This book opens with a quote: “If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not a success at all.”—Anna Quindlen

Jennifer Read Hawthorne says that while women may be from Venus, in their quest to have it all they spent way too much time on Mars.

“We have bought into the idea that success is about the bottom line, financial achievement, status and winning. We have looked at our relationships, our salaries, our achievements and our possessions to define ourselves and measure our success. We have mastered the doing. But in our efforts to keep up with our external definitions of success, we have too often ignored the most powerful aspects within ourselves—the principles of being that allow us to feel connected, fulfilled and at peace.”

Years ago, Jennifer was focused on mastering the material world, going over her goals once or twice a day, trying to figure out how she could make it all happen. The effect of this approach to living started to become clear when she found herself frustrated with the person she was becoming.

“Instinctively, I felt that if I were to find balance in life—that elusive thing most women in our society are struggling to find—it would have to be by culturing whatever was the opposite of masculine drive, energy and focus: the so-called feminine aspects of nature. I became more and more intrigued by the possibility that the deeper, feminine principles at play within every human being are as much a part of a successful, happy living as the so-called masculine ones.”

She began talking to women from all walks of life, some famous and some not, and collecting their stories. She discovered such themes as compassion, self-love, forgiveness, integrity and surrender. It wasn’t that the women telling their stories didn’t care about money or being admired; they did. But what mattered more was their inner experience, the fulfillment of living life in the moment and the feeling that most of what they did was meaningful.

The stories in this book teach us that the feminine principles are simply more about being than about doing, and that when we let ourselves be guided by them and combine them with our ability to act in the world, life changes for the better. We get to relax and be in the world in a new way. We feel at peace with whatever is going on around us and life seems to flow.

The Soul of Success is a perfect holiday gift—for a friend or to yourself—for that time of the year with short days and long evenings to ponder where it is we are going and what we are experiencing along the way. Some stories are delightful, some poignant and heart-wrenching, but all are inspiring with possibilities for a deeper experience of success that includes peace, freedom and wholeness.

Paperback, 300 pages, $12.95; Health Communications, Inc., 2004