If you know the sisters you know we've usually got at least five books on the go at any given time (right now there are nine on my bedside table...) So for us to say a book is a game changer is a pretty bold statement. We've got our go-to classics like The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and now I've got three more titles I plan to keep near me to get me through those "I have no idea what I'm doing with my life" moments (we all have those, right?)
The Art of Asking
Due to my overflowing bookshelves, I made a deal with myself a few months ago to stick with titles from the library. But for some reason when I saw The Art of Asking, I knew I had to own it. I was right. Even though I’ve finished reading it, this book is still prominently displayed on my bedside table. When I wake up, it’s the first thing I see and I immediately smile as I’m reminded of Amanda’s invitation to “just take the donuts” (aka, accept the gifts that others want to give you).
Palmer’s writing is engaging, witty and deeply vulnerable. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so connected to an author. In fact, parts of the book were hard to read because it felt like I was the one receiving hate mail (the good news is Amanda has an amazing way of dealing with online trolls so the painful part didn’t last too long).
While this book will be especially helpful for artists and heart-centered entrepreneurs, I believe we could all learn a thing or two about how to get more comfortable receiving. I couldn’t help but think of my clients who tell me how hard it is for them to be on the receiving end of pleasure. I might have to send them all a copy to read!
The nerdy part of me loved all the research (the book includes almost twenty pages of references) and I was impressed with how the authors distilled the concepts and made them relatable. On the one hand their research left me feeling disillusioned – some of it pointed to the idea that confidence is, at least in part, hardwired from birth. But on the other hand, they argued that we have the power to overcome the “confidence gap” by adopting a growth mindset, and focusing less on people pleasing and perfectionism in favour of taking action. That’s the part of the book I’m choosing to focus on ;)
A growth mindset is rooted in the idea that we have a capacity to improve through effort and practice (as opposed to believing we have fixed abilities.) I have a tendency to assume I should be perfect at things right away (when I see it in writing I realize how ridiculous it sounds!) so I found this aspect of the book really helpful.
One of the passages that struck me was that “women will apply for a promotion when they have roughly 100 per cent of the skills required for that job. Men are happy to apply for that promotion when they have 60 per cent of the skills required. Because...guess what? They figure they're going to learn the rest when they get there. And they're probably right.” As an entrepreneur I don't have to apply for a promotion per se, but I am constantly in situations that require me to operate outside my comfort zone and take on new responsibilities. I've definitely fallen into the trap of feeling like I need to be 100% ready before I say "yes" to a new project, so it was helpful to learn that it's probably time to let go of that belief.
You know those moments when you read a line that hits a little too close to home and you can physically feel yourself react? Playing Big was full of those for me. Tara has a way of (lovingly) pointing out how you’re getting in the way of your own success.
How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something –a new project at work, a blog post, a speaking opportunity – because you thought you weren’t sufficiently qualified? The truth is most of us (especially women) never feel confident in our abilities no matter how much we know. We come up with excuses for why we need to wait until we’ve done more research, received more training, and had more experience. Tara’s colleague calls this phenomenon the, “I better get a PhD in that” mindset. Fortunately, rather than simply pointing out the problem Tara offers lots of practical steps for how we can shift this mindset. That’s one of the things I appreciate about Playing Big - that it elegantly combines theory and practice together. Not only are they woven together throughout the book but each chapter ends with journaling questions and clear action steps.
The biggest “aha” moment for me was Tara’s exploration of fear. In the Hebrew Bible there are two different words for fear – pachad and yirah. Pachad is a familiar fear – the one you feel before you make a presentation or go on a first date. On the other hand, yirah is a feeling that “overcomes us when we inhabit a larger space than we are used to. It is the feeling we experience when we suddenly come into possession of considerably more energy than we had before.” In other words, this kind of fear is one we need to welcome into our lives in order to “play big.”
A Note on Buying Books
You'll notice that each of the book images in this post provides a link to amazon.ca. We love that Amazon provides the ability to peruse the inside and back cover of books to help you figure out if it is a good fit for you. Our first preference (for ourselves and our community) is always to support your local bookshops (we're huge fans of Book City). However, we recognize that sometimes ordering from Amazon is simply more practical. In these cases, we appreciate the commissions earned on your purchases - we promise to use them towards buying additional resources to share with our clients and community and to pay it forward by sharing our reviews! :)
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.