Book Review – Diva Wisdom

janebookI first met Jane in 2009. As we sat in the reception area of a hotel just off the M6 Jane told me her story, which you can read here in the3rdimagazine.

Since then Jane has shared her experience with women across the northwest and now shares it with an even larger audience in her new book Diva Wisdom.

The book falls into 5 parts. The first details Jane’s background. In the second and third Jane shares, in her words, “what she knows for sure”. Part four is Jane’s take on sisterhood and sexism while in the final part Jane discusses the challenges that face the next generation of women.

The book, therefore, covers a lot of ground in it’s 250ish pages and Jane’s fast talking style makes sure that every page is crammed full of her Diva Wisdom and creates a challenge for a review of just 500 words.

That said, the first theme that emerges is the importance of emotional resilience, in business and in life. In typically combative style she criticises our risk averse society, pointing out that if you don’t take risks how can you know your own limits and while not all ventures will be successful some of life’s biggest lessons come from adversity and failure.

The second theme is the need to embrace a “fix yourself first” approach and Jane addresses the difficulty when you try to force change on others. Here Jane calls on her experiences as a coach and goes on to discuss how “self-belief and self-love are the keys to a meaningful life”, self love being particularly difficult to achieve for what Jane characterises as the “Barbie Doll beauty generation.” Jane shares many personal insights on how all of life’s adventures can be reframed in ways that encourage personal growth and development.

Jane reserves part 3 of the book to detail how the world will change when we create more women entrepreneurs. Jane has coached lots of women and believes that there are several common themes that prevent women from reaching their full potential; from seeking perfection through being fearful and risk-averse to shunning the limelight. Having discussed the obstacles Jane details her solutions, centred around choosing your niche and building your brand. But most of all you need passion and it is clear that this book is written with passion.

I’m going to skip over Jane’s debunking of the Superwoman mentality, as this is the subject of Jane’s first book, “Superwoman, her sell by date is up” which has been already been reviewed here in the3rdimagazine, and move on to the final section in which Jane asserts that our young girls are in crisis and need role models from beyond celebrities.

Not only has Jane devoted the final part of this book to the issue she has dedicated the past 5 years to Girls Out Loud, a project to support teenaged girls, particularly those at greatest risk of dropping out of education and training. And here we come full circle as Jane asserts that, “academic prowess is no substitute for emotional resilience”. The statistics Jane quotes are genuinely troubling and Jane is particularly vocal in the chapter decrying the early sexualisation of girls, not only how they are expected to look but how they are expected to behave which can be summarised as “look good to attract a man and don’t be too demanding if you want to keep him”.

Jane pulls no punches blaming the media and the internet for combining to keep women in their place and for stealing the innocence of children. But Jane saves the best until last and the anecdotes from universities are truly sickening, with sexual harrassment and sexist behaviour apparently rampant.

In summary, this is a very personal book with most of the lessons learned taken directly from Jane’s own life. Most people have experiences very similar to Jane’s and by sharing her solutions to the problems Jane helps others to find their own answers. Some experiences are more personal and by sharing these experiences Jane sheds light on how complex problems, often problems that are highly emotionally charged, can be tackled. The book is fast paced and covers a lot of ground and everyone will be able to take something from the journey. Thanks Jane.

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