All, I give you Tara Mohr…!!
Me: Please give a brief overview of who you are and what you do.
Tara: I’m a writer and coach, and my work focuses on helping women fulfill their full potential in life and work – to lead and create more boldly, to show up more authentically in their lives. I bring a unique background to this work – I have an MBA from Stanford and a background in leadership and organizational change – and combine that a lifelong passion for spirituality and personal growth work, as well as training as a coach. The women that connect with my work really appreciate the blend of mind and heart, spirituality and practicality, inner transformation and outer impact.
Me: In a recent article you wrote for the Huffington Post, you spoke about the phrase “Playing Big”. Could you elaborate on that idea?
Tara: Several months ago, I wrote an article called 10 Rules for Brilliant Women. It was about how I coach so many brilliant women – women with tremendous creative gifts and incredible ideas that could change the world. The problem? They don’t recognize their brilliance, or own it in the world.
Playing Big is really about leaving all that behind, and moving into a new way of being where we trust our creative impulses more fully, put ourselves and our work on the world’s stage, and stand behind our ideas more tenaciously and bravely. It’s about letting our voices flow freely from us – instead of stopping them up with self-doubt.
I sometimes think about how on the average Saturday morning walk with my girlfriends, I hear so many ideas and insights that could change the world – and I hear them from ethical, smart, creative women who we’d all benefit from having in positions of leadership. Playing Big is about those ideas being at the tables that matter, and those women having more power to change our world.
I think that women need inner work – around self-doubt and trusting their voices to Play Big, but they also need “outer work” training in specific skills and connection to resources – in order to have a big impact in the world.
Me: Sometimes we give in to doubting our own abilities and talents, which can lead to more paralyzing negative thoughts. Why do you think so many of us get stuck in this train of thought, and what can be done to break free of it?
Tara: It’s a great question. There are a few reasons “why” we get stuck here. We are all wired to avoid potential failure, humiliation, or rejection. Self-doubt is actually a way we can stay safe from those outcomes – because self-doubt keeps us from taking the leaps that might lead to criticism or failure. On top of that, there are cultural factors that contribute to self-doubt for women. And then there are negative individual experiences we’ve had that can get stuck in us like a broken record, and contribute to self-doubt. But the “why” is a lot less important than the question of what can be done about self-doubt. It turns out that there are simple tools and practices we can use to significantly lessen self-doubt, and much of the work I do with women is about teaching them those tools.
The first thing I recommend is to start recognizing your inner critic when it shows up. You’ll know your inner critic because it’s repetitive, irrational, and it’s voice usually has a kind of anxious, chattering tone to it. Sit down with your journal and just inventory the things your critic says, or keep notes over a few days. What does it say about your appearance? Your capabilities?
Then, imagine: if this voice were a person, what kind of person would it be: male, female, old, young? Create a character for this voice. For example, I’ve had clients whose inner critic was a stern professor or anxious, worrying old woman. Then give your critic a name. The name could be a regular name like Lucy, or a word (one of my inner critic voices is called “perfectionista”).
Start naming your critic when he/she shows up, just like ths: “Hi Lucy. Thanks for sharing your input.”
This brings a lightness and humor to the whole inner critic thing and most importantly, it allows you to separate yourself from that voice. We tend to conflate our own best thinking with that voice, but really, it’s very separate from who we really are. In the separation from it, we have choice: do I want to listen to this voice or not? Does it help me or hinder me? Do I have any evidence that what it is saying is true?
Me: You’re launching a new woman’s leadership and professional development program called Playing Big. Can you talk a little bit more about the program and what led you to create it?
Yes. I’m so excited about this! It came out of the reality that so many creative, talented women are playing small. They know it, and they want to change it.
But how do we do that? How do we start playing big?
I believe we need a mix, a recipe so to speak, of several components. We need a supportive community of like-minded women. We need practices to overcome self-doubt and fear, and let go of our attachment to praise and people-pleasing. We need tools to help us clarify our purpose or calling in the world. That’s the inner work. But we also need “outer work” -- practical skills training – in negotiation, pitching/self-promoting, public speaking/communication, getting media attention – what I call “critical skills for world-changing.” The program includes all of those components.
We also have an incredible host of outside experts sharing their wisdom in the program – women like #1 NY Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, Kiva.org founder Jessica Jackley, Shutter Sisters founder Tracey Clark, best-selling author Jennifer Louden, and many others.
The program ends with each woman leaping into action and doing a “playing big” project, with the support of the other women in the program.
I want to thank Tara for warmly sharing her thoughts with us. If you have any questions for Tara or want to share your thoughts on what was said on today’s interview; please feel free to comment below.
Receive cool freebies when you register for the Playing Big program today! This is a perfect opportunity to those of you who are pursuing your passions or need help sharing your ideas or creativity with the world. For more information on the program, I encourage you to check it out and sign up here!
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Note: This interview ran a bit a long so we had to cut it short. But to see more of the interview, please free to click here.