Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

a question to ask yourself today

Often, when I’m working with women to help them manage their inner critics, they’ll say back to me: “But that mean voice is not my inner critic. That’s just me. That’s just how I sound as I’m thinking thoughts in my head. I’m a very critical, hard-on-myself person. I don’t think I can change that.”

I firmly believe that we are not our inner critics, that the inner critic voice is one strand of us, a fear-based strand that is not the core of who we are.

One way to think of it is this: most of us hear our inner critic thoughts in this form, “You aren’t good at that” or “You aren’t ready” or “If you do that, people will realize you don’t know what you are talking about.”

In all those statements, notice that there is a speaker and then a “you” that the speaker is addressing.

So here’s the question: who is the “you” that is listening to that critical voice? Who is the critic talking to?

If you were your critic, there would be no separate you for the critic to address its remarks to.

When the inner critic arises, there’s a speaker in us, and a listener. There’s a voice proclaiming the judgements and a voice listening to them and reacting to them – usually shrinking or getting nervous in response.

In all situations, listeners have power. They have power to believe what they hear, or question it. They have power to listen attentively, or not. They have power to listen with compassion or with defensiveness. The same is true when we are listening to the voice of the inner critic.

When we hear the voice of self-doubt, we can listen to the voice without believing it to be speaking the truth. We can even – in some moments – listen to the voice of self-doubt with great compassion for its panicky underlying fears.

Today,any time you hear a little rumble of self-criticism, whether about that email you are trying to write or your mothering or the size and shape of your upper arms, I invite you to ask yourself: Who is the “me” that is listening to the voice of self-doubt?

It’s not a question we can answer in words, at least not in my experience. But it is a question that helps us step out of the spinning. And sometimes, it takes us right into a rich silence – an opening into something much more.

Who is the “me” that is listening to the voice of self-doubt?




Last Day to Register + What You’ll Learn

Playing Big

Good morning!

Today is the last day that registration will be open for my Playing Big course. I want to dive in and share in more detail what you’ll learn in the program.

Quieting the Inner Critic

You’ll understand how the inner critic skillfully functions in your life (whether in the domains of career, body image, parenting, romantic relationships, finances, or your creative life). Most important, you’ll learn what to do in the moment when self-doubt arises, to ensure that it doesn’t hold you back. Just imagine for a moment – really imagine – what you’d be doing if that voice of “I’m not ready yet,” or “I need to get a PhD in that topic before I can do that,” or “I don’t really know what I’m talking about here,” wasn’t present anymore?

Unhooking from Praise and Criticism

After this module, you’ll be a lot less dependent on praise, and a lot more comfortable with criticism and potential criticism. This frees us to speak up, share our ideas, be controversial when it’s needed, and in doing all that, make positive change. You’ll also come away with a new and liberating approach to giving and receiving feedback. On a day to day level, this means being able to take the feedback that comes all the time (from colleagues, bosses, clients, customers) in stride, and not as an emotional roller coaster.

Your Callings

This is one of my favorite modules to teach, because we have so many misunderstandings around the concept of callings. And yet, with some simple ideas and tools, women can start experiencing the huge joy and fulfillment that our true callings bring us. If you aren’t sure what your callings are, this module will give you a very specific way to figure that out, with coaching from me to help if you get stuck. If you feel like you already know what your current callings are, this module will provide you with tools to fulfill them in even more satisfying and bold ways.

The End of Hiding

In my work with women, I started to see some very clear patterns in the ways brilliant women were hiding and stalling on our playing bigger. These hiding strategies weren’t obvious. In fact they often looked, from a distance, like really great career moves. In this module, you’ll discover some of the unconscious ways you are hiding and understand how to start stepping forward instead.

Leaping: The Art of Imperfect Action

Most women I know hold some false assumptions like these: that the more they prepare for something important, the better that something will go. That the more polished their work is, the more favorably it will be received. The thing is, many of these assumptions are misleading, and are connected to how women and girls are conditioned to act – in ways that don’t serve us. In this module, we’ll take a rigorous look at our default good-girl, good-student ways of working and discover a bolder, quicker, more experimental way of working called leaping. Leaping gets us playing much bigger right away.

Navigating Negotiations and Difficult Conversations

Do you dread negotiation conversations, feel like you aren’t a great negotiator, or simply know you could be a much better one? In this module, I share a powerful framework that can help you love and thrive in negotiations and difficult conversations. (It really is possible.) A negotiation is not just the kind of conversation that happens once a year over your salary, or your rent. In playing big, we explore negotiations as any conversation in which the parties have differing goals and interests. Negotiation is a skill we all need for our careers – and lives -every day, but because of stereotypes and cultural norms, negotiating is tricky territory for women. In Playing Big, you’ll learn a positive, collaborative, step-by-step framework for negotiations and have the opportunity to apply it to an important situation in your life, with coaching and support from me and from our guest expert on women & negotiation.

Communicating with Power

In this module, you’ll learn how you can come across as more competent, compelling and confident in your written and spoken communications. You’ll learn about important new research on gender and communication in the workplace, and what it means for you. We cover what speech and writing habits to let go of, and what new language you can use instead.  I’ll also support you in a day-by-day habit change process, so that your communication is truly more powerful by the time this module comes to a close.

Playing Big while Caregiving

I’m the mother of an active toddler, and am also involved caring for my aging parents. The past few years have been a deep dive for me into the dance of pursuing my aspirations, while at the same time, showing up in the ways I want to for those I love. In this module, we’ll look closely (and realistically!) at how you can weave together caregiving and playing big.

Let It Be Easy

We’ve all been there: we tried to accomplish something simply out of willpower and self-discipline, failed to do so, and then ended up disappointed in ourselves. This module is about alternatives to self-discipline. I’ll take you through setting up a “success architecture” of supports and routines that allows you to achieve any goal in a sustainable, kind-to-yourself-way.

Those are just some of our modules (you can review the full curriculum HERE), but I hope this gives you a sense of some of the ways your work and life will be different after Playing Big.

Registration closes at midnight tonight! Come on over here to learn more, hear what grads have to say, and get your spot!



Can You Picture It?

Playing Big

Good morning!

Hope this finds you well. I’ve been feeling so energized these past couple weeks as I work on creating a fabulous experience for the women from around the world who are signing up to be a part of my upcoming Playing Big course.

For the next few days, I’ll be sharing more about the Playing Big program. If you know it’s not a fit for you at this time, please tune back in to the newsletter late next week, when I’ll be publishing my regular blog articles again.

But if you are exploring whether the Playing Big program is a fit for you, please check out what I share below, and in Monday’s email – both will be packed with information to help you discern if Playing Big is right for you at this time.

On that note, today I’d like to share with you a bit about how the Playing Big course works. Sometimes women find it hard to envision how an experience like the Playing Big course actually works, day to day – especially if you haven’t been part of an online course before.

Here are the guiding principles I had in mind when I designed the format of the program:

Community.  When I was taking major steps toward my own playing bigger, being connected to other women who were also on that path – discovering or following their callings, speaking up more – really helped me. I realized that, dear as my friends and family were to me, I needed a slightly different community than what I already had. I designed playing big as a group program because I see again and again that women start playing bigger with the greatest ease, speed and momentum when they are connected to other women on parallel journeys.

Practical & Experiential.  This program is practical, and the curriculum keeps you regularly applying the new concepts and tools. I designed this as a longer experience so that you’d have time to implement what you learn. For example, you won’t just learn information about how you can communicate more powerfully. You’ll get structured guidance from me for day-to-day practices for developing new communication habits over the two-week period that we are diving into that topic. That’s how change really happens – supported, repeated, small but meaningful actions.

Flexible.  Playing Big is flexible, so you can fit it into your busy schedule, whether that means listening on a commute or doing a quick practice while waiting in the school parking lot. Though there is a logical order to the modules, if you need to skip a module during a busy time, you can absolutely jump in with us in the next module and return to what you missed much later when you have time.

Only the most powerful and effective tools. I’ve spent so much time working with women around their playing bigger. Over the years, I’ve seen what doesn’t really work, what only works for some women, or what usually gets so-so results. Everything in the Playing Big program is there because it consistently brings about remarkable results for diverse women. You are getting the most powerful and effective material only.

With that context, here are the nuts and bolts of how the program works:

  • We have a lovely course website for participants only, where you can access all the materials.
  • Every two weeks, we start a new module on a rich topic like “Discovering Your Inner Mentor,” “Unhooking from Praise and Criticism” or “Getting Wise About Fear.”
  • We have a 90-minute call together (as in, you pick up the phone and dial in) with teaching from me, Q&A, and exercises that get you living the learning right away. You can attend our calls LIVE, or you can listen to an audio recording. Each year, tons of women do each option and both groups are super satisfied with the course.
  • In addition to the call, there are readings, worksheets, and other supplementary materials for each topic.
  • If you want a smaller group experience, you can join an optional small group with a few other women in the course. I provide small group meeting agendas that help you go deeper with each topic.
  • We have an online discussion forum where women share about successes and learnings, and where we all keep the conversation going together between our calls.

I love what Jodi had to say about how it all fits together…

“This Playing Big thing is amazing! … and unsettling, too! Here’s the thing, I listen to the calls, do the handouts, and listen to the recordings (many times!) — I think I’m getting it, I feel like I’m getting it. So I go about my day. And then I have a moment in my day when I {know} I’m getting it. And I realize that I am that girl that I have been trying to be. I am leaning into the better part of myself. O. M. G.” 

~ Jodi Riddick, Playing Big Alumna

Registration is open for just a few more days, so if you think Playing Big might be a good fit for you, come on over and visit here to learn more and get your spot! 


The Foundation of Playing Big

Playing Big

You may have heard that the new session of my Playing Big course for women is coming up. It’s a powerful, 6-month learning experience that you can participate in from anywhere around the world. Today, I want to tell you more about how it came to be.

When I first opened up my coaching practice, I worked with women clients who had a wide variety of career challenges.

Some felt bored or unfulfilled in their current work, and wanted to find their way to a better fit role within their current organization or industry. Others wanted to leave their jobs and launch businesses. Others were entrepreneurs who wanted to have a greater reach – or more ease – in their businesses. Others were simply frustrated with how self-doubt or fear was holding them back.

Since their challenges were very different, you might think that the work I did with them was very different.

It wasn’t.

I quickly learned that the same set of tools and principles made a transformative impact for these women.

The same tools helped one woman pitch a new role for herself to the CEO of her company (who she’d never had the courage to so much as meet with before), and helped a different woman publish her first blog post.

And the same set of tools helped another client move out of confusion about what she wanted, and find a surprising, exciting vision for the next stage of her career – a vision she went on to pursue with joy and with great results.

And here was the amazing part: the tools were learnable. Very learnable.

Over time I discovered that the same tools worked for diverse women because they offered a kind of foundation, a kind of inner basic toolkit, for our playing big. Those powerful tools became the core of the work I do.

If you’ve been reading my work for a while, you know I’m into blending. I write for Harvard Business Review…and for Spirituality and Health. I have an MBA and I’m a poet. I believe in the power of critical thinking and dreaming, structure and exploration, education and trusting what we know intuitively.

The Playing Big curriculum reflects that blend. Some things you’ll learn are culled from the most interesting research on leadership, gender, and psychology. Some things you’ll learn are from contemplative wisdom texts. Some things you’ll learn are lessons from my own journey to playing bigger – from doing work I didn’t love, from being afraid to put pen to paper, to following my own dreams to write, create, and do work I love. And some things you’ll learn are drawn from the patterns I’ve seen in my work helping diverse women actualize their dreams.

If you want to learn more about the program and get your spot, I invite you to come on over and read more about the course HERE. I hope you’ll join us!

With love,


My Playing Big Journey, Part 2

This week, I’m telling the story of my Playing Big journey. If you didn’t catch it earlier, you can read Part 1 here.

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Thanksgiving 2008, I wrote my very first blog post. It was written on a free template site I’d set up in a few minutes. It was a blog that had no readers, no subscribers.

What did I think I was doing at that time?

I knew I had always loved to write.

I knew that in my heart of hearts, if I really got honest about it, I did want to write about personal growth, psychology, spirituality – even as the Ivy League grad and Stanford MBA voice in me thought that sounded at best unconventional and at worst, really flakey and possibly embarrassing.

I also knew that even if I could get past those worries, I’d be rather stuck, because I’d lost my writing muscles.

In the third grade, my best friend Judy and I decided we’d write a poetry book. We got together week after week and wrote poems about lemonade, jump rope, our parents, our pets. We weren’t worried about whether the poems were good or not. That had nothing to do with it.

That was the way writing began for me – imaginative, playful, giddy even. But over the years in school, I learned that there was such a thing as a good writer, or a less good writer. I got A’s on papers. People told me I was a great writer. I won some writing awards.

But then other times things didn’t go that well. Sometimes I entered a writing contest and didn’t make it past the first round. Sometimes a particular teacher didn’t like my writing and gave me a grade that stung. I didn’t have any grown ups in my life who really knew how to explain that part to me.

So I wondered, “Was I okay at this or not? Was I ‘good’? Was what I had to say something people liked, or not?”

You can guess what happened next. Once those questions take center stage, it’s the end of any creative pursuit.

I went off to college where writing workshops involved not only the teacher but all the other students marking up your work with red pen and telling you what they did and didn’t think worked about it – and well – my fragile, little artist self didn’t have the thick skin for it. She went packing.

I lost writing. I took what I call “a seven year sabbatical from writing, sponsored by my inner critic.”

But seven years into it, the frozen feeling started to get really painful. There was that inner voice that began saying to me, “Write, write.”

I said back, “No, I’m taking a coaching training program right now, and I have a full time job. I’m going to focus on those things.”

And it said, quite clearly, “Write, just write.”

I finally listened. I sat down to write.

The words didn’t come.

The white, blank Word document was just very white, and very blank.

I would write a few lines and reread them. I always hated them. They were clunky, stilted.

I struggled like that for weeks, sitting down at the laptop and writing in a slow, plodding, utterly flow-less way. Then I’d read what I’d just written and cringe.

I would imagine other people reading it – the novelist friend or my husband or my old writing seminar professors. I’d hear them saying it was cheesy. I’d hear them saying, “Um, yeah, nice try, dear.”

But one day, I had an entirely new thought. It sounded like this,

“Tara, if you are going to write, you are going to have to write for yourself. You are going to have to set aside this whole thing about what anyone else thinks.

You might even have to set aside what you think about your writing.

You are going to have to write not to produce something ‘good,’ but because you are a woman who loves writing. That’s your reason to write, because it’s you, honey. This is for you.”

That day, I could write, and the words came easier. Topics to write about came easier. That day, I wrote for me. And to this day, that is why I write. Because life gave other people a love for running or singing or working with numbers, and it planted in me a love for this.

Sometimes, playing big is simply taking back who we are and what we love.

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I would love to support you in playing big, also.  My Playing Big course is now open for registration! I hope you’ll join us for this incredible experience that can help you start playing bigger in just the ways you want to. Come learn more about it here.