I can still remember that night like it was yesterday – even though now it was almost a decade ago.

I was up in the middle of the night, sitting alone in the living room of our high-rise apartment, looking out onto nighttime lights of the city.

I couldn’t sleep because, to be honest, there was a knot of sadness in my chest that wouldn’t leave me.

So instead I was awake, asking myself why my days felt more gray than full color, why I didn’t feel excited or optimistic about my life, even though I seemed to have every reason to – a good job, a wonderful relationship, and so many other blessings.

Yet I had the sense that if I just kept doing the job I had (or the promotions that would come after it), I would end up with regret, knowing that in some way I had not done what I came here to do. (I didn’t know clearly what that was, however.)

That night, one clear thought announced itself to me: Tara, you are being more loyal to your fears than to your dreams.

It was absolutely true.

That thought set me on a journey. I started working with a coach, who lovingly helped me unearth the dreams that had been waiting inside of me, buried or rationalized away.

I started investigating my own self-doubt, perfectionism and fear, the internal barriers I harbored as a woman wanting to share her voice, to contribute, to create – but who was never taught how in a world that doesn’t embrace women who speak up.

As I learned new tools and ideas from the worlds of psychology, coaching, and spirituality, and put them into practice, I changed, and my life changed.

I started writing again, reclaiming something that had always given me so much joy, but that fear and self-judgement had made impossible. I found my way to managing my inner critic so that I could put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard), write what I really had to say, and even press “publish,” sharing blog posts publicly. Huge change.

I started to recreate my home, my dress, and the way I spent my time to reflect what felt like a more authentic me.

And then, with the momentum of all those changes, I was ready for the bigger one. I admitted and accepted that the kind of work I wanted to do was in the realm of personal growth, spirituality, creativity – even though I could hear inside my head the scoffing and judgements I imagined would come from the cultures I was moving out of – traditional business, philanthropy, and prestigious academic institutions.

Slowly I shifted course. Slowly, I learned how to place my loyalty back on the side of my dreams. Yes, I brought everything I’d learned and become from those other milleus (business school, the philanthropy world, an Ivy League education) with me, with gratitude for the strengths and lessons they offered. But I used them to support my desired path, not stand in the way of it.

After getting an extensive training in coaching skills, I started working with coaching clients, and I was stunned by the phenomenon that I saw.

My clients were mostly women who wanted to do work they loved or who wanted to make a larger positive difference in some way.

They were so damn capable (like you) but they were holding back and dealing with nearly constant self-doubt (that they didn’t even know was self-doubt because it sounded like the truth in their heads!). They were getting stuck because they were trying to use the diligent, analytical forms of working that had served them well in their careers and in school. As I had learned for myself, those are absolutely the wrong tools for the task.

I felt a huge sense of responsibility to help these women get the changes they wanted in their lives – after all, they were coming to me and paying money for coaching, for results!

So I became dedicated to discovering what truly made a transformative difference in allowing my clients to play bigger in just the ways they wanted to. I took pieces – pieces of what had helped me learn to play bigger, pieces of what I saw working for them, and refined, wove together, sifted, learned more, and refined into the Playing Big model that I’ve now written and taught about for the past eight years.

What my clients needed was different from the usual coaching model and professional development toolkit, because there are unique challenges for women looking to create, speak up, and lead.

The Playing Big approach runs counter to the usual thinking on mentorship, confidence, fear, feedback, and communication – and is so distinctive it’s been featured in news media ranging from Harvard Business Review to goop to The New York Times.

In my own life, the results of using these tools are many, from regaining a creative and writing life that I love, to publishing a book, to serving on nonprofit boards for causes I’m passionate about, to speaking on stages that would have terrified me years ago. They’ve also changed how I feel in my life and work – more free in sharing my voice and my perspective, more improvisational and at ease creating and making things happen, so that I can make the difference I want to make, and, of course have a more fun and exciting life and career. Sure, I absolutely still have my playing big edges, but I also have tools that work to apply to them.

More than two thousand graduates of our Playing Big course have reported the amazing results in their own lives – from starting businesses, to shifting careers into work that excites them more, to negotiating for the job (or title, or pay) they want, to picking up beloved creative or other hobbies again that bring them alive.

Our next Playing Big online course is starting soon, and we’d love for you to join.

If you’ve already gotten started with the Playing Big book, fabulous! The course is a way to apply the learnings to your life in a paced, supported way. You’ll put the concepts into practice. You’ll have the opportunity for lots of discussion, coaching from me, and time to get your questions answered. And you’ll get a wealth of resources not included in the book.

A little more about the Playing Big program:

    •   It is based entirely on time-tested, proven tools that have been shown again and again to work.

    •   Our 12-module curriculum teaches you how to manage self-doubt and fear, how to communicate and negotiate with power, how to clarify your vision and access your own unfailing inner wisdom and much more, so that you can do the work you most want to do in the world – and get all the joy and fulfillment that comes with that.

    •   Warning! You may make some new friends or find some new collaborators in this course! Our discussion group, small group option, and community calls forge amazing connections of like-minded women all across the globe.

    •   The program is taught in a flexible way – so you can listen, watch, or read at your convenience, making it work with your busy schedule.

    •   You cannot fall behind. The program is structured so that you can plug into whatever module we are on (even if you missed one) and catch up on what you’ve missed when time allows.

    •   This is not a mass automated experience. In order for you to be supported, get your questions answered, and feel truly connected to our community, I am fully present with you every step of the course, in live course calls with teaching, coaching and Q&A.

Lastly, I’ll say this. We know that you don’t want to add more to your to do list or feel more striving or overwhelm in your life. You’ll be getting tools that help you play bigger not by doing more, or working harder, but rather by aligning your life with what you really want. You’ll be able to play bigger in a way that is not exhausting, but energizing. Turns out playing small is way more tiring than playing big – I promise.

What comes next is simply learning more. Please sign up if you’d like to receive details on the program curriculum, format and graduates’ experiences, so that you can discern if it’s right for you. We’ll send you further information right away.

Here’s to your playing bigger!

Love, Tara