Remember that beach vacation when you were a kid and your older sibling was off chasing boys (or girls) and you were on your own? And your parents, who were more interested in their sangria than managing your social life, distractedly waved you off to “go make a friend” and it seemed impossible in that moment until you saw HER and went over and said: “let’s be friends” and she said yes?
For me, that was Tara Sophia Mohr. We’ve been hanging out on the same beach for a while now and I’ve always been curious about her and her sandcastles (they always seem SO WELL put together). And do you recall the 2012 planning post wherein I declared my search for a publicist and I committed to “Ask my coaching colleagues/peers who they work with (by Dec 31, 2011)”?
That’s what I did. I asked the girl with the well constructed (and beautiful) sandcastle for a Skype chat and she said yes.
I knew she was wise. I knew she was wonderful. What I wasn’t prepared for was how WARM she is. (Frequent and regular Skype tea dates are in the works.)
If you don’t know her, here’s what she’s up to in this world. She’s an expert on women's leadership and women's wellbeing. She has created the wildly popular "10 Rules for Brilliant Women" and the 6-month Playing Big women's leadership program (full disclosure: that there is an affiliate link), Tara's work has been featured on The Today Show, ForbesWoman, USA Today, More Magazine and is regularly published in Huffington Post. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her MBA from Stanford University. Tara is also the author of Your Other Names: Poems for Wise Living.
Cerebral and soulful stuff. Interested in hearing about her path? Me too.
What's your thing?
Tara Sophia Mohr: My thing is being Tara. These days (these years, really,) that generally looks like this:
- bringing women’s voices into the world
- helping women play bigger
- speaking-writing-communicating to bring about the world I want to see. every day there is something new to say. I love saying it.
- letting poems come through.
- creating beauty. basking in beauty.
- laughing in community, being with friends, being over the moon happy that you (and you, and you and you) exist and are right here, with me!
- being silly and dancing around the apartment cracking up my husband.
- compassion, compassion, compassion, because compassion is the natural expression of wisdom, the fruit of seeing things as they really are.
Note on the above: nothing in my life is linear. So please picture these words in a big swirling circle, not in a list.
Was finding your thing the result of a divine revelation, an insane invention, a culmination of insights...or something else?
Tara Sophia Mohr: It was a return. It was a return to my childhood dreams. I’m not someone who was fundamentally confused about what my thing was, though I spent many years saying “I don’t know what my thing is.” Translation: “My thing might be that thing I’ve been dreaming of since I was five, but frankly that thing seems too impractical and scary to go for, so I’ll ignore that and take some career assessment tests instead.”
I don’t think we all “find” our things. I did some combination of remember, recover, listen and experiment my way into my thing.
There was a time in my life about four years ago when I made a pretty radical shift toward living a more authentic life and career. I don’t know what caused that to happen on one day and not another, but the change felt precipitated by intensifying pain: the pain of the inauthentic way of living grew great enough that I was willing to face the discomfort involved in change.
When the old shoe really, really, really gets uncomfortable? That’s when I often start to make change. But what causes the shoe to get uncomfortable at a certain point? Something mysterious, something that has to do, I believe, with the timeline of our soul’s unfoldment.
Obstacles/fears/doubts – what were they, how'd you vanquish them?
Tara Sophia Mohr: For me, life has often felt like trying to sew together two pieces of fabric: one piece is my authentic self. The things she loves. Her natural, confident, uninhibited, blissed-out self. Picture a happy five year old, totally unself-conscious, in her element, doing her thing. That’s piece of fabric #1.
The other piece of fabric is the world: the more competitive, judgmental landscape where that natural self was not always welcomed or safe or validated.
How to sew the two together? How to make them connected, so I can move across them easily? How to walk in the world as my authentic self comfortably and confidently – to say what I had to say – no matter how radical or how ridiculed?
That has been my primary challenge. What has helped me has been in part outer: having powerful support people in my life –community, teachers, friends – who gave me tools and championed my dreams when I was just getting started in listening to them and acknowledging them. But inner work has been equally important, particularly work around 1) clarifying my vision 2) understanding what the inner critic is and how it operates and 3) getting wise about how to deal with fear.
The programs I lead are very informed by what has most helped me – and what most helps the other women I work with.
What questions did you ask yourself to trigger your a-ha moments...and what signs and milestones should others be looking for in their journeys?
Tara Sophia Mohr: Some of my favorite questions:
What is my message to share in this situation, my unique truth? (Note: if no one else sees what you are saying or is talking about what you are thinking, that makes your perspective more needed, not less; more valuable not less).
What does my heart need in order to follow itself? (In any situation to ask your heart, “Dear heart: what do you need right now, to follow yourself?”)
How can I be a representative of love in this situation? (This question has saved me a hundred times. Saved me from pettiness, fear-based responses, aggression and brought me right back into love. You be surprised how well it works in business environments too.)
I'm appreciating the notion of the two fabrics. I'm appreciating her powerful questions. I'm appreciating the power of support systems. And I'm appreciating the worn shoe metaphor. I'm appreciating it all.
What are you appreciating?
Please share in the comments or let's talk about this on Facebook OR go ahead and spread her wisdom with your people on Twitter.
Tweetworthy Tara Sophia Mohr-isms (for your sharing pleasure)
- compassion is the natural expression of wisdom - @tarasophia to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs
- Meet challenge with powerful support systems and inner work.- @tarasophia to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs
- finding yur thing may be more like remembering, recovering, listening + experimenting your way in. - @tarasophia http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs
- In challenge, ask: How can I be a representative of love in this situation? - @tarasophia to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs
- In any situation, ask your heart: What do you need right now, to follow yourself? - @tarasophia to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs
- Along yur path, ask: What is my message to share in this sit'n, my unique truth? @tarasophia to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8iXlq #TFThurs