(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
Jane Ioli is a business coach and author of Less Ego, More Soul: A Modern Reinvention Guide for Women, a book based on her personal journey and the work she’s done with thousands of business clients she’s coached over the course of her career.
Ioli doesn’t break new ground in her book; you can find many of her concepts in the writing of other self-help authors. But she does write from a very personal standpoint, and as a reader, you get the feeling that she’s spent this time during the global pandemic thinking deeply about what really matters. She starts the book describing masks – the personas women wear as protection, a way to fit in and to please people who matter, and a way to prove our worth to the outside world.
Ioli points out that constructing and maintaining the ego identity – the masks we’re wearing – is exhausting and ultimately, soul-deadening. Even if we’ve achieved material success, social standing, and all the other markers that indicate accomplishment, we’re often left with the nagging feeling that we’re missing something – that there must be some deeper meaning to our lives
Again, not new ground. But Ioli’s writing is coming out at the right time, when most of us have had plenty of time to search our souls. She says that important or traumatic events in our lives – she calls them thunderbolts – help us make changes that we might never make if everything continues to hum along pleasantly. For her, it was her father’s cancer and death, occurring just as he had retired to explore what he really wanted to do with his life. His death pushed her to do a deep dive into what her soul was trying to tell her.
She says that the 2020 pandemic forced many of us to give up the distractions, pleasures, and busy-ness that kept us from taking time for true reflection. We were suddenly forced into figuring out what mattered most to us and question whether the choices we’d made so far were really what we needed to live a meaningful life.
The last third of the book is a series of exercises designed to be completed over 21 days. They’re intended to help you walk through what has made you the person you are today, and get quiet enough to listen to your inner voice (which she calls your Wise Woman.) Your Wise Woman will “help you … to be more truly connected to a deeper, wiser place inside you that isn’t reliant on outside validation or approval.”
She says that her years of coaching taught her that we’re more alike than we are different. “The things that people talked about as being most important to them were eerily the same for just about everyone. The yearning to contribute something more and make a bigger difference in the world was the same, despite their individual differences of socialization, culture, race, socioeconomic status, or gender.”
She walks you through an exercise to create your own personal manifesto, which she suggests you use as an accountability check for yourself. “Are you integrating your inner wisdom and the soul-searching questioning you have done into your everyday choices? Do your words, actions, and how you interact with others match what you say is important? It is a decision-making guide above everything else. It reminds you of your intentions and what course of action to take when you are at a choice point.”
Her instruction is straightforward and practical; she asks a series of questions to help guide you through the process of discovering: who I am, what I believe, what I’m committed to. She gives examples of her own introspection and samples from her manifesto to help get you unstuck if this kind of work is new to you.
The tools Ioli uses are classic and time-proven: journaling, meditation, and quieting your ego so you can hear your inner (wiser) voice. Ioli writes, “I’m not referring to just becoming your best version [of yourself.] I am referring to becoming your whole version. Your ego identity is still the driver, but your inner wise self will be the navigator. You are headed in the same direction, together.”
If you’ve been hit hard emotionally during this pandemic and find yourself questioning everything, this might be the right book for you right now.