Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

Chrysalis Time

What should we do in the in-between time, when one chapter of our lives or work has ended and the next one hasn’t come into being yet?

This is chrysalis time. Perhaps you’ve heard the metaphor before: in between being a caterpillar and becoming a butterfly, there is the chrysalis.

This is the stage of old things giving way, the stage of goopy mess, of being neither caterpillar nor butterfly. It is the time of being something in an undefined, transitional, un-presentable state.

{Cocktail parties are very difficult to attend during this time.}

Chrysalis happens inside a cocoon. It is a time of retreating into shelter so that transformation can happen in a protected place. It is a time when privacy and boundaries are needed. (And if you don’t allow them, your psyche will create them for you in unconscious ways – quitting, flaking, sabotaging relationships.)

Chrysalis time comes to all of us.

So what can we do during chrysalis time?

Know it for what it is. Name it as chrysalis time.
Know it is normal.
Know it is universal.
Know it is temporary.
Allow the cocooning but be mindful it doesn’t turn to isolation.
Have compassion for all the ways it is hard – the disintegration, the waiting, the discomfort.
Remember you can’t rush the process.
But remember you can help the process.

Let’s talk about that last part – helping the process.

We can’t control the timeline of a process of becoming. Sorry, ego. Sorry, planner brain.

But we can accelerate the process by surfacing, facing, and bringing into the light what is happening in us.

In conversation or by writing, we can articulate what no longer fits, letting the words make it clearer to us. In the same way, we can start to articulate what we want and what seems to be arising in us now.

And this is so important, and I see women miss this all the time. We can articulate the little we do know about what is next. So often I talk with women who think they don’t have a vision unless they have a 100% clear and complete one, the kind they feel they could explain to some skeptical observer or put into a business plan.

But I have never met a vision that showed up that way (and I’ve met a lot of them, talking to women about this for the past ten years).

Visions for what is next – your next creation, your next job, your next way of moving through the world – don’t arrive fully formed or with a how-to plan. They come through fragments, whiffs, energies in the body.

In chrysalis time, there are big blanks in our picture of the future, but there are also always words and pictures and ideas we can access about what wants to emerge.

If your vision for what is coming next in your life or your work is 95% blank, articulate the 5% you can see – the little fragments, the faint intuitions, the general direction.

As you surface that 5%, you accelerate its coming into being and prepare the ground for the next layer of clarity to emerge.

If you are in chrysalis time, this is your work. All of it – the acceptance, the compassion, and the proactive inquiry into what is emerging.

If you are not in chrysalis time, think of someone in your life who is. Send this along to them if you think it might help them.

And if you’ve been judging someone in your life (or yourself) as being lost or lazy or unclear or flighty or slow, take a second look: maybe that person is just in chrysalis. Love them, even if it’s a little harder to do that now with their cocoon shell there. They will be bolstered by it.




Confidence of the Ego, Steadiness of the Soul

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about how we often confuse confidence of the ego with steadiness of the soul. Here’s how I experience the difference between these two:

Confidence of the Ego

Confidence of the ego is boosted only by things that come from outside of me, like how I’m seen by others.

Confidence of the ego likes numbers (money numbers, audience size numbers, 1st place, etc.).

Confidence of the ego is fueled by the hunger for outer information to heal an inner fear/suspicion that I’m not okay.

Confidence of the ego is insatiable. It always needs to be reaffirmed, and it has no real memory of past validations or accomplishments.

Confidence of the ego is a little touchy, easily threatened, doesn’t like things that challenge it.

Because it depends on others’ estimations, confidence of the ego forces its host to conform to the trends and values of her particular time, place, culture.

Steadiness of the Soul

Steadiness of the soul is fueled by purpose, by the deep-seated desire to service.

Steadiness of the soul is willing to go forward not because of “me” but because of a devotion to values, energies, purposes that I feel need my hands and mind and feet to work on their behalf.

Steadiness of the soul stems not from others’ responses to me, but from a genuine knowing of myself as an expression of the divine. I’m worthy not because I’m better than but because I’m made of divinity, just like everyone else.

Steadiness of the soul is not so much willing to fail, as it is in understanding that there is no failure; there is only reality revealing itself in interesting ways.

Steadiness of the soul slows down to fully experience the journey on the way to the outcomes.

This week’s practice is to move more into steadiness of the soul.


Remember you aren’t supposed to know how to do it all, or do it all well, by yourself. Since you are human, there is room for asking for help, of people and of the divine.

Shift your focus away from how others see you, and back to who you want to serve. Holding them close in your mind and heart. Do your work to help them, not to be celebrated by anyone.

And remember the why, the deepest why, behind the work you are doing.

What do you notice happens when you do your work with the steadiness of the soul?



Let us know how your weekly practice is going! Join our private Facebook group to share about your experiences and insights.

[weekly practice] go find out.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that sometimes we talk about business, strategy, technique – our effectiveness in the world. And sometimes we dive into the domain of the soul, spirituality, the inner life. And we talk about that nexus where life brings both together.

Last week we were in fairly metaphysical territory, and so this week I want to lean way over to the other side of things – the earthly, tactical side.

Here’s my challenge to you, for this week’s practice: Pick something in your work that failed, and go get feedback about it. Real feedback, from real live people. At least three of them.

All of us who are entrepreneurs have had failures – times when we’ve put something out into the marketplace and no one bought it. All of us who are creators have had failures – making art or publishing a piece of writing, and no one responded to it or it didn’t resonate with people in the way we’d hoped.

And if you work inside an organization, you’ve had other forms of this experience. Perhaps you’ve shared an idea with your team and no one responded with support or enthusiasm. Or you pitched a big new project to your boss and it was turned down, for unclear reasons.

Often in our pain about these experiences, we just shut them away. Sometimes we avoid the people or product or idea that was involved. Sometimes we search for an explanation of what happened and, in our own minds, make one up.

Rarely do we do what I believe is the thing to do.

Go find out what happened.

Pick up the phone and talk to five of the people who knew about this thing and didn’t buy. Did they get the information about it? What did they think it was? Is that aligned with what you meant to communicate about it? Did they think it was for people like them? Did they want it? You need to know all of this.

Or, if you are inside an organization, write a note to a few of the team members whom you shared that idea with, who never jumped in. Did they even hear your idea? Did they understand it? Did it appeal? Was it politically dangerous to go for? Go learn what was happening.

This is what makes the failure productive. This is what makes it not a waste of time.

But to do this safely, so that our hearts and morale come out intact, you’ll need a kind of protective suit, and that suit is your mindset. You’ll need to look at feedback in a particular way – not as information about your worth or your worthiness, but rather as information about the people giving the feedback.

You seek this feedback not to decide if you should be an artist or not, or if you are good at your career, or if you measure up to some standard, but rather to gather data on the preferences, priorities, and needs of your stakeholders so you can be more effective with them. That is it.

So this week, recall something that failed. Go get real feedback on what happened from the people it failed with. I’ll honor our practice by doing the same with a recent “crickets” moment in my business.

And then let’s use what we learn as we create our next thing.

Join us over in the private Facebook group to share what you discovered.



P.S. Remember the Emerging Women Live conference I shared about earlier? Great news! Our special discount has been extended through July 31st. I’m not speaking this year, but the lineup is phenomenal. If you would like to attend this one-of-a-kind women’s leadership event, register here and use the coupon code TaraMohr2017 to receive $300 off the current ticket price.

What could this be for?

There’s a fascinating study about creativity and child development in which adults introduce a new toy to children in two different ways.

In the first scenario, the adult introduces the new toy to a child and explains that they (the adult) know how to use the toy, and that they are going to teach the child to use it.

In the second scenario, the adult acts more naïve – “I just found this! I wonder how it works?” They give no explanation to the child about what it is.

Guess what happens?

Children in the second scenario – those who weren’t told how to use the toy – show more interest in the toy and explore it for more time. It is more engrossing because on their own, they get to figure out what it’s for and how it is to be used, engaging their curiosity, their problem-solving instincts, and their imagination.

So with my son, more and more, when we encounter a new object or toy, I try to ask the question, “Hmmm, what could this be for?” It’s amazing to watch how this question generates his creativity and suddenly awakens his energy.

Today I want to talk about this idea not in terms of toys or child development, but in terms of how it might apply to us, the grown ups.

When we encounter a new experience or relationship, does the inner adult inside of us say, “I know what to do with this. I know what this is and how it works.”

Or, does the inner adult in us say, “Wow, what’s this!? I wonder what it is. I wonder how it works. I wonder what it could be for.”

Of course, we don’t have bandwidth to encounter every moment of our days this way. But we do all have the time and energy – and, I’d argue, spiritual and emotional need – to bring this stance to at least a few of the moments in each day. And we can be so helped by bringing those questions to the tough challenges in our lives, the important junctures, the events that don’t seem to make sense, and to relationships new and old.

“Wow, what’s this?” and “I wonder how it will work?” are powerful questions to ask of our experiences. They spark curiosity and creativity and help us live in the present. This is all good. But for me the most powerful question to ask of my experiences is that third one: “I wonder, what could this be for?”

What could this be for?

By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve all developed a lot of beliefs about what various experiences are for.

This is going to the bank and it is for making a deposit or getting some cash.
This is going to the gym and it’s for exercise.
This is a friendship and it’s for fun, and advice, and support.
This is arguing with my partner about money and it’s for making sure we don’t end up in financial trouble.

You might complete these sentences differently than I just have but, the point is, you’d know how you want to complete them because you’ve got ideas about what all these experiences are for.

Those ideas help us cope with uncertainty and get through our days without cognitive and emotional overload. But, they also create a kind of fog that prevents us from seeing the freshness, the possibilities, and the hidden curriculum that lies within our experiences.

My son is starting preschool. There are obvious answers – conditioned ones – about what that experience is for, for him and for our family.

But if I ask with wonder and humility, “What might this be for?” and then really pay attention – to what the experience is bringing forth in him and in each member of our family – I start to see things differently. I get some hints of interesting answers. I start to see that this experience is causing each of us to grow in some very specific ways.

If you started to ask this question of what is happening in your life right now, what might you see?

Maybe arguing with your partner about money today is for learning one more time what hurts so much about arguing, to get closer to being willing to communicate in a new way. Or maybe it is for feeling again the pain of a childhood relationship dynamic around money, so that you can heal it. Or maybe it’s clarifying your own values around your financial life.

Maybe this unfortunate chilling in a relationship with a friend is to learn the power of being more honest, and to practice speaking a truth, or to experience what happens when you let your guard down. Or maybe it is for you to learn what you can and can’t change.

What could this be for?

What could this (pain, suffering, learning, challenge, new experience, mundane experience, happy experience) be for in my healing, or someone else’s? What could this be for in terms of connection, learning, forgiveness, growth?

In other words: what could this be for, in its sacred purpose?

I believe this: the experience of our lives is the “text.” But there is always rich subtext, which is everything going on beneath the surface level of the experience, and beyond the conventional labels we’ve been trained to put on that experience.

Beneath the surface level is the level in which all experience is curriculum for evolution, for learning forgiveness, for discovering how deep reality works, for remembering the truth of who we are.

You can sink beneath the text of your experience.
You can open to learning the deeper curriculum it carries.

Whatever is happening, you can ask – with wonder, with humility, with devotion to seeing the good that can come from anything, “What could this be for?”



Join us over in the private Facebook group to share what this question reveals for you.

On the Hard Days…

Last week we talked about the power of creativity – and how simple acts of “everyday creativity” leave us feeling more energized, enthusiastic, connected, and purposeful.

Today I want to talk about the other direction: does being in a great mood help us be creative?

The findings on this are pretty interesting. Some studies show that positive affect (enthusiasm, cheerfulness, calm) does increase a person’s likelihood to be creative – but, here’s the catch: only on the same day as their good mood.

In other words, a good mood on Monday will make it easier for you to do creative things on Monday, but it has no impact on whether you’ll be creative on Tuesday. Tuesday’s state of mind will drive that.

We start all over – a blank slate – needing our own rituals and routines (or the good mood of that day if you are lucky) to help us be more creative. All of us who are trying to be consistently creative know this already, right?!

If a good mood makes you more likely to be creative on any given day, the corollary is that it will be harder to get yourself to do a creative activity when you are feeling down, which is often when you need that healing power of creativity most.

So, think about how you can give yourself extra supports – creative rituals, time blocked off in your calendar, an accountability buddy – if you want to be creative (and get the mood lift that comes with it) when you are feeling down.

For this week’s weekly practice, here’s what I want to invite you to do:

Be creative in some way each day. You can do this by engaging in a little art-making daily, but more simply you can do it by taking a new or original approach to the mundane and regular things you do in the day. Get creative with what you cook for dinner, or what you wear for the day. Make up a song on your commute, or add fifteen minutes of improv dance to your evening routine. (If you didn’t yet, download my 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative HERE.)

Notice how your mood impacts whether you find it easy or hard to do something creative. Recognize that (if your experience is aligned with the research) it’s probably going to be harder to be creative when your mood is gloomy or angry, and give yourself lots of extra supports for being creative on these days. Or, give yourself a structure (like a time in your calendar) or some reminders to be creative every day, so it will be there for you when it is hard.

Join us for a conversation about this in the Weekly Practice Facebook group. And, once again, get the 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative download HERE.