Tara is the founder of the global Playing Big women’s leadership program and author of the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook. Tara has spent her life finding ways to help women live out their dreams and have an impact in the world. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, CNN, Forbes, and many other publications. Here is her story and how she got to where she is today:
1. Tell me about yourself and your current work
My work is helping women play bigger in their work in the world.
So many women have the sense that they are playing small in some way, and they want to change it, but they just don’t know how. Through my articles, courses and programs, I help women walk that step-by-step journey to playing bigger and following their professional dreams.
2. Did you always have a passion for helping women achieve their full potential?
Yes, since I was very young. I have a passion for bringing women’s voices into the world –creating a world that is equally reflective of women’s and men’s perspectives.
When I was in high school, my English teacher announced we’d be studying the theme of “coming of age” for the year – reading a variety of novels that told the stories of young people coming into adulthood. Turned out they were all about men and they were all written by men! I was stunned that we were actually going to act as if we were covering the topic of “coming of age” in some kind of comprehensive way while totally ignoring women’s experiences. I started a project to change the curriculum to include literature written by women – that was my first experience of really putting this passion into action.
3. What has been your biggest struggle in getting to where you are today?
My own inner critic. That voice in my head that is afraid I’m not good enough, didn’t prepare enough, that I don’t know enough.
That’s what holds me back, and I know I’m not alone! That’s why part of my work now is teaching women how to quiet their own inner critics.
I never knew there was anything we could do about all that self-doubt! I was shocked when I got into adulthood and learned we could actually learn how to be more conscious of and more effective in dealing with our own self-doubt.
Many women think there is nothing they can do about insecurities – or they think that someday, with enough experience, they are just going to become confident and the inner critic voice will go away. Neither is true. Our inner critics will be with us as long as we are stretching out of our comfort zones – no matter how successful we are. But there are skills we can learn that allow us to no longer be held back by that inner critic – and that’s part of what I teach in my courses. When you have those skills, you can live, work, play and love no longer hampered by your inner critic.
4. What inspires you in life?
My garden. Beautiful interior spaces. Great books. Dancing. Dogs. My desire to see a world full of empowered human beings – women and men.
5. What women did you look up to and go to for advice when you were starting your career?
There are so many women I admire for diverse reasons but among my favorites are: Oprah, writer Anne Lamott, Arianna Huffington, and scholar Karen Armstrong.
7. What is one thing you wish you would have known earlier on?
That it is more important to choose the path that feels right than to choose the most prestigious path.
8. How do you stay motivated?
I am doing the work that I have a natural passion for – so my motivation doesn’t fade. When I do get a bit burnt out, I find it’s usually because my business has grown and the activities that used to be productive for me now need to be delegated to someone on my team or leveled up in some way. So I make those changes.
9. What would you say is your biggest achievement thus far?
Gosh, I can’t pick one. Plus I don’t love to think of my life in terms of achievements, but rather as an unfolding creative river…
But some of the things I have worked hardest for, given my attention to, that I feel very proud of and happy about:
-creating a thriving business that gives me the lifestyle I want, is creatively satisfying, and helps change people’s lives
-having a 13-year wonderful partnership with my husband
-working through many of my own personal challenges – from giving up sugar (which I’m super addicted to) about 7 years ago and keeping that up, to finding my own right path to managing my health and physical wellbeing
10. If you could give one piece of advice to women looking to start a new path or career, what would it be?
Listen to the whispers. Do not be the skeptic in relationship to your dreams, standing across from them, with your arms folded, asking questions like, “But who do you think you are?” or “How are you qualified for that?” or “What if you fail?” Instead, be your own ally. It’s okay to have no idea how you’ll make the career transition happen yet. It’s okay to have no idea if it’s realistic. You can still, in this moment, shift from being a skeptic to an ally in relationship to yourself. You can say, “Honey, I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I hear you, and I’m going to do what I can to move us in that direction. I promise. I’ve got your back.”