Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Rising Strong with Brené Brown

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Last week, I had plans for brunch with a dear friend. We had set the date weeks before, and I was really looking forward to it. This is a friend I cherish, and I love spending time with her.

The day before we were supposed to meet, I got a text from her. “So sorry, but some big work deadlines came up and I can’t make it tomorrow. Let’s reschedule soon!”

My heart sank. I did something I often do when I’m in an icky emotional place: I didn’t respond. I didn’t mean to not respond, but I went into my pattern of, “Ouch. I don’t know how to respond right now. I’ll deal with it later.”

That same day, I started reading, Rising Strong, Brené Brown’s beautiful, potent new book. I was so honored to receive an early copy from Brené last week.

If you don’t know Brené Brown’s work, I’m thrilled to introduce it to you. I think of Brené as a courageous leader, an agent of change and a gifted communicator. She is a stunning example of a woman trusting her own story and voice enough to bring them forward in the service of helping all of us.

Rising Strong is all about how we can come back even stronger, more whole – even healed – when we fail, when we vulnerably share ourselves or our work in some arena (your team, your field, your community, your relationship) and it doesn’t go as you’d hoped.

In the book, Brené writes that anytime we have a strong emotional reaction to something, when our buttons get pushed, we can move through it in a positive way if we “reckon” with it.

In the Rising Strong model, that means we do two things:

We 1) engage with our feelings (rather than deny or repress them) and 2) we “get curious about the story behind the feelings.”

As I was reading Rising Strong, I thought of the text from my friend. Much as I wanted to be able to respond with a casual, “Sure!,” and move on from there, her message had, in fact, evoked a strong emotional reaction in me, and the truth was, it was hurt.

I used the Rising Strong model and asked myself, “What is the story behind these feelings?” There was a quiet, but familiar story there. “If she cancelled so casually, she must not value the time with me as much as I value it with her.” There was another story that went after that, “That’s because she’s so special and whole and together and wonderful, and I’m needy.”

Once I saw those old stories, I could have some compassion for myself. I could see how they were likely untrue. I followed Brené’s next steps – to rumble with the feelings of shame and unworthiness that were part of them – and to choose how I wanted to respond. It was clear to me: I didn’t want to live in that old story. I wanted to live a story of honesty, of honoring my emotions, and of connection.

I sent my friend an honest message back. “Happy to reschedule but I’m disappointed. I miss you and was really looking forward to this time together. And I felt a little hurt by your message because it seemed so casual about canceling.” This felt quite vulnerable to say.

The next time I checked my phone, my friend had written back with a heartfelt apology. She even said the minute she had pressed “send” she felt badly – like she didn’t communicate how she too was very disappointed and had been really looking forward to the time together. She explained that sometimes when she’s upset about something, she kind of writes it off in herself and with others, and she was working on that.

My heart immediately felt open and cheerful again, and I again felt all the reasons why I adore our friendship.

Though what made the difference was just one small choice to be honest and vulnerable, the gulf between the two possible outcomes that could have occurred was huge.

If I hadn’t been prompted by Rising Strong to look at the story around my emotions, to question it, and to choose my behavior from there, a sense of hurt and distance would have lived on in this friendship. And maybe even worse, I would have kept carrying that crappy old “she’s so wonderful; I’m not” story in my head and heart. Instead, I ended up feeling closer to my friend, and so solid in our friendship, and a little bit healed from that old story about myself.

This is only one of many, many ways that I’m looking at things in my life differently because of what is offered so generously on the pages of Rising Strong. I finished the last page and, like my toddler son does with his favorite truck books these days, went right from the back cover to page one to start it all over.

I hope you’ll join me in reading, and in Rising Strong from the difficult moments of your journey. People always say you grow most from the difficult stuff, but this book gives the roadmap how we can do that.

To get started today, ask yourself: what was the last thing that triggered a strong emotional reaction in me? What’s the story I’m carrying behind those emotions? Am I willing to question that story?

That’s just the beginning of the Rising Strong process. Learn the rest (and so much more) in the book. You can pick up your copy here.

With love,



Coming this Fall: The Playing Big Facilitators Training

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Good morning!

I’m writing today to tell you about something I’ve been up to this year that, well … quite honestly, I’ve had the time of my life with!

It’s the Playing Big Facilitators Training, a program for women who want to play bigger and help other women play bigger, too.

It’s a training for coaches, therapists, managers and mentors who want to step it up themselves and become more effective in empowering other women in their work.

The training happens via phone and online, so you can attend from anywhere around the world and in a way that works with your schedule. Our next session will begin in October and continue through Spring 2016.

This is an opportunity to learn the proven Playing Big model that has been featured in venues ranging from The New York Times to The Today Show, and that has earned the praise of leaders from Tara Brach to Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen to Elizabeth Gilbert.

The tools and practices you’ll learn have yielded incredible results for over 1000 women worldwide, including:

  • 94% of women report that as a result of the Playing Big tools, they can tap into their own inner wisdom more easily,
  • 93% report they feel more confident,
  • 90% report they feel reconnected to their passion and dreams for their lives.

I wanted to give you advanced notice about this opportunity.  To learn more, please sign up for our special information list HERE.

Because this program is for a specific cohort (those working in some way to empower other women), I will be sending information about this program primarily to this dedicated mailing list.  If you’re interested, please sign up so you don’t miss the opportunity to learn more!

With gratitude,


5 Big Ideas for Doing Your Best Work

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I’m delighted to introduce you to Todd Henry.

ToddHenryTodd is a thinker and writer on creativity, innovation, and productivity. Over the past few years, I’ve come to really enjoy his work. You can find his podcast among my favorites on my phone! He has a new book just out, Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, and I learned so much from it. We are giving away two signed copies – leave a comment below to enter to win.

I recently had a rich conversation with Todd about his book. You can listen to the audio of our chat if you’d like – included at the bottom of the post, but I want to start you off right away with 5 powerful ideas from Louder Than Words that you won’t want to miss.

1. Have you ever thought about how to “find your voice?”  Todd’s perspective is that you won’t so much find your voice as develop your voice. It is a process that happens over time, and that can happen consciously. I love that, and it’s certainly true to my experience. Nice to realize it’s not about one big epiphany, isn’t it?

2. Studying hundreds of creatives, Todd observed three common elements in those who produce unique work over the course of time and develop a real audience for what they do. He calls these elements of voice Identity, Vision and Mastery. “You have to be rooted in what you believe or who you are. You have to be fighting battles that are authentically true to you in that sense (that’s Identity). You have to have vision in terms of where you’re taking your work (that’s Vision). Then you have to have a sense of mastery of the skills that you’re going to need in order to introduce it into the world (that’s Mastery).”

3. In the development of our authentic voices, most us of go through an initial phase of emulation – when we are imitating those we admire, whether we realize it or not! This is true even of artists that you’d think of as having incredibly distinct voices, and genius levels of talent. Look back, and you can see they had an emulation phase. We naturally do that as a way to find our own footing.

Then we reach a divergent stage when, according to Todd, “You start to feel a little bit stifled by the container that you’ve built. Often you will feel contempt for your mentors. Anytime something that you’re doing during the divergence phase starts to smack a little bit of somebody who has influenced you, you’ll start to feel a little bit resentful. You’ll try to push away from your mentors and your heroes a little bit because you really want to find your own thing, your own voice. That’s a sign that it’s time to diverge.” This is when we start to really discover and use our authentic voice. I think that if we can all be aware of these emulation and divergent phases in our work, we can move through them more wisely and with much less stress along the way.

4. In the book, Todd also shares this fascinating idea, which he recapitulated in our conversation. “In Greek mythology, the Muses are the figures that inspire works of art and creativity. The genesis of the Muses is that they’re the offspring of Zeus, who is the god of gods, or the god of power, and Mnemosyne, who is the goddess of memory. The idea there is that energy applied to memory leads to creative inspiration. It’s when you apply specific energy to your memories and begin to mine the past in order to gain insight. You begin looking for patterns. That’s where most of our brilliant insights come from.” I (Tara) thought that was so powerful, and it really is true for me. It’s when I’m applying energy, attention, curiosity, and the search for meaning to what is resting in my memory that my original ideas and ways of talking about things come.

5. The 50 Notables is a framework of five powerful questions Todd uses that can help you discover more about your voice and work. Todd says, “Often as we’re pushing through our work, as we’re plowing through our days, going about the busyness of our schedule, it’s easy to lose sight of those little emotional pings, those little things that connect with us in a deep and profound way. I prescribe keeping a running list of things that seem notable to you in some way, that capture your attention, that capture your imagination, and that ping you emotionally.” (For tons of creative inspiration, grab our free download HERE. It’s a worksheet for you to record your 50 Notables, with great prompts from Todd).

Get the goodies:

Download the audio of our chat HERE or listen online:

Grab the 50 Notables worksheet HERE.

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Leave a comment below to enter to win a copy of Louder Than Words!

But it’s not unique…

But It's Not Unique Blog Post
There’s something troubling I’ve heard a lot over the past several years, doing this work of helping women share their voices.

A woman wants to create something – to write something, or tell her story in some way, or create a new product or service. She feels some sense of calling, of pull, of inspiration.

But a rather insistent voice in her head says, “But you have nothing new to add here. What you’re saying (or doing, or creating) isn’t unique.

That belief becomes a barrier to her sharing her voice.

Let’s slow down the process enough to see how, if a woman is ever having this But-Is-It-Unique? conversation with herself, something has already come between her and her creative flow.

There was a moment when she looked at herself from the outside: How will this fare? Will they like it? Will they feel it’s different enough from what they’ve already heard?”

When we are in the territory of “I have nothing new to add here…I’m not unique” we are in the dangerous territory of self-assessment and self-objectification.

First, this conversation with ourselves is never productive or helpful. I have never heard of an example when someone concluded from the But-Is-It-Unique? conversation with themselves that their work was unique, or discovered some ways to make it more unique.

Sure, if we want to influence people or grow a business, we need to discover what’s compelling for our desired audience. But we do that best through clear-eyed, emotionally neutral experimentation – putting different creations into the world and seeing what resonates. That’s quite different than sitting at home worrying your work offers nothing “new.”

Second, here’s the thing: we don’t produce unique work because we thought about it, or because we tried to make our work more distinctive. In fact, the uniqueness of our creations is not something we can ever increase or generate directly, by focusing on it.

Uniqueness is a product, or a byproduct. It’s an outcome.

Uniqueness is a product of authenticity. Be authentic, and you will never need to worry about your work’s uniqueness. Period.

Share your real ideas. Share the stories from your journey; they are unique when you tell the truth about them. Notice the wispy and whispering insights that pop up inside you, especially the ones that seem a little odd at first. Stalk the subjects of your real curiosity. Bring all your strengths to the table; you have a singular set.

And don’t get your hair blown out straight for the big professional event, and don’t wear the uncomfortable thing you think you should wear. Talk and look like the real you when you show up for us.

When you are courageously true to yourself, your work will be stunningly unique.



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There’s a book I read to my son almost everyday these days – The Construction Crew.

Okay, let me be more honest: most days I read it to him at least five times. If he sees the book lying somewhere in the room, he is excited to read it, right that moment. And then to read it again.

My son has a lot of books about trucks, but this one has long been his favorite. It’s something about the art.

On the last page of the book is a short dedication from the illustrator, Carrie Eko-Burgess.

It says, “For my father, Charles Eko, who told me when I was little to quit tracing and start drawing.”

The first time I read that, in a 5:30 am up-with-the-little-one haze, my heart exploded a little.

“For my father, who told me when I was little, to quit tracing and start drawing.” 

What a gift to receive that message from a parent.

What a gift we give when we remind someone that they are ready, and they are enough, to quit tracing, and start drawing.

Where in your life are you tracing, when really, something is within you that wants to draw?

And where are we as a society still tracing something – some older picture that is supposed to show us the right way to do things – when in fact, it’s time to draw something new?

Love to you,


A little postscript. When I wrote to Carrie to get her permission to use the book cover image in this post, she told me how vividly she can still remember the moment when her father said this to her. She told me movingly, that her dad is even pictured in the book, a member of the construction crew. And oddly enough, we also discovered, that the very day she and I had been corresponding, she and my son had serendipitously crossed paths. Of all the places in the world, that day, they both were walking around the very same museum in San Francisco.