Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post: Tara Sophia Mohr of the Wise Living Blog

In the past year, I have grown increasingly grateful for the abundant information and wisdom available through the diverse blogs that I read regularly. Through my RSS feed, I get windows into all kinds of fascinating thought, challenging inspiration, and invaluable education. So I am grateful and excited to share one of those voices with you. Tara Sophia Mohr is the owner of the Wise Living Blog and a blogger at the Huffington Post. Here is her description of the intention of Wise Living: "Wise Living is a way of life. It’s about living more intentionally in order to create a vital, peaceful, joyful life. It’s about consciously cultivating love and compassion – because we can change our lives for the better through that cultivation. Wise Living is also about becoming skillfull in managing fears, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful behaviors, so that they don’t get in your way.

For today's post, Tara was generous enough to answer some questions for my readers. I hope that you find her voice enlightening and inspiring.

Tara Sophia Mohr

1. As I've reviewed your bio and your writing, I'm struck by the fact that your background and education seems to draw on two very separate traditions (literature & business). You've mentioned that you feel that these two traditions can enrich and strengthen one another. Can you talk more about that?

I've lived my life with one foot in each of two very different worlds. On the one hand, I've operated in very competitive academic environments - Yale and Stanford - where left-brain, logical thinking is seen as the primary way of making sense of the world. On the other hand, I've had a life long interest in personal growth and spirituality - where the primary modes of being are more heart-based, and intuition is seen as a valid way of knowing. We could say that one world is about knowledge and the other about wisdom.

Though the cultures of these two worlds are incredibly different, my personal experience is that they can deeply enrich each other. I've found in my own life for example, that saying a short centering prayer in the morning, or doing mindfulness practice actually translates into more achievement and incredible performance in those "secular" environments. And on the other side of things, I think we actually need more intellectual rigor and logical thinking in the self-help world - particularly in my role now, which is writing and teaching about tools for "wise living." Too many smart, educated people have turned away from self-help because of the lack of logical thinking in that realm - and I think we need to change that.

2. As I've read your posts on your blog and the Huffington Post, I've been struck by the breadth of topics you cover: ranging from gender bias on Top Chef to a sense of meaning in life. Where do you draw inspiration for your writing?

It's really about the things I'm passionate about. One of my readers recently told me she sees two big strains in my writing: one is a very universal kind of writing about the wisdom of compassion, about gratitude, spirituality, finding peace. The other is a more "in the world" kind of writing that is directed at women, and focuses on helping women show up more fully, more authentically, and more boldly in the world. I'm passionate about women's voices getting heard in the world - and much of my work focuses on that. Big picture, I think we need more women's voices and perspectives being shared visibly, on the stages that matter, to bring our world to sanity and balance.

3. It seems as though you see some consistent themes with your clients. What pieces of advice to you find yourself repeating most frequently?

Well, first of all, I try not to give advice. My role is facilitating a process that helps clients get to their own answers - their own inner wisdom. But of course, there are principles that inform how I facilitate that process. A few of those:

* Date your dream. Whatever your dreams or longings are - for your life or for your career - "date them." Treat them just like you'd treat someone you wanted to develop a close and meaningful relationship with. On a first date, would you question the other person about how this was all going to work out, whether it was realistic for you two to have a long-term relationship or get married? No! You'd just talk with them, listen to them, get to know them, smile at them. That's what we need to do with our dreams - listen, spend time with, welcome, allow them to unfold. Yet most of us question them, doubt them, and demand to know the answers of how they'll work out, right away.

* Trust that your dreams and your longings are not arbitrary, but are telling you something about the life you are meant to live, and the world you are meant to do.

* As women, we tend to underestimate ourselves. Question the voice that says, "I'm not ready yet." Put your ideas out there courageously - before they are perfectly researched or entirely thought out. Feel the fear and do it anyway. And get super sophisticated about dealing with your inner critic - much of my work with clients and in my workshops is about helping them with that.

* Instead of seeking out the opportunities that will help you grow, look for the ones that will help you blossom. Don't romanticize hardship. Go where you are supported and can thrive.

* Many more, but those are a few!

4. If my readers were to head over to your blog, what post would you love for them to read first?

Hmmm... "10 Rules for Brilliant Women" which is my most popular article. It was originally published at Huffington Post and later at More Magazine.com, and has struck a chord with thousands of women around the world. I also created a free workbook with exercises and journaling prompts for each of the 10 rules - and your readers can get that HERE.

I'd also recommend downloading my free book of poetry, which is HERE.

I'd also love to share with your readers about Playing Big, which is my women's leadership and professional development program - for women who want to Play Bigger in their work and in their lives. It's beginning in April. I think so many women know we are playing small, shrinking our voices, not pursuing our calling, not serving the world in the way or at the scale that we'd like to. This program is really the complete package - from inner work to practical skills training - to help women Play Big. More info about that program is HERE.