Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

A New Year’s Update from Tara

It’s 9:17 a.m. and I’m at the desk, sitting down to the empty page to write to you. This post is a personal New Year’s update, on where I’m at and what is coming next.

Before becoming a mother, I woke up, no alarm, because I was just done with sleeping (what a concept) around 6 a.m.

I’d grab my laptop and in the stillness of early morning, sit down at my dining room table to write. I’d work deeply for a couple hours – writing a blog post or a new article, or a poem, or a book chapter.

Around 9 a.m., I’d be spent, done with that highly focused and glorious creative time. I’d make myself breakfast and chat with my husband, who’d just be getting up.

Today, I wake up very differently. I open my eyes because a little boy is saying, “Mama. Mama. Maaaamaaaa. Maaaaamaaaa!!!”

I carry him as he reorients himself to his room, our house, this earthly realm. He wakes slowly.

I make coffee for me and breakfast for him. We play. There are more than a few heart-bursting with joy moments.

The kitchen gets newly strewn with sippy cups and playdough and half eaten eggs. I feel again like I’m losing the battle against this new quantity of stuff, and this new level of mess.

We transition, slowly, to whatever he’ll be doing next – usually time with another important grown-up in his life.

After all that, I make my way downstairs to this desk to write. The world is not silent as it used to be during my writing time. It’s buzzing already. I’m not close to my dreams like I used to be when writing. My mind is not empty. I’ve done a hundred things already and my being is full of them. And of course, I’m far more tired than I used to be.

But thankfully, the empty page takes me back, almost as well as early mornings did, to that spacious place from which we create.

About a year ago, I wrote that I feel completely reorganized by motherhood. It’s only become truer, the reorganization more deep and bewildering and complete.

I am in that process of letting go of the old and finding my way through a foggy new landscape to the next emerging me, and the life she’ll have.

My friend Lianne Raymond sees the chapters of our lives in terms of metaphors of organic growth – times for planting seeds, times for putting down roots, times for branching out and bearing fruit. I sense that the past decade or so for me was one of branching out and bearing fruit. And now is root time. Rooting down. I feel soft, heavy, humble.

I do not anticipate that my work will become less important to me. But it has already become less important to my ego. Hunger for accolades and achievement seems to be slipping away. The interest in what’s already here is greater, for me, than it’s ever been. And the call to be more courageous in my work is strong.

One thing I know for sure, my writing is going to get more honest and braver this year – that is my promise to you. Less concerned with what others may think and more loyal to what I believe is possible, and what I believe must change.

New Year

And, I’m so excited that with this new year, the Playing Big paperback book is out in the United States. (My next post will be about this – stay tuned to see the beautiful new cover and hear all about what I’m truly so happy about with this edition.)

I’ll be spending much of the several months sharing about the Playing Big book out in the world – lots of podcasts, speaking, and events with women’s groups and increasingly coed groups, too.

On that note, San Francisco Bay Area women, please join me next week to celebrate the paperback release at this event at The Hivery. The Hivery is an incredible organization that I love, and this event is going to be so special.

So, that’s some of what is on the horizon, and what’s in the soil, for me.

What is changing for you? What is present now?

Wishing you a year filled with learning, grace, and connection.


Two ideas I’m loving…

Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson

You might remember my conversation with Whitney Johnson a few years back. I always appreciate her substantive exploration of how women can craft more fulfilling careers, and her unique blending of thinking from the fields of business and psychology.

In the audio conversation below, we talk about her fascinating career path – from music to Wall Street finance to author. Today, I’m excited to share with you two of the many helpful ideas from her new book, Disrupt Yourself. These two provoked big aha moments for me.

1. A New Way of Thinking About Constraints
“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources.” Those words, written by Twyla Tharp, stopped me in my tracks. They kick off Whitney’s fabulous chapter on the positive power of constraints.

We assume that constraints limit us. That the small amount of time you have to work on a passion project, for example, is a problem. Having only a little knowledge about a topic you want to write about, is a deficit.

Whitney shares in her book how when it comes to creativity and innovation, constraints often help us. The fastest growing startups, it turns out, aren’t those who got ample funding. They’re the bootstrapped ones that operated in an environment of constrained financial resources. Other research shows that too much time or even lots of buy-in from others around a project diminishes a person’s ability to do the project.

Of course, there are dire constraints that cause human beings all kinds of suffering, and yes, we want all human beings to be liberated from those kinds of constraints.

But there are also all kinds of non-dire constraints, particularly in our work, that we think of as negative, but that actually can be helpful. I’ve definitely seen this in my own career. The blog posts I’ve written that have been the most well-received are the ones I’ve written in the shortest amount of time. Having less time in general, now that I’m a parent, has helped me stop over-thinking things and being perfectionistic. I was never more creative as a writer than when I was given a specific prompt – a constrained topic – to write about everyday through a semester in college. And it was an unexpected constraint on technology – a venue with no projector or wired mic – that helped me give the most emotionally connected, flowing, and honest speech I’ve given in my life.

What constraints in your life or work can you think about in a new way? How could they help you?

2. “For the risk averse who are trying to convince themselves to try something new, the trick is not to focus on what will be gained by venturing forth, but to instead focus on what might be lost by standing still.”

When I read these words in Whitney’s new book, I gasped out loud. I suddenly understood my own experience in a new way. Many of you have heard me tell the story of deciding to embark on the career path I’m on now. A pivotal moment happened for me as I was sitting in my living room, up in the middle of the night, thinking about why I was feeling unhappy and what I really wanted.

I had the thought that the next few decades – the central ones in my career – could fly by very quickly as I worked this job with lovely people, that I liked well enough day-to-day, that paid well, and that allowed me to have a balanced life. However, I realized that night that at the end of those decades, I would look back and know I’d been more loyal to my fears than to my dreams.

It was that thought – of the pain and regret I’d feel down the line if I stayed on my current path – that pushed me to do something different. That’s exactly what Whitney is describing in the quote above. Maybe that’s true for you too – that thinking or writing about the downside of not going for your more authentic life (rather than upside of going for it), will help move you into action.

Listen as Whitney and I chat about this and much more – press play or download the audio file below. And learn more about Whitney Johnson’s new book, Disrupt Yourself, here.



avoiding what you most love

Fearlessness Blog Graphic

The lights in the room go down. I’m up on stage. I can’t see many faces or eyes in the audience, but I can feel the crowd, completely. I speak from the heart, and lose my sense of time, of space and of me. Magic happens.

I sit down at the computer to write. I wade through the icky first few moments and eventually, the work draws me in. A couple hours later, I pick up my head, notice the time, and feel completely uplifted by the journey that writing has taken me on.

For me, writing and speaking are the vessels that carry me to that special state called flow, the state when we lose track of time, when we fall into a gorgeous forgetting of ourselves and become completely merged with what we’re doing.

For you, it’s probably some other activities. Maybe running or gardening or counseling or crunching numbers. We’ve all been given a few vessels that take us into that special state called flow.

What I want to talk about today – with great compassion – is why we so often end up not doing the things that bring us into that wonderful state of flow, even though flow brings us so much joy, and so much respite from our day-to-day malaises.

There are the usual reasons: Fear of being bad at the activity. Past wounds from that teacher or supposed mentor who made us feel like we just weren’t cut out to do the thing. Lack of time. Thinking we’re too old or too young, or, or, or…

Yes, all that. But there is a deeper reason we resist and then often simply don’t do the things that bring us into flow.

It’s because flow threatens ego.

The ego is a part of us that sees ourselves as a distinct, separate self. It’s invested in you seeing yourself as a self – you know, the kind with a name, a height, a weight, a resumé or LinkedIn profile, a relationship history, and so on. It generally feels quite threatened (because indeed an alone, separate self is not very safe), and therefore spends most of its energy trying to defend itself or avoid dangers one way or another. It never sees you the other way – a stitch in a wondrous fabric, a ray in a sun, a drop in an ocean. It knows the bounded you, not the connected one.

The ego does not like it when we go into flow state because flow state is about the disappearing of the boundaries of self.

The boundary that disappears for you when you are in flow might be one between you and other human beings.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and nature, as you hike on a trail or swim in the ocean.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and your material, as you sand the wood, or move the needle through the yarn, or place the bead on the wire.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and Inspiration, as something else writes the essay for you, or the right thing to say in the meeting simply comes out of your mouth.

Flow undermines the illusion of the separate self.

Ego doesn’t only feel threatened by failure or emotional exposure. It also feels threatened by anything that helps us transcend our egoic self.

A few weeks ago, I heard someone say something intriguing: “I’m afraid that if I start meditating more, I’ll somehow lose my edge.”

It’s an interesting phrase, “losing your edge.” Sometimes, those words are used to connote losing a competitive edge. Sometimes, it has to do more with losing a kind of mental sharpness, or hunger for achievement.

I can’t help but think about it differently. When I heard, “If I meditate more, I might lose my edge,” the edge I thought of was the edge of the self.

As much as we individually long to lose our edges, and as much as our world needs us to do so in order that we collaborate to survive, another part of us fears that loss.

So today’s note is, first and foremost, a loving reminder to you that there are things in your life that bring you into flow. Because we forget. Those activities are gifts to you from life and from the divine. They deserve your time, and they will repay you manifold if you give it to them.

Today’s note is also a reminder that you will likely avoid doing those things that bring you into flow, and the reason is that your ego does not want to lose the battle of how you view yourself – small or large, bounded or connected.

And today’s note is an encouragement to find a way to go into flow anyway, to dip into its well, and let it remind you of the vastness that is here, already in you, and ever waiting to connect to you.



sharing a personal story today

Today I’m sharing a personal story. It’s a little tender. It’s important to me. It’s a story I wanted to share.

It’s about a friend I love dearly and an experience that taught me so much.

You can read the essay at HuffingtonPost/OWN, HERE.



Recent Faves + Free Workshop for You

Good Morning!

I’m filled up after a weekend at the Emerging Women conference, where I heard so many inspiring women speak what they know to be true. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ideas and learnings with you in the weeks to come.

Today I want to share with you a few of my other favorite things I’ve taken in lately, and I also want to invite you to a free, online workshop I’m offering this week.

So first, the recent favorite things I loved so much I simply can’t not share them with you:

Photo of Mary Catherine Bateson by Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Photo of Mary Catherine Bateson by Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Being podcast interview with anthropologist and wise woman Mary Catherine Bateson. Beautiful. Revolutionary. Healing. Listen to this woman!!

On Being podcast interview with pioneering social psychologist Ellen Langer. Inspiring. Provocative. Validating. Listen to this woman, too!

And, for the teen in your life – especially if that teen is searching, struggling with cliques or body image issues, or simply could love themselves and their lives more, the book FLAWD: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are by Emily-Anne Rigal, Barnard College student and founder WeStopHate.org.

. . . . . . . . .

What Works & Why: A Free Workshop on Supporting Women to Play Bigger from the Inside Out

Today I also want to invite you to a free workshop about the Playing Big model and my upcoming Facilitators Training.

I know many of you are new here, so let me start from the beginning about what this is.

For many years, I coached one brilliant woman after another who was, in one way or another, being held back by fear and self-doubt.

I wanted to live in a world shaped and changed and run by these brilliant women.

I wanted them to feel the joy (and have the success) of living out their brilliance.

And, I knew I was just like them. I was tired of being run by fear and self-doubt, too.

I started to experiment with tools and ideas from psychology, contemplative spiritual traditions, coaching, and business to see what would truly enable these brilliant women to play bigger.

The patterns of what worked to help them were clear, consistent, and, given the conventional ways we think about women’s lives and careers, very surprising.

What I learned became a toolkit, an arc, for personal change and professional expansion. It became the Playing Big model that I teach and write about .

I teach a course called the Playing Big Facilitators Training for women who want to play bigger in their own lives and careers, and help the women they mentor, manage, parent, coach or otherwise serve to do the same.

This Wednesday I’ll be giving a free workshop that can help you get a feel for what the training is like. When you sign up, you can choose to attend live OR receive the recording.

IF you are curious, and think this course may be for you, please sign up to join us for the free workshop HERE!

That’s it!

Thanks, as always, for reading and being on this journey with me.