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Last year, I got really into reading self-development books. I read quite a few, but the one that stood out to me as THE BEST, THE ONE, THE ONE YOU CAN'T MISS, was Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr. The title really spoke to me because leadership is something I want to continue striving for. Tara is an expert on women's leadership and has taught thousands of women from around the world.
Playing Big teaches already brilliant women to seek higher achievement and fulfillment by playing bigger and by emboldening themselves to think bigger. So many of us believe (sometimes subconsciously) that we aren't worth very much and that manifests in our daily actions. Playing Big teaches real strategies and practical skills so that you can impact the world more greatly.
The first part of the book goes into depth about why we play small, touching largely on self-doubt (which I've also written about here and here) and unpacking it in ways that really spoke to me. Below is a quote that I circled really big and wrote "THIS" next to - it's nearly impossible not to hear the voice of self-doubt, but it can't rule our lives.
The name of the game is learning how to let the inner critic do its thing, without taking direction from it. The goal is to hear the inner critic's voice but not let that voice determine your choices.
The later chapters of the book are the ones that really spoke to me though. Tara's thoughts on the detriment caused by the habits we learned to succeed in school are so fascinating. The tools we need to succeed as an adult and an entrepreneur, like the ability to challenge authority and influence authority figures, are not taught to us as children. In order to succeed as leaders, we must learn to accept challenge and to challenge others. Not only did this section of the book open my eyes to a whole new behavior system for myself, but it also influenced my parenting and the way I teach my children to lead.
Tara pushes through our reasons to hide from our big-ness, helping us to realize that we don't need anything before we can start playing big to the world.
Can we resist the fear-based tendency to make our work abstract or overly complex and instead trust that our lived experiences, insights, and natural ideas are enough to bring to the table? Often, that kind of authenticity and vulnerability is what is needed to move hearts and create change.
Finally, Tara talks about the way we communicate and this is the part of the book that had the biggest direct impact on my life. She unpacks the way that women (and many men I know too) communicate in order to keep themselves small or to keep themselves liked or seeming less aggressive. These methods we use often adhere to social norms, but keep us from our true potential. I love that Tara is realistic and gives ways for us to change our communication style so that we can still keep that feeling of warmth and kindness, while also being direct. My communication style has been impacted so greatly by her practical advice. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
This book is perfect for anyone looking to reach their highest potential, anyone who wants to lead any type of movement or teach. This book is for anyone who has ever felt stepped on or afraid to get out into the world. This book is for all women - I can't think of a single one who wouldn't benefit from the guidance in Playing Big.