Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Playing Big Registration is Open!


From the age of about 5 or so, I would sit down with my mom at the breakfast table in the morning and, over oatmeal and orange juice, we would analyze my dreams. My mom believed dreams were important, and that even at a young age, a person could start to understand themselves better through them.

And if I came home complaining about a kid at school teasing me, my mom would say, “What do you think is going on for her at home that would cause her to tease other kids?”

I was raised in a house where I was encouraged to look at my life, and the world, through a psychological lens. I grew up immersed in learning about the inner life, psychology, and spirituality from all traditions.

But that was only one half of the worldview I was being taught. The other half was very different.

I went to school in competitive academic environments. There, I was being educated in a culture that sharply contrasted with the one I’d learned about at home. School emphasized mind over heart, learned knowledge over intuitive knowing. I went to Yale, I went to Stanford Business School. I learned how to play by the world’s rules.

This is my hybrid path, and it informs the approach I now use throughout my work. Mind and heart. Practical but not cynical. Knowledge and wisdom. Outer action and inner reflection.

The tension between two worlds that was often difficult for me to navigate when I was growing up is no longer a tension, but a fusion. I’m so happy that this fusion is one of the things people find most helpful in my work.

I know this: When you mix inner work with practical skills training, you get power.

Being alive in this remarkable time of new possibilities for women, we benefit so much from doing inner work in areas like unhooking from praise and criticism, clarifying our callings, and learning to manage self-doubt and fear.

But if we only have those tools, we can’t play to our full potential. We also benefit tremendously from learning “skills for world-changing” — such as how to communicate effectively, negotiate without apology, deal with feedback (and pushback), and get our messages out.

Registration opens today for the Playing Big program, my course for women who want to play bigger in their work and their lives.

The Playing Big course offers this hybrid of both inner and outer work. It includes powerful training to manage self-doubt and fear, connect with your inner wisdom, and uncover your right next steps. It also includes training in essential skills like negotiation, communication, sustaining personal motivation, and innovation – how to test, hone and scale anything new – whether a new career direction or a new offering in a business.

Playing Big is for you if you want to make a greater impact, and experience more joy and fulfillment in your work. It’s for you if you want to experience less fear, stalling, and self-doubt around going for your big aspirations, and instead, get going on what you most what to contribute and create.

In my next couple posts, I’ll be sharing about our program curriculum and how we combine inner work with skills training to help you play bigger.

To learn more about the Playing Big program and to get your spot, click here.




Falling in Love With Motherhood

I’ve written here before about being reorganized by motherhood – about the profound and difficult transition from a former life to a new one that came with my entry into parenthood.

Like most people, before I had a baby, I’d heard the phrase a thousand times, “You can’t imagine how much your life will change when you become a parent.”

Not only could I not imagine it, I couldn’t even locate what they were talking about. I’d lived a largely autonomous life before, where my plans and desires shaped my future. I didn’t know what it was to be changed in ways I didn’t foresee or choose.

Now, I look in the mirror and see a body and face altered, worn by the daily intensity of the past few years. I know those skin-deep changes are a metaphor: minute by minute, caring for a little person, I’ve been changed, gradually but significantly.

And here I am, two and a half years into motherhood, and three and a half years into the changed life that began even earlier, with a body overtaken by pregnancy.

On the one hand, I am still being rewoven, reorganized by motherhood. On the other hand, something has settled. The feeling of turmoil around that reorganization has quieted. The feeling of the old me being pulled and kneaded into something new has diminished. The weather in my emotional and mental sky feels less foggy, more serene and consistent. And WE ARE ALL SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT now. Hallelujah.

It was a few years of crossing a long bridge to get here, but now I’m here, on the other side: a mother. A parent. One who has in some strange way been removed from the center of the circle, to become one who nourishes the circle, who stands shoulder to shoulder with others, along the perimeter, to give life to what is now being grown in the center.

Still me but a different me.

And just as things are starting to feel a little calmer, we are about to turn everything upside down again, with a new baby coming in December.

Last night, there I was, walking up the stairs to our front door, feeling the curve and bounce of my growing belly. I was so happy to get home, to see the exuberant toddler I’d missed all day, to hear his sprint to the door, and to meet the face of my husband – the face that after almost twenty (oh my god) years, still grounds me and makes everything in me sigh when I see it. That face that says and means, home.

In this chapter of my life, the blessings of family life feel immense. Our routine is working. I’m on this side of the bridge, on land again. And I am falling more and more in love with this little boy who has given me the gift of an expanded heart.

I could still cry at some of what has been lost. Even in this moment of gratitude for what is, I could cry about it. Not sadness exactly, just change, just emotion, just the intensity of life.

But mostly I just feel like watching, watching all the beauty that is here before me now.



My Election Commitment. Join Me.

Hrs of Action=Hrs of Worry 2

Today, I’m inviting you to join me in a commitment.

As some of you have read about here, for the past several months I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, worried about what’s happening in our U.S. election.

In July, during one of my nights awake, something interesting happened.

As I stared into the night sky, suddenly a string of words – a thought – arose in my mind.

It came from a soft voice I’ve heard before. That voice is always quiet but firm, matter-of-fact. It never needs more than a few words to say what it has to say. And, interestingly, it shows up more when I’m praying or meditating more frequently.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve come to pay close attention to it.

That night it said this:

“Make the hours of your action equal to the hours of your worry.”

I understood that to mean:

Tara, however many hours you are going to spend ruminating
about the dangers of what’s happening, or venting about them,
spend at least that amount of time doing something that
could make a positive difference.

It suddenly felt clear to me that this is what it means for me to be responsible about what is happening in our country right now. And it also felt clear that this was one of the only ways I was going to find sanity around it.

So then and there, I committed to make the hours of my action equal those of my worry.

The “worrying” side of the ledger includes anything I do around the election that will have no practical impact on its outcome: lamenting or ridiculing what “the other side” just did. Consuming media that largely does the same. It includes any form of preaching to the converted. All of those go on the unproductive side of the tally.

On the other side is volunteering, donating, fundraising, speaking up in ways that I think could matter, and listening in ways that I think could matter.

None of the “worrying” activities are bad. They each have their functions – some educational, some therapeutic. But in this critical time, I believe there is no excuse for making them one’s primary form of engagement.

Here’s a summary of what’s on each side of the tally, for me.


Like so many of the kinds of positive action we talk about in the Playing Big model, the things we do on the “making a difference” side of the ledger may feel a little uncomfortable or scary at first, but ultimately are much more fulfilling, fun and interesting. There is lots of new learning – about yourself and other people – that comes from the activities on the “action” side. Not so much on the other side.

I also encourage you to look at the beliefs you hold as you are taking action – or the beliefs that may hold you back from taking action. For women, “playing small” narratives like these often get in our way around political involvement:


Today, I want to ask you to join me.

In making the hours of your action equal to – or more than – the hours of your worry.
In playing bigger in how you contribute to what is happening in our collective conversation and society right now.

Share this with your friends if you’d like them to join, too. Forward to a friend who you’d love to see speaking up more. Share this challenge with your community on Facebook here, or on Twitter here.

This is going to take all of us.


Tara Sophia Mohr

And don’t forget…

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The next session of my Playing Big Course for women is starting soon!

This is my in-depth personal and professional growth class for any woman who is feeling the call to make a greater impact and experience more fulfillment in her life and work. We cover everything you need to play bigger – including working with self-doubt and fear, unhooking from praise and criticism, communication and negotiation skills, and clarifying your calling.

If you are interested in receiving details about the course and getting access to our early bird discount, sign up for our Playing Big Early Information list here.

I still do this. Do you?

I still do this. Do you?

You know that remarkable moment when you recognize yourself – your beliefs, your patterns, your life experience – in something you are reading?

A while back, I was reading about a study on financial literacy around the world.

Here’s what it found:

When researchers gave women and men a short quiz that tested their financial literacy, men did better. Not too shocking, right? Men are exposed to more informal financial education, and they are encouraged to learn about investing and money management. Women often are not.

But there was another part of the research findings that practically knocked me out of my chair.

“When we took away the ‘do not know’ option [from the multiple choice financial tests] women were no less likely to choose the wrong answer. So if forced to pick an answer, women seem to know as much as men,” Professor Annamaria Lusardi, one of the principal researchers, reported.

In other words, the gender gap in the test scores was a result of women choosing “I don’t know” more often than men. When that option was taken away, they performed just as well as their male counterparts.

They knew as much as the men, but they were less likely to trust what they knew. They were less likely to make a guess based on their leanings, their partial knowledge, or their hunches.

That was even true on this test, when (unlike in life) there was absolutely no penalty for making the wrong choice…no risk involved. Yet many women found it more comfortable to choose “I don’t know” than to venture a guess.

Sound familiar?

This is where I recognized myself, and so many women I know. We say, “I don’t know” when we do know. We say “I don’t know” when our knowledge may be partial, but it’s enough to point us in the right direction.

The reasons we do this, of course, are not that we are crazy or deficient in some way, or just not confident enough. The reasons have to do with what we’ve been taught, and what we’ve learned through our life experience.

Boys are taught to cover up anything that could be perceived as weakness or vulnerability; they start getting trained early on to hide uncertainty of all kinds.

At worst, this produces B.S. artists and unwise decisions. At best, it helps competent people lean into what they do know and move forward wisely in the face of uncertainty.

Girls, by contrast, are often socially validated for expressing confusion and uncertainty and turning outward for help and answers. Just think about the size of the “advice to women” industry compared to that of men.

Girls and women are also more likely to be penalized for being wrong. Bias – in women and men – causes women’s mistakes to be seen as more significant indicators of our capabilities than they are in a man. We learn quickly we may be judged harshly for being wrong, and so we become more conservative in speaking up if we aren’t sure about something we’re saying.


But for me, the core reason I choose “I don’t know” is that deeply felt sense that somehow, I am an intruder. I’m a visitor from a foreign land, in professional and intellectual life.

This is the well-documented “imposter syndrome” that women – especially high-achieving women – almost universally feel.

That feeling in us is not born of our individual life experiences, but of our strange and wondrous historical moment. Women are now being permitted to step into professional roles and leadership that we have never seen women take on before – roles that for several thousand years prior, society told us we were entirely unsuited for.

Nothing in our bodies, minds or hearts looks at the image of ourselves leading and says, “Oh yeah, of course, that’s for me. Of course, that’s what I’m meant to be. Of course, I’ll do fine.”

Yet you can run this experiment: What happens if you remove the “do not know” option for a while, just as the researchers removed it from their quiz? What if you push a little harder to see what answer you’d lean into if you had to just pick one?

Bottom line?

You know more than you think you do. And we need you to share it.

Join Me This Fall…

The next session of my Playing Big Course for women is starting soon!

This is my in-depth personal and professional growth class for any woman who is feeling the call to make a greater impact and experience more fulfillment in her life and work. We cover everything you need to play bigger – including working with self-doubt and fear, unhooking from praise and criticism, communication and negotiation skills, and clarifying your calling.

If you are interested in receiving details about the course and getting access to our early bird discount, sign up for our Playing Big Early Information list here.

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Are you feeling the call to play bigger?

PB Alum Quote-Catalyst

Over the years, I’ve learned this: there comes a time in our lives when the life we’ve been living doesn’t quite fit anymore.

What felt fine before starts to feel constraining, or dull, or gray. We slowly come to realize that one chapter of our lives is ending – or has ended – and it’s going to be up to us to create the next chapter, or to discern what path is calling us.

Although these moments can be uncomfortable, they are incredible opportunities. That part of you that burns for more fulfillment, more authenticity, more impact, and an intensified desire to do what holds meaning for you? In these moments, that part is speaking louder, and you have the opportunity to listen.

If it’s one of those times for you, I want to invite you to join me for the upcoming Playing Big Course and sign up for our Early Information list. This is my pioneering class for women who want to play bigger in their work and in their lives. It happens online and by phone, so you can attend from anywhere around the world.

We are now entering our sixth year of making a global impact in teaching women in business, the social sector, entrepreneurship, academia and the arts to play much bigger.

I’m always honored by what people have to say about their experiences in the course. Here are just a few examples:

I have gained so much more out of Playing Big than I ever expected. I came in hoping that Playing Big would help me tap into my calling and provide some motivation and tools to pursue it. I did not expect the transformational power of this series. Tara’s tools and exercises get at the heart of playing bigger in a way that is sustainable and that I can keep going back to. I feel that I own my voice more confidently, that I’ve accessed the wisest part of myself, and that I’m showing up more authentically throughout my life. I have strongly recommended this course to all of my friends.” – Betty Chen, Director of Family Engagement at Summit Public Schools

“After attending the Playing Big course, I am much better at communicating from a place of strength. I mentor several colleagues. So often now, concepts we discussed in Playing Big jump out when I’m coaching these ladies. I’m glad I can share some ideas to help them play bigger in their careers. I feel much better about my abilities and contribution in the world. But most of all, I am happier about what I am doing.” – Meg, Finance Executive

I now have a vision that propels me forward every day. I know that my voice is needed and that I have a duty to play big in this life, to heal the world in the way I know best, no matter what my inner critic voices are telling me.” – Amanda Vella, Yoga Teacher and Writer

Our next session starts in late September.

If you are interested in receiving details about the course, and having access to our early bird discount, sign up for our Playing Big Early Information list here.

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With love & gratitude,

Tara Mohr