Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Wish you felt more confident?

I certainly have, many times.

But now, after working with thousands of women to help them have the lives and the careers they desire, I feel very differently about confidence than I used to. And I think there’s an unexpected truth about confidence that is the very opposite of what women are being told about it these days. I wrote about that for LinkedIn’s Weekend Essay here. Come join the conversation over there.

And…have you gotten the Playing Big book yet? It’s my guide, my love letter, my toolkit for you – so that you can play bigger in going for your aspirations, and being utterly true to yourself. Pick up your copy HERE at Amazon.com, HERE at B&N or HERE at Indiebound.

Wishing you a fabulous weekend! Love,

Tara

the things that rewrite us

Yesterday, I wrote this on social media:

I am being reorganized by motherhood. To call it a “major transition” is to underestimate it, dramatically. I’m being reorganized, rewoven, repatterned. There is a lot to grieve in that, and a lot to celebrate. Can anyone else relate?

Those words needed to be said. They needed to pour out of me. And I needed to know I’m not crazy.

Turns out I’m not. So many of you wrote about how you could relate, and your words were honest and wise.

It’s New Year’s time, and this is certainly not a typical New Year’s post. This is the time of year when we usually talk about how we are going to shape our lives, our futures. It’s all about our personal agency, our thoughts on what we want to change and how we’ll change it.

This is a post about the opposite. It’s about the things that change us.

Our culture celebrates the individual that changes his or her circumstances, but we don’t respect as much how circumstances change us. In part, I understand that – when we overcome and respond to with what life hands us, that’s where the light often comes through, where courage comes in, where goodness can triumph. And yet, there is something that deserves more time and space in our collective conversations about this other kind of experience, about the way life changes us.

In our culture we also celebrate times of clarity, but do we give enough respect for their inevitable partners – the times of being unclear? I’m in one of those times now, as motherhood reorganizes me.

This morning I had the thought – “Oh that’s why they call it a transition period” – there is a period of time (as in longer than five minutes) that is neither A nor B but the transition.” I somehow didn’t quite know that, or at least I forgot it. I had been thinking of transition as change, as the swift, active movement from A to B, or as the time when you’ve got some A left in you but lots of new B…a sort of mix moment, a transit moment–but it’s not always that. Sometimes transition is also the strange period of mushiness and messiness and confusion that you live in for a while, between living in A and living in B.

I often don’t know how to write about living in one of those periods. I am being rewritten by motherhood and one of the markers of the hugeness of that transition is that I am not even sure how I am being rewritten. I can’t quite give you an update on it yet. ☺ The part of me that used to be there to interpret and watch changes is also in motion, also shifting, unavailable to give a tidy report.

But what I am learning is this: to be human is not just to change our circumstances, but to be changed by them. It is not just to direct the current, or find a way to use the current, but to be washed over by the waves.

It is to let go of old selves, and to face the next chapter. To let them go with some gentle tears, or a few sobs, or a wink and an open hand through which they can slip away. It is to meet old selves again, years later, in the moment you’d least expect to. It is to surrender to change.

What in your life experience—parenthood or other rites of passage—has rewritten you? What was it, is it like, for you? And what do you want this new mama to know?

Love,

Tara

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the 1000 year test + upcoming europe trip

So many of us are faced with this dilemma: on the one hand, there is some project, some new direction, or some new career chapter we feel called toward. To start that school teaching kids music. To make a career shift from financial advisor to therapist. To write the book.

And yet on the other hand, we’ve got our current responsibilities. Kids to raise. Aging parents to take care for. Financial constraints. The feeling that life is full to the brim already and there just isn’t room for more expansion, for anything that will take more energy out of us, let alone more time.

When I hear women telling me about that dilemma (which they often do – so many of us have it), I always invite them to do this:

1. First, ask yourself if there really truly is a conflict between your dream and your life circumstances. Sometimes, limiting beliefs or false assumptions (and our fears) cause us to think our two goals are incompatible when they really aren’t. The limiting belief or false assumption could be that pursuing your dream would be all-consuming, or that it would take way from what you could give your family, or that it would drain your energy. Often these assumptions are not based in reality but rather come from our conditioned ideas about what good mothers or good wives or good daughters do. Or they are just mistaken impressions we picked up somewhere along the way. Other times, the issue is fear: we’re afraid to pursue the dream (because like all dreams it will ask us to risk failure and take us out of our comfort zones) and so our brain helpfully makes up lots of reasons to put action on hold, including that the dream just isn’t doable given our current responsibilities.

So question: is the conflict between your responsibilities/life circumstances and your dream really there? Are the two in fact incompatible? Maybe you can do the dream in a way that isn’t all consuming. Maybe it will dramatically enrich what you can give to your family, not take away from it. Maybe it will replenish your energy, rather than drain in. So first things first, rigorously question every assumption or belief you have about how the various priorities/loves/parts of your life can’t happily coexist.

If you discover that some of your assumptions are just that – assumptions – you can start to move forward on your dream in a way that also honors your other life commitments.

But if you find that yes indeed, there is a conflict between what you feel called to create/do/launch and your life responsibilities – let’s say you just can’t figure out how you could do that demanding tech start up while also being around in the way you’d like to for your two frail parents, or you just can’t figure out how to transition from being an attorney to a school principal while also paying off your student debt and raising your two young kids, then try step two.

2. Give your calling the 1000 year test. Ask yourself, “what is the form of this calling that could have existed 1000 years ago?” 1000 years ago, you wouldn’t feel called to be a school principal, but you might feel called to teach kids or to lead others who teach kids. 1000 years ago you wouldn’t feel called to become a graphic designer, but you might feel called to create beauty and order in visual form. 1000 years ago you wouldn’t have felt called to design an amazing mobile app for busy working parents, but you might have felt called to serve families in making their lives easier. Ask yourself, what’s the essence of this calling, the form that could have existed 1000 years ago?

Then brainstorm ways you can live out that fundamental call today. Five minute ways, ten minute ways, or a few hours a week ways. Ways you can live that calling while in your current job and circumstances. So if an attorney’s calling to be a school principal is, at its essence, about wanting to lead a team working for good, she can join a volunteer corps in her community. If the essence of her calling was about improving education, she can give her time, money and energies outside her current work to do that. If it was about being in a school environment, maybe she can start doing so pro bono legal work for schools.

I believe that every one of us can live out the essence – the 1000 year old elemental core – of our callings in our current lives, even if we can’t yet figure out how to live the particular form our calling originally took in our minds. And I believe we have a responsibility to our souls to be respectful enough of what call us that we find those simple, often mundane ways to live our callings out in some way, beginning today. Yes, today.

Click to tweet: Give your calling the 1000 year test.

And – Europe trip! I will be visiting Amsterdam, London, Bath, and Edinburgh this March, as the international editions of Playing Big make their way out into the world. If your company or organization would like to host a major talk or workshop in or near those locations, please shoot us a note at taramohr@taramohr.com and a member of my team will be in touch. Because my time is very limited on this trip, we will be focusing only a major, larger events, but if that’s a fit for your organization, please do reach out!

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“Don’t try to change the world before you read this book! In Playing Big Tara Mohr offers you the keys to unlocking your gifts, your potential and your power to make a difference. I guarantee that you will find yourself and your dreams somewhere in this book and when you do Tara’s deep insights, her practical action steps and her real life stories will set you free.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author, My Grandfather’s Blessings and Kitchen Table Wisdom

“spiritual” in secular settings

I recently received this question from a reader, Gail, who wrote:

“My work is informed by an underlying spirituality, but I work in a university environment. I often worry about my spirituality being criticized by others or that I’ll get into trouble if I talk about it. How do I stay true my spiritual callings while also working in a secular setting?

First things first: I know many of you reading don’t identify with (or like) the word “spirituality.” I hear you. For the purposes of this discussion, please take spirituality to mean that large, heartfelt impulse to do good, a sense of moral purpose that comes from an understanding of the sacredness and connectedness of all life. Even that version of spirituality, without dieties and theologies, can be hard to live out in the jaded, harsh settings that many of us work within.

When I was in school – in the secular environments of college and then graduate school – I needed my spiritual life deeply. I needed it because the social fish bowl and competitive culture of those places challenged my sense of confidence and to my connection to my self. I got easily intimidated and lost. I needed something to ground me and center me and lift me up – and for me, that is remembering the larger force of good and love, surrendering to it, asking to be of service to it.

But the spiritual stuff wasn’t really something I felt I could talk about or something that I felt I needed to talk about. On my own – whether in my own room before the school day – or in my own head in a difficult moment on campus, I grounded myself in that something larger. I remembered the sacredness of everyone around me. I asked to be of service. I asked for help from the great and potent unknown. I threw up my hands in surrender when it was too much, when I did not know. I practiced what people might call prayer and meditation. I read spiritual texts. I tried to act in ways that were kind, generous, loving. And of course, many times I failed to live up to all of that. But I would return to the intentions and try again.

That spiritual practice made it possible for me to stay truer to my voice in those places. It was the basis for any joy I found within them. And hopefully, I hope hope hope, it allowed to be a better contributor to those communities than I otherwise would have been.

I think that’s what I have to offer in response to Gail’s question – not advice, but that lesson learned from my own experience: that we can live our spirituality privately, quietly, and yet still fully. If we are doing that, others probably won’t think of us a “spiritual” or know a thing about our beliefs, but they will experience us as people able to own up to our mistakes, as people who are humble, grateful, and above all, as people who are kind.

How do you live your spirituality? How could you live your spirituality a little more today?

Last but not least, if you are like me, you are in the midst of finding those perfect holiday gifts for those you love. Click HERE to get signed, personalized Playing Big books for the special women in your life this year.

Love,

Tara

two kinds of gratitude

I was thinking about what I wanted to write about for Thanksgiving, after my Dad reminded me it would be nice to send out a holiday post. Thanks Dad.

Naturally, my thoughts went to gratitude.

And I realized that in recent months my gratitude practice had been impoverished, not as rich as it used to be. And then I realized why.

In recent months, I’ve been calling on gratitude when I feel overwhelmed, sad, depleted. Learning to be a mom, weathering the mommyhood sleep deprivation, putting a book into the world and navigating everything that goes with that, accepting that our sweet five year old golden retriever has a very aggressive cancer…well, I’ve needed gratitude.

When things are tough, I will often pause and remind myself it’s time to think of everything I’m grateful for. I’ll name the list – occasionally on paper, but usually just in my mind. Sometimes, moments of that day make up the list: the special note or exciting opportunity that showed up in my inbox, the time with a friend, the walk in our neighborhood filled with so many majestic trees. Sometimes, the list is the big things – my husband, my son, our doggie, the good health and presence of so many people I love.

This usually helps to put things in perspective and lift my mood. But something about it feels like that – it’s a tool to lift my mood. Like now I’m making a column of the good stuff to remind myself it’s there.

I realized that this week that this is one kind of gratitude, what I’d call “gratitude for” – because the emphasis is on noticing what we are grateful for.

There is a deeper kind of gratitude that I used to experience more and that I’m going to start searching for again. It wasn’t so much “gratitude for” as “gratitude to.” In other words, I wasn’t just thinking about what I was grateful for, but also about the fact that those blessings had a source, a source that is a fount of abundant goodness, a source that keeps generating diverse expressions of life and gracing me.

It wasn’t the gratitude for but the gratitude to that brings tears to my eyes, that would make me feel not just lucky but held. Gratitude for makes me feel fortunate, gratitude to makes me feel in my right place -as a humbled, limited, human being. Gratitude for is about counting our blessings. Gratitude to is about being on the receiving end of a conversation with something larger. That is the gratitude I want.

May your experience of gratitude be deep and rich, and this year may you remember not just what you are grateful for, but also that there is something unnameable from which our blessings flow.

With love,

Tara

GET THE PLAYING BIG BOOK HERE!

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“Tara Mohr offers a new model of leadership, one that acknowledges and embraces the complex realities of women’s lives. Playing Big is the perfect catalyst for any woman who wants to go outside her comfort zone, find her voice, and embrace the biggest possibilities of her life.” - Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct