Review: Playing Big

Since the start of the new year I’ve been getting back into regular reading. Committing to at least ten pages a day. I’ve found this approach worked well for me when I was getting back into shape after having Marc. Ten minutes of exercise first thing and after the kids have gone to bed has become a regular part of my day. I feel healthier and happier because of it.

I’ve been reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr. Each chapter in the book delves into something which could be holding you back.

The chapters start by looking at case studies of women who have experienced this. They help you identify what the behaviour looks like and why it has a negative impact.

The author tackles concerns you may have with leaving the behaviour behind. For example the chapter on inner critic acknowledges that people can view it as a motivator and that can be the case. It outlines the costs of motivating yourself this way. Later in the book, the chapter on calling, provides a positive framework to find motivation without beating yourself up.

Practical, actionable advice is given on how to move away from the negative behaviour. Journaling questions are included at the end of each chapter. They help you explore your experience of it and develop a personal strategy to find a better way of doing things going forward.

The topics covered include:

  • Inner Critic: The internal voice that is self doubt. It prevents you from doing things because you might get hurt or fail. Being aware of you inner critic reduces the hold it has over you.

  • The Voice of Inner Wisdom: The book encourages you to move away from the inner critic and relying on external advice. To recognising that often you have the answers yourself. It looks at developing an understanding of the person you want to become in the future.

  • A Very Old New Way of Looking at Fear: Recognising that there are different types of fear. One is the fear of projected or imagined things which we need to recognise and manage. The second is the feeling we get when we do something new or bigger and this should be welcomed.

  • Unhooking from Praise and Criticism: Being able to share our ideas, even if controversal, by not needing praise or fearing receiving criticism. Feedback shouldn’t be taken personally instead used to change how you do things to reach and influence your audience.

  • Leaving Good-Student Habits Behind: This chapter looks at how school fails to teach many skills that are crucial to leading. We need to learn to improvise, draw on and trust what we already know. Make our work visible and be willing to challenge authority.

  • Hiding: This section looks at sharing ideas early rather than waiting for everything to be perfectly formed. We need to stop putting false hurdles in place like thinking we need more training. We shouldn’t collect other peoples’ thoughts without sharing our own.

  • Leaping: The antidote of hiding. Learning to help us achieve our bigger aim. A leap is something simple you can do in a week or two. It gets your adrenaline flowing and puts you in contact with your end audience. The outcome of a leap is an answer to a question. It helps you learn quickly what works like a spike in development.

  • Communicating with Power: This chapter identifies speech habits that can reduce the impact of our communication. Using them can undermine our perceived ability.

  • Callings: What a calling is. How to identify your’s and pursue it. Not being put off by a lack of skills/experience (this can be developed) or lack of time (it doesn’t have to engulf your whole life)

  • Let it Be Easy: The value of reframing goals to be kinder. An examples of this is moving from “Clean up my messy house” to “Keeping the house organised enough that it supports the sense of calm I want each day”. Moving from criticism to self care. Putting support in place to help you succeed rather than relying on willpower.

  • Joining the New Transition Team: Recognising that we have the ability to change how things are done. We bring a different perspective and way of doing things.

  • New Motherhood and Playing Big: Not limiting yourself based on the experiences or views of others on motherhood. Quietening down the inner critic and taking a step back to see what you are capable of. Recognising you are still you as well as being a mother. Allowing yourself to pursue things that bring you joy. Doing this and caring for yourself allows you to come back to motherhood refreshed.

To get the most out of this book I need to apply it and make changes in how I think about and approach aspects of my life. I intend to pick one or two things to work on and start practicing them until they become default. I’m going to revisit the journaling questions to help me understand how to achieve it. Setting a regular reminder in my calendar to reflect on how I’m getting on will ensure I’m aware of my progress.

If you feel like your thoughts or actions are holding you back from doing what you want to do this book is worth a read. Although aimed at women the advice applies to men who feel they are held back.