Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Last few days…

Good morning!

Hubbie, baby, and I got into to New York City at almost midnight last night – our first long flight with the little guy. He was a champ, and – to make life extra-interesting for his parents- – decided to spring his first tooth mid-flight!

I love New York City so much – my soul is in a perpetual happy dance state while I’m here, and arriving last night, something in me couldn’t stop saying, “Home sweet home.”

Tomorrow I’ll be speaking at the Emerging Women Conference, and then I head into a week of book tour activities – speaking engagements, Today Show (Tuesday), and lots of other good stuff.

Last week my husband asked me what kind of vacation I might like to take when all this is done, and I thought about it, and said back to him – I feel like I am already having my ideal vacation – my book tour! That’s the truth. Being in New York, talking to people about the ideas that matter so much to me, and (let’s be honest) some professional hair and make up sessions too? Honestly, that’s my kind of fun. It takes a little courage for me to say that, but it’s the truth.

The Playing Big book will be officially out in the world on sale beginning next Tuesday – so exciting! These are the last few days to preorder a copy of the book and get the special bonuses – two Q&A calls with me (you can call in live or listen to the audio recording) and some other goodies. Click HERE to learn more and get your book!

Sending love,


Hooked vs. Unhooked

In Playing Big, I write about “unhooking” from praise and criticism, and how being “hooked” by praise and criticism so often holds us back from playing big.

If you didn’t get to check it out yet – you can read my New York Times Op-Ed about this subject HERE. 

Today, I want to go deeper with the topic.

Being hooked by praise and criticism takes a few different forms, each paralyzing in its own way:

1. Dependence on, or addiction to praise –  causing us to do only those things that are likely to get us gold stars and others’ approval

2. Avoidance of praise – not wanting to stand out from the crowd – even for positive reasons, which causes us to self-sabotage, to not do our best work

3. Fear of criticism – which causes us to not innovate, share controversial ideas, pursue interests where we’ll be fumbling beginners or fail along the way, or do anything that makes us visible enough to be criticized!

Which of these three is currently the primary way you get hooked–praise-addiction, avoidance of praise, or fear of criticism?

The goal, in my view, is not to become impervious to praise and criticism. That would be impossible. It would also be inhuman, and would force us to deny an important part of ourselves. The part of us that wants to have mattered to others, to have been of service, is a part of ourselves I believe we should respect. The part of us that wants others to receive us with appreciation, with enthusiasm – the part that wants to be loved by those around us? I think that’s a very tender, real, part of us, a part to honor too.

The point is not to become disconnected from feedback, to have such a thick skin that we can’t feel it or hear it, but rather, to become “unhooked” by it, to not be run by it. The point is to be run by our own wisdom, and to be able to use feedback effectively, in the service of our callings and our aspirations, along the way. The goal is to not have others’ ideas about us distract us, silence us, or take us on an emotional roller coaster.

Here’s are some of the big differences between being hooked and unhooked:

 Being hooked by praise and criticism  Being unhooked by praise and  criticism
I look to feedback to tell me about my  talent, my merit, or the worthiness of  my ideas.  I look to feedback to give me  emotionally-neutral, strategic  information about how to most  effectively achieve my aims.
 I assume that feedback tells me  something about me.  I know that feedback can only tell me  about the people giving the feedback.
 I see criticism as a problem, a sign I did  something wrong, or as a failure to  anticipate others’ reactions.  I see criticism as something that simply  comes with playing big and with doing  important work.
 I know that some kinds of criticism hurt  me terribly, and I do my best to avoid  those.  I know that the criticism that hurts me  most hurts because it echoes what I  believe about myself, and I use painful  experiences of receiving that kind of  criticism as opportunities to look at and  change my own beliefs.
 Praise is the sundae.  My own fulfillment, service to others,  and self-expression is the sundae, and  praise is a lovely cherry on top.

Where are you on that spectrum of being hooked or unhooked? You may be in difference places on that spectrum in your work, your personal life, your creative life. Take stock: where are you now? What would be possible if you were more unhooked?


Playing Big is coming out in just a about a week! That means there aren’t so many days left to get those special gifts I’m giving to readers who preorder. Click HERE to learn all about that.




A must-read for every woman with a dream.” – Manisha Thakor

Don’t try to change the world before you read this book.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

My New York Times Experience

Many of you know, I am in the middle of an incredible whirlwind – having an op-ed essay in The New York Times.

The essay is about women’s relationship to praise and criticism, and – I’m thrilled – it’s one of the “most emailed” and “most tweeted” articles from the paper this week. My phone, my inbox and my social media have been full of responses to the piece. I’m breathless trying to keep up, but breathless in a very happy way.

When I first got the note from my publisher saying The Times was interested in considering an essay from me, I was elated…and afraid. My inner critic railed and raged. It had some funny lines:

“You have to sound really grown up to write for the Times and your writing doesn’t sound grown up.”

“People who write for the Times have that very smooth, articulate thing going on with their writing – that thing you don’t have.”

“This is impossible – with the topic they’ve asked you to write about it, it just won’t work. If they had asked you for another topic, you might write an essay good enough for them to publish, but with this topic you are doooomed.”

It said all these things. I felt afraid and nervous and even panicked at moments.

But I sat down to write anyway. Everything depends on that – “but I sat down to write anyway.”

It was hard to write and revise and rewrite with all those voices of doubt.

It was also just hard work. It was challenging to find that place of overlap between my voice and a newspaper op-ed voice. It was tricky to change from writing to women to writing about women. And it was a process to figure out how to write honestly and boldly, because I felt like I was exposing my ideas in a space that felt much less “safe” than the one here on the blog. The Op-ed page of The New York Times is certainly not a sheltered space.

So for a couple weeks, I wrestled. I worked hard. And the fear coursed through my body as I did so. A voice in me was sure – utterly sure – this piece wouldn’t be “good enough” to be published. (Yes, that’s just how that voice phrased it.) And another part of me was sure, very sure, I was going to give it my best shot.

It’s funny, because so many people misinterpret my work as being about trying to help women be more confident. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think confidence is a luxury I’m not going to wait on, and I don’t want you to wait for it either.

I think we need to act in spite of self-doubt. We need to know the inner critic voice can be there, ranting and raving, and we don’t have to take direction from it. We can let another part of ourselves lead us.

There is no other way to find out how ready you really are to take your seat at the table. There is no other way to find out how much your ideas, your voice will be welcomed by its right audience.

I know for me, when it comes to relationship moves, or telling or not telling about something, or making a change in my personal life, I listen to that inner sense of ready or not ready. But when it comes to playing bigger in sharing my voice, my ideas? I don’t take direction from my own assessment of what I’m ready for, because I’ve found a misleading voice of fear yelling “NOT READY!” clouds the real answer.

For today, here’s my question for you:
What is that playing bigger stretch that doesn’t feel comfortable, that your mind has all kinds of narratives about (it’s not the right moment, it doesn’t feel ‘resonant’, I can’t do it right now because…)? What if you did it anyway, and saw what life had to show you about your own readiness, and what will return to you as the reward for action?

And I invite you to join me and hundreds of other women for a journey to support your playing bigger this fall. Preorder the book, Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, and you’ll also get access to live calls, worksheets, and videos to support your playing bigger. All the details are HERE.


Celebrating – The New York Times!

It’s a milestone for me, for sure. Today there is an essay from me, based on my new book Playing Big, in The New York Times. You can read it here. Come on over!



Nothing Was Wasted

Social Graphic Post - nothing wasted

In Tuesday’s post, I wrote about how almost all of us resist our callings. We deny them, we try to rationalize them away, we avoid them out of fear.

That has certainly been true in my life. There were years for me of not doing the things I most love to do – writing, dance, being creative, being on stage. There were years of not answering the call to do the kind of work I do now.

I had an instinct to say something in Tuesday’s post about why that’s alright, why it’s really alright that we miss out on our callings for years – painful though it is – but I couldn’t quite find succinct words for what I wanted to say.

What kept popping up into my heart and mind were these words, “That’s okay, because life is long,” or even – more provocatively – “That’s okay, that’s why life is long.”

Huh? Where did that come from, another part of my mind asked back. I got a little intimidated about writing that – because life isn’t long for everyone and because it’s more than a little bold to declare why you think life is long. My inner critic got a little worried about what would happen if I wrote those words.

But they’ve stayed with me, especially after I read some responses to Tuesday’s post, like from Corina, who wrote, “I now realize that I missed several callings because I was letting the noise of the outside world drown out my own inner voice.”

Yes. I think that’s the story for all of us.

Somehow, it seems, straying from our callings is a part of what we all do in this life. We leave who we really are. And then we find our way back home again.

Most of us will get many years to do this.  Life is giving, forgiving, and grants us time to learn the lessons that push us to make the return.

I suppose why that matters to talk about is that it allows us to each see our own journeys as okay, even as beautiful. It allows us to see the lost time as an essential part of the picture – and by that I mean the time we were lost, not time that was lost – because no moment is ever wasted.

For me, the lost years are so important. They made me more grateful for these years. They taught me what it feels like to stem the river inside of me – and why doing that won’t really ever work for me – too much sadness and bitterness comes as a result. The lost years taught me a lot about who I really am and how that part of me won’t die out – even if I ignore it. The lost years also were what allowed me to learn some important things about how we find our own way back home.

Every  moment of playing small contributes to the fire to play big. Every day spent separated from our callings contributes to the eventual devotion with which we’ll pursue them, and the gratitude we’ll have for them.

Sometimes there are tears of sadness, of grief that we need to cry for the lost years, and what we put ourselves through during them. But know this: those years were not wasted.




A must-read for every woman with a dream.” – Manisha Thakor

Don’t try to change the world before you read this book.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

Please join me and thousands of other women in making the journey to playing bigger from the inside out. The book is here.