Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

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

up at 3 am

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

Are you feeling the call to play bigger?

Quote from Kelly

Over the years, I’ve learned this: there comes a time in our lives when the life we’ve been living doesn’t quite fit anymore.

What felt fine before starts to feel constraining, or dull, or gray. We slowly come to realize that one chapter of our lives is ending – or has ended – and it’s going to be up to us to create the next chapter, or to discern what path is calling us.

Although these moments can be uncomfortable, they are incredible opportunities. That part of you that yearns for more authenticity, more impact, and an intensified desire to do what holds meaning for you? In these moments, that part is speaking louder, and you have the opportunity to listen.

If it’s one of those times for you, I want to invite you to join me for the upcoming Playing Big Course and sign up for our Early Information list. This is my pioneering class for women who want to play bigger in their work and in their lives. It happens online and by phone, so you can attend from anywhere around the world.

We are now entering our ninth year of making a global impact in teaching women to play much bigger.

I’m always honored by what people have to say about their experiences in the course. Here are a few examples:

“I have gained so much more out of Playing Big than I ever expected. I came in hoping that Playing Big would help me tap into my calling and provide some motivation and tools to pursue it. I did not expect the transformational power of this series. Tara’s tools and exercises get at the heart of playing bigger in a way that is sustainable and that I can keep going back to. I feel that I own my voice more confidently, that I’ve accessed the wisest part of myself, and that I’m showing up more authentically throughout my life. I have strongly recommended this course to all of my friends.” – Betty Chen, Director of Family Engagement at Summit Public Schools

“After attending the Playing Big course, I am much better at communicating from a place of strength. I mentor several colleagues. So often now, concepts we discussed in Playing Big jump out when I’m coaching these ladies. I’m glad I can share some ideas to help them play bigger in their careers. I feel much better about my abilities and contribution in the world. But most of all, I am happier about what I am doing.” – Meg, Finance Executive

I now have a vision that propels me forward every day. I know that my voice is needed and that I have a duty to play big in this life, to heal the world in the way I know best, no matter what my inner critic voices are telling me.” – Amanda Vella, Yoga Teacher and Writer

Our next session starts in mid-March.

If you are interested, all you need to do today is sign up HERE. This will put you on the list to receive details about the course, and give you access to our fabulous early bird discount. Sign up for our Playing Big Early Information list here.

With love & gratitude,


Talking with Teen Vogue


Good morning!

I’m writing today with a few updates …

This month I’m proud to be featured in a Teen Vogue article on mentorship. In the piece, I shared some of my most passionately held beliefs about mentorship, one of them being that we’ve put far too much emphasis on telling women to look outward for answers, and not enough emphasis on encouraging them to tune into their own inner guidance.

In the article, I also got to speak to the idea of the “inner mentor” – that older, wiser you that you can find within and consult for direction and guidance, a concept which many of you know from the Playing Big book. I’m so happy see this idea make it into the mainstream in this way. Special thanks to journalist, Jessica Matlin, for bringing it to this audience.

    Journalist Jessica Matlin who wrote this piece


If you haven’t caught up with Teen Vogue’s incredible coverage and commentary on social and political issues under the leadership of Elaine Welteroth over the past couple of years, check out what they are doing. Read about courageous Editor-in-Chief Welteroth here.

    Teen Vogue EIC, Elaine Welteroth


You can read the full article, How to Get a Mentor, here.

If you haven’t yet, get the Playing Big book here so you can find your own inner mentor.


New Year’s Poem

Dear readers, friends, circle around the world –

Thinking of you in this new year with love. May the year ahead be one of peace, healing, and transformation for the good. A new year’s day poem for you below …


New Year’s Poem

New year. It will not be
what you plan or what you chart.

Remember, dear? It never is.

The lines will not run straight
or the surfaces be smooth.

After all, the curriculum
is given, not chosen.

New year. Today, do not resolve
anything for yourself.
Resolve something for all of us.

The very heart of time is begging us
to never wish for I again,
to only ask for us.

And intention? Do not
even intend anything
or try to name the roads
you want on your map.

Instead, look back
and fall to your knees
for every time you have hurt yourself.


Remember how you loved
before you were born.

Grow more like dust on the earth,
for joy crackles between
the powdery grains of self, not in them.

New year.
Another turn.
Another turn of the sphere.
Another turn to be.


2018 Playing Big Programs

As this year comes to a close and we are all beginning to turn our thoughts to the next one, I want to share with you what’s coming up for our programs in 2018.

If you are new here, you know I write regularly, but you may not know that I also lead courses that allow you to go deeper with your learning in a community of women.

If you want to use your voice more fully, experience less self-doubt and fear, and gain greater access to your inner wisdom, then my Playing Big course is for you. The next session of Playing Big will be taking place March – August 2018.

If you are also feeling a call to help other women play bigger, the Playing Big Facilitators Training is for you. This course is for women who want to use the Playing Big model in their own lives and careers AND who also want to bring it into their work mentoring, managing, coaching or counseling others. Our next session will be starting in October 2018.

All of my courses are taught online so you can attend from anywhere in the world, and they have a flexible format that works with busy schedules.

Here’s what a couple of graduates have to say about our programs …

“Playing Big is a game changer. It exceeded my expectations in every way. Clear, well-designed modules that manage to be elegantly simple, yet profound. The program has helped me to gain clearer and clearer vision about my own work, and also provided the framework to push myself out of my comfort zone – without fear.”

Sarah Neville, Director, Open Line Communications

“This is an amazing course! It helped me figure out what my ‘playing bigger’ looks like and how it could be different as life evolves. The course is a nice balance of practical tools, self-reflection and guidance from Tara and resonant stories from others. I thought it was fabulous that I could do this with my own time and without judgment. Overall, I would highly recommend this (and have been) to other women who desire to make a bigger difference in their lives in an authentic way.”

Zeryn Sarpangal, Vice President of Human Resources & Corporate Affairs at Achaogen, Inc.

If you have interest in learning more about either program (or both — many women have taken both courses and they work great in combination with each other), click HERE to get on our Advanced Notice list so you’ll receive program details and be the first to know when registration opens (and get access to our early bird discounts!).

When you sign up, you’ll also be able to download our 2018 Playing Big Program Guide with details about our programs. This is a helpful document you can share with your organization if you are seeking funding from them. Many of our participants have had great success with having their employers sponsor their leadership development. (We know this can be a lengthy process at some companies and institutions, so we wanted to get these supporting materials to you well in advance.)

We hope you’ll join us for a fabulous experience of community, growth and learning in 2018!