Tara Mohr

For Life on Purpose Episode #79, my guest is author and women’s leadership expert Tara Mohr, who gives women (and the men in her audience/community) the practical skills to voice and implement the changes they want to see—in themselves and in the world.

Tara joined me for a great conversation on her new book Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, which was named a best book of the year by Apple’s iBooks. It provides real, practical tools to help women quiet self-doubt, identify their callings, “unhook” from praise and criticism, unlearn counterproductive “good girl” habits, and begin taking bold action.

“How did Playing Big come to be? I felt like all around me, I saw women playing small. Brilliant women with fabulous ideas, provocative questions, visions for how the world could be different and better. But those ideas and visions and questions weren’t being voiced. And I was very attuned to that because I was struggling with that myself.

I sent out a survey and asked my readers and asked them, ‘What’s the biggest challenge in your life?’ and I listed a bunch of the challenges that we typically think loom so large in women’s lives. But because of what I’d seen again and again, I added one more challenge to the list, ‘I’m playing small.’ When the survey responses came back, ‘I’m playing small’ was what the most women deemed the biggest challenge in their lives.”

About Tara Mohr:

Tara Mohr is an expert on women’s leadership and well-being. She helps women play bigger in sharing their voices and bringing forward their ideas in work and in life.

Tara is the author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, named a best book of the year by Apple’s iBooks and now in paperback. In the book, she shares her pioneering model for making the journey from playing small–being held back by fear and self-doubt–to playing big, taking bold action to pursue what you see as your callings.

Tara is the creator of the Playing Big leadership program for women, which now has more than 1,500 graduates from around the world, and creator of the global Playing Big Facilitators Training for coaches, therapists, leadership development professionals and other practitioners supporting women in their personal and professional growth.

A Coaches Training Institute-certified coach with an MBA from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree in English literature from Yale, Tara takes a unique approach that blends inner work and practical skills training.

Her work has been featured on national media from The New York Times to The Today Show to The Harvard Business Review, and has captivated women from all walks of life.

To learn more about Tara and her work, visit: http://www.taramohr.com/.

More About Tara Mohr: Dreams & Oatmeal

I had an unusual childhood. I was seven years old before I learned that not all children analyzed their dreams each morning at the breakfast table with mom and dad, diagramming the archetypes on a yellow pad, next to the bowl of oatmeal. When I came home with a typical childhood complaint like “Johnny teased me at recess,” I was usually met with “What do you think is going on at home for Johnny that would cause him to tease other kids?”

My parents weren’t psychotherapists, religious fanatics, or even hippies. They were regular people who believed that understanding oneself and others was an essential part of living a happy life. From an early age, I was encouraged to learn about psychology and spirituality and apply tools from both arenas to my daily life. Our house was full of books on those subjects and I grew up reading them.

But I was also trying to navigate a very different world: school. One world put spirituality at the center of everything; the other was vehemently secular. One valued intuition and inner wisdom; the other held data and logic as our primary tools for knowing. One maintained that each human being was an expression of the divine with equally precious gifts; the other put kids in competitive rankings against each other.

I’ve spent much of my life learning to navigate both worlds simultaneously – to fill my mind with education but not let information eclipse inner wisdom. To use the mind, but not allow it to trample the heart.

Amplifying Women’s Voices

When I was fifteen years old, my high school English teacher explained that our class would read a variety of books centered around the theme “Coming of Age”– Black Boy, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, and others, over the course of the year.

I looked at the list and saw that all the books were about boys coming of age. All were written by men. I knew very well – from my own experience of being a fifteen year old – that the story of girls coming of age was very different from that of boys. I saw that so much of my education – and my community – had exactly this problem: women’s voices were missing.

I felt so called to do something about it that I worked to get my school’s curriculum changed – and did. That was my foundational experience following the calling that continues to be at the heart of my work: to restore women’s voices where they are missing.

Over the last several years I’ve dived deep into women’s lives and struggles to play bigger – working with them as a coach, leading training programs, and supporting more than 20,000 of them through writing published weekly at this site.

In my coaching practice, and among my women friends and colleagues, I saw the same thing again and again: brilliant women whose ideas and leadership could change the world, except that they didn’t see, believe in, or trust their own brilliance. My work evolved to focus on helping women play bigger, for the sake of their own fulfillment and for the sake of the world.

My approach to women’s leadership and wellbeing bridges those two worlds I grew up with: inner and outer work, mind and heart, learned knowledge, and intuitive wisdom. It blends together my own personal journey losing my voice, finding it again, and learning to playing bigger; my lessons learned from working with hundreds of women as clients, students and workshop attendees; my MBA training in leadership and innovation; my training as a coach; and my lifelong passion for spirituality and psychology.