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Empowerment expert Mohr goes "big" at NEW Forum

Wednesday, July 27, 2016  
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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Tara Mohr, founder, Playing Big, delivered the NEW Forum opening keynote address, July 27, 2016 at Terranea Resort outside Los Angeles.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA -- "We have an epidemic," Tara Mohr, founder of Playing Big, told more than 300 senior executives attending the 10th-anniversary NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 27, 2016 at Terranea Resort. "People know they're playing small, and they don't like it. But they don't know how to change it."

During her opening keynote presentation, "Speak Up, Play Big," women's leadership expert Mohr, author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead, pointed out that many capable women are hindered by overwhelming fears and perceived weaknesses.

"A brilliant woman would come to my office for coaching, and I would be inspired by her," Mohr said, noting that the same woman would be plagued by self-doubt.

"Here's the thing," Mohr added. "Brilliant women create brilliant inner critics."

While gender is a factor in self-doubt, it does not create self-doubt, Mohr emphasized.

"Research does not show any clear-cut data that women possess more self-doubt than men – but women experience a lot more self-doubt around things associated with masculinity," Mohr said, pointing out such traditionally "masculine" areas of expertise as quantitative work and leadership ability.

Men, however, are less comfortable in such traditionally "feminine" areas as emotional intelligence and collaboration.

"We were socialized to be likable," said Mohr, "and we get harsher criticism than our male colleagues. But 73 percent of the negative feedback women get includes a reference to our personality. It's only 2 percent for men."

Strength and safety

"There is nothing in your personal story that is the reason for your self-doubt," Mohr noted. "We all have a safety instinct, and the job of the safety instinct is to make sure you survive."

While it once primarily provided protection from roaming predators and other natural threats, the safety instinct now fires at the onset of emotional danger, Mohr explained. "Threatened with the risk of failure, or being laughed at, the safety instinct will do anything it can to get us back into the comfort zone."

Mohr pointed out a critical error made in training women to acquire leadership strength. "We made the mistake of assuming confidence was the solution. If we could have more confidence, we would have had more confidence from day one."

For Mohr, the solution is creating a new relationship with self-doubt. "The secret is listening to what self-doubt has to say, acknowledging it – and moving on."

"Ask yourself: 'What does my safety instinct not like about this situation?'" Mohr urged attendees. "You'll see your self-doubt unravel."

Mohr encourages women to honor their strengths, potential and truth – by playing big.

"'Playing big' is being more loyal to your dreams than to your fears," Mohr said.

"Most of you are at a place in your career where 'playing big' means doing what is calling to you," Mohr remarked, explaining that "a calling is an assignment that an individual receives to bring good to the world in a particular way."

It's natural to resist a calling. '"If you think you don't have training, that you're not qualified – you're right. A calling is there to grow you into that person one step at a time."

When it comes to playing big, happiness may be the biggest payoff.

"There really is nothing I've seen that brings more joy to our lives than respecting our callings," Mohr said.

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