Smart Twenties Book Club | Playing Big by Tara Mohr

Find out why Playing Big by Tara Mohr is a must read for every twentysomething
There’s a reason I chose Playing Big by Tara Mohr as the very first Book of the Month for the Smart Twenties Book ClubAnd to be honest with you it’s pretty selfish.

I chose this book because it’s what I really needed to read.

If there’s anything my obsession with personal development books has taught me it’s that I really am the only thing standing in my way. I am the one holding myself back. I am my biggest critic.

The Smart Twenties Book Club isn’t about me saying whether I think a book is good or bad or anything in between because really, it doesn’t matter. But I can tell you that my experience of this book was AMAZING.

What’s Playing Big all about?

I better tell you a bit about the book before I launch into why I LOVED it…

As you’ve probably guessed, Playing Big is about, well, playing big. It’s about allowing yourself to have those BIG dreams (and not apologising for them). It’s about believing that you can achieve those BIG dreams because you are enough.

But this isn’t some airy fairy motivational book that gets you all excited about the amazing new life you can live and then leaves you high and dry. This book is so practical and so damn relatable. 

Tara talks about the inner critic, the voice of inner wisdom, fear, leaving good-student habits behind (so good!), hiding, leaping, communicating with power, callings and letting it be easy. I could relate to every single chapter in this book, but there are a few that really stuck out to me:

Communicating with power

Reading Tara’s chapter on communicating with power was a huge wake-up call for me. According to Tara, there are 11 common undermining speech habits that women often use – phrases we say so that we can “say what they really want to say whilst also adhering to feminine norms of being ‘nice’, ever flexible, ever conciliatory, ever calm.”

And I use all 11 of them. 

I say ‘just’, ‘actually’, ‘kind of’ and ‘almost’ so I don’t come across too strongly when I’m giving an opinion. I constantly apologise – ‘sorry, but…’ when I have something different to say, ‘I’ll just take a minute of your time’ when I have something important to say.

I use qualifying phrases like ‘I’m no expert, but…’, ‘I could be wrong, but…’ and ‘does that make sense?’. I use a singsongy tone, I rush when I speak and I often ask a question instead of making statements.

Speaking in this way makes me feel comfortable, but it also makes me appear unsure of my self, overly apologetic and without an opinion. I’ve already started implementing the advice Tara gives for changing those speech habits and can feel that I’m perceived as more confident just by omitting a couple of words here and there (I’ve been focusing on not saying ‘just’, it’s been so hard!).

If you ever find yourself using any of these phrases to tone down your opinion or your importance then please read this book! It’s little things like saying ‘I’d just like to check…’ or ‘I could be wrong, but…’ that can undermine years of study and hard work. This alone has been a game changer.

Leaving good-student habits behind

This is the other one that really jumped out at me in Playing Big.

Being a ‘good student’ is something I can definitely relate to. I may not do all my readings but I’m an expert when it comes to following instructions, I don’t challenge authority, I prepare and, most importantly (and unfortunately), I expect that good work will be rewarded according.

And that last one is a killer.

When you’re a good student you get noticed for doing good work. You get an A. It makes sense. You don’t have to promote yourself, you don’t have to negotiate with anyone and often you don’t even need to put your hand up. You can quietly grind away and still get the reward, all whilst remaining likeable and feminine.

It wasn’t until reading this book that I realised that what I’ve learned at school plays a huge role in why I, and so many others, struggle to promote ourselves. To put our hand up for that job. To make ourselves seen. To writing an amazing resume (instead of one that just sounds like some kind of lame apology).

School is, largely, a meritocracy. The real world isn’t. And, ironically, most of our good-student habits don’t serve us once we’ve finished school.

If you know you’re smart and can do the job but seriously struggle to promote yourself or put your hand up for a new opportunity then I highly recommend reading this book!

Would I recommend reading it?

100 times yes!

If you have a big dream that you’re not working towards it or if you don’t have a big dream at all then you need to read this book.

You are the only thing standing in the way of what you want and this book will really help you move through whatever reason you’ve found to play small or wait for ‘someday’.

Next Month’s Book

It was really hard choosing a book for March! There are so many books I want to read and so many good books I’ve just finished, but I couldn’t look past my favourite book of 2014.

The Book of the Month for March is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I know that, like me, a lot of you struggle to stick with a habit. This is the book that will change that.

Update: my post on The Slight Edge has been published – you can read the post here

Join the Smart Twenties Book Club

Did you know the Smart Twenties Book Club has moved to email?

About once a month, I send STBC members a super-long exclusive email packed full of my personal book recommendations and reviews!

Just click the button below to become a member instantly:

What do you think?

Did you read Playing Big with me? And will you be reading The Slight Edge? 

Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

Sam xx

Author: Sam Brown

  • Okay, you’ve sold it to me – I need to read this book! I was always the good student at school and uni, but I don’t feel like it has really done me any good in the real world. And I really struggle with self promotion too. Looking forward to reading it 🙂

    • Hi Katrina,

      Yay I’m so happy to hear that! I think you’d get so much from this book! I’ve never really heard anyone else talking about the habits that we develop in school that don’t serve us in the real world (which is so funny because the whole ‘point’ of school is preparing us for the real world). I’d love to hear what you think of it!

      Sam xx

  • You have sold it to me too 🙂 I just added both of the books to my (quite long) book wishlist. I’m also guilty of saying those words, specially “just” and “I could be wrong but…” And I had never really thought about it but yes, it makes me look unsure of what I’m saying. I’m definitely going to read it! 🙂 x

    • Hey Joana,

      That’s awesome, I think you’d love it! It’s so funny with those speech habits, even though for the last few weeks I’ve been really conscious of not saying ‘just’ unless I need to sometimes I just can’t help it! It really is a habit haha

      I’d love to know what else is on your wishlist!

      Sam xx

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