stuck because of this.

I see so many women getting stuck because of this: they are turning to their friends and family for feedback – on their ideas, their projects, their burgeoning dreams.

It’s natural. We’re thinking about something – a potential career change, a business idea, something we’d love to create. And next, some little voice in us wants to know: Is it a good idea? Am I crazy?

So we venture out – and we talk to the people closest to us – our friends and family – about whatever we are thinking about. That part inside of us that wants the bolstering, the affirmation, says, “So what do you think?”

And then it’s tough, because 1) a lot of the time they don’t get it, don’t like it, don’t think the idea is a good idea or 2) even if they do like it, have you noticed how their validation doesn’t really set you free to start taking action, it just makes you want to go get more emotional validation from others?

Here’s what I recommend. Do not go to your family and friends for feedback on whatever new idea/project/career move you are considering. What we get from friends and family is just too layered – full of their love for us, their desire for us to be safe, their own experiences, their own fears. (Are there exceptions to this? Yes, of course! But most of the time, making this shift does help us start moving forward towards our dreams more.)

Let dear friends and family play that incredibly powerful role that family and friends can play – in loving you, in cheering you on, in being there to commiserate with you when it is tough, to laugh about the crazy moments along the way. Go to friends and family for support – not for feedback.

For feedback – on whether the career move is viable, whether the potential business has a market, whether that title for your book is as compelling as you think it is – all that kind of stuff – go to the people you want to influence and reach with your work. If the book is for young adult women, ask a few of them what they think of the title! If the potential business would serve busy working families, get their feedback on the concept. Ask recruiters or hiring mangers in your desired field about how the career move you want to make could work.

Get feedback from the people you want to influence and serve – only they have the perspective to be able to give you accurate information on the feasibility of your idea.

This means, yes, you may have to the sometimes difficult thing of asking explicitly for what you want from family and friends, for example – “I’m super excited about this new business idea! I’m going to test it out with potential customers, but what I really would so appreciate is some cheerleading along the way here – I’ve never done something like this before and I’m kinda scared!”

This can be a little hard to do at first, but it is so good to get in the habit of having that conversation with friends, spouses and family members – to tell each other what you are looking for when you bring a topic with them. It’s good for you to get in the habit of asking them too “What are you looking for from me right now – advice, my personal opinion, or cheering you on/ emotional support?”

Got it? Go to family and friends for support. For feedback, go to the people you want to influence and serve through your work.

We talk about this and much more about feedback – how important it is, how not to get “hooked” by it, and how to get the right kind of feedback to further your dreams – in the Playing Big book!

I so want for you to experience the comprehensive journey to Playing Big that is in the book, so I hope you will join me in getting your copy today.

And if you’d like to spread the word about the book, I’d so appreciate it! Tweets, FB shares, pinnable images, and more goodies to make that easy for you are all HERE.

Love to you,


“At last. At last this very important book has been written, encouraging women to take up all the creative space they deserve in the world. I hope it will empower legions of women to step into their greatness. I couldn’t be happier about this publication.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love.


A Special Gift for Those You Love

One of the things that’s been most sweet for me this week is talking to women about the people they plan to give the Playing Big book to.

“I’m giving it to my niece.”
“I got one for my daughter-in-law.”
“I bought one for each woman on my team at work.”
“My dear friend and I are going to read this together.”

So much fun in sharing something you are excited about with another woman in your life – and then getting to talk about it! And so much beauty in how we are supporting one another in playing bigger.

So I thought I’d do something fun around that.

For today and tomorrow: when you order three or more copies of the book, I’ll send you signed bookplates, personalized to the woman you want to give them books to – with their names and a note.

You get a little holiday shopping done early – and you’ve got a great gift to give to some women you love.

Here’s how it works – forward your receipt to taramohr@taramohr.com and include 1) your mailing address and 2) the names you’d like inscribed in the books.

This little inscription shop closes at noon PST on Friday October 17th, so send us your receipt by then! Click here to get your copies from Amazon.com, or here from Barnes and Noble.com and here from Indiebound.com .



“At last. At last this very important book has been written, encouraging women to take up all the creative space they deserve in the world. I hope it will empower legions of women to step into their greatness. I couldn’t be happier about this publication.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love.


The book is officially out!

I’m in a gorgeous little hotel in New York City – a sanctuary of beauty and stunning design.

There’s a bookstore around the corner, a great bookstore – the kind that makes you grateful bookstores are part of civilization, the kind of bookstore that serves really good soup in its cafe, the kind that makes you want to wander and wander through every corner and read everything.

Today, I will be walking over to that bookstore to see my book, out in the wild.

Because today is the first day the book will be out on shelves in the world. Still trying to wrap my head around that.

It’s a busy day. I’ll be visiting Hoda and Kathie Lee this morning (you can tune in at 10:38am), then off to Levo League for a taping for their site, then to sit down with Jonathan Fields. Cuddles with my little guy in between (yes, of course he’s coming to the Today show!)

So today is the first day you can order the book with an easy click and get it shipped to you right away.

I’m so honored that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love, had this to say about the book:

“At last. At last this very important book has been written, encouraging women to take up all the creative space they deserve in the world. I hope it will empower legions of women to step into their greatness. I couldn’t be happier about this publication.”

May Playing Big be a companion and source of strength and transformational new ideas to you – the same way so many beloved books have been to me in my life. May it help you shine more of your light.

Click HERE to get the book!