2018 Reading List: Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead

I feel strongly that women are meant to have a bigger role in our communities, education systems, government, and businesses. I love reading books about strong women. I love hearing about powerful women who create change. I know that the world will be better off when women no longer see and hear the internal and external arguments about whether and how they can succeed.

I believe all of this 100% and yet, I am still yearning to figure out how to create an impact of my own. I still have a strong desire to learn what it is that holds women back, and more importantly, how to communicate that to others. 

I loved reading Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, by Tara Mohr, because she speaks to exactly the issues that almost all women face, in some capacity. And she doesn’t blame any one person or group of people. She doesn’t blame any one thing. She insists that all people are different and have different experiences, and therefore will face different challenges that are holding them back from Playing Big.

As Mohr states in her book, and I’ve read elsewhere, women make up more than 50% of students completing higher education. Even through middle management, women are still equally represented in the workplace. But in getting to that next level, women drop out significantly. There is no one reason for this. Some like to blame men specifically, or the organizations that don’t value women, or the women themselves who want to have families. Some say that they can’t help it if women don’t want to advance to that C-level.

The truth that Mohr claims is that it is often a combination of these things. And yet, there is a lot that women can do to help themselves with what is in their control.

This book reviews the reasons why women hold themselves back and what they can do about it.

Some women are self-critical. They don’t believe they are good enough. Some women give in to fear. They don’t see any way they could succeed. Some women don’t set the right goals. Some women don’t take up enough metaphorical space. They diminish themselves through their words or actions without even realizing it. Some women are perfectionists. Some women follow the rules. Those two things sound like good things, but it causes them to wait or to play it safe, when they could be introducing their big ideas and interrupting the status quo.

Mohr explains that some of these are related and many of these overlap. Women are held back by a combination of all of the above.

At the end of each chapter, there is a section of journaling questions to get you thinking about your own life, dreams, and fears. The journaling piece is important for readers who want to take this seriously. It’s one thing to read about the ways you’re not living up to your full potential and some tips to do it better, but it’s far more impactful to really dig into your own thoughts and actions through writing, to unpack your fears and confront the truth of your own life.

I participated in most of the journaling sections, where I found them applicable. I may be sharing those thoughts here later, or elsewhere, if I figure out how to take my own leap into my new blog idea that I’ve been sitting on for months.

I found this book to be helpful, insightful, and practical. There were a few parts that were a little cheesy – like imagining you’re flying on a beam of light 20 years into the future to see what your future self would do. But almost all of the advice was pertinent to real life situations, whether your dreams are to make change in your workplace or starting painting again or participate in your local government.

I would recommend this book to young women who are just starting to figure out what their dreams are, so they can put a plan in place to take action. So they can be part of widespread change in the way that women see themselves and their potential.

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