Cool, calm and collected | Being Authentic as an Introvert and Thriving
Hi and welcome to a new episode of the Mom Bosses Abroad podcast. We are here today with Jenny Toh. And we are going to be talking to her about the topic of introversion and how to be more visible while still remaining authentic. So Jenny, welcome to our podcast! It’s such a pleasure to have to have you with us today.
Hi, thanks for having me. I'm also really excited to be on this podcast.
Yes, so Jenny is an International Coaching Federation Associate Certified Coach who runs her own coaching practice which is called River Life Coaching. She's also a qualified lawyer in the UK, Singapore and Malaysia. She's really, really passionate about coaching introverted individuals to be more visible on their own terms and to empower them to live fully and joyfully. And just before we hit the record, but we were talking a little bit about it, and it's we really can't wait to dive in Jenny, on how you turn this into a complete strength and asset for yourself. But, but first of all, tell us tell us a little bit about your personal journey and how you got to where you are today.
Okay, thanks. Yeah, I will try and condense the story. It's a bit long. So, as you introduced me, my first career is a lawyer. I've worked as a lawyer for close to what this will be my 25th year so you can kind of guess how old I am at this moment. And why did I go into coaching? It was because I was first exposed to it in an organization that I worked for as a mid-level manager and they gave us a two day coaching program just to help us to be better managers. That was when I was first bitten by the bug. I wanted to explore it because it resonated with me. My personality is I tend to be more of a listener. It kind of ties in with my introverted traits as well. I listen. I really can hear what you're saying or what you're not saying. And I empathize. I empathize a lot. So, I remember when I was younger, I used to take on my friends problems as though they were mine. So that was not very healthy, but I was much younger than to not be able to draw boundaries. So anyway, I toyed with the idea of becoming a coach, I never really explored it. So that was 2015. And I only thought seriously about training as a coach at the end of 2018 because the desire to be one just came up very strongly that I couldn't push it away anymore. So I'm sure a lot of your listeners who are busy moms, they may feel that longing, that desire. They may discount it and say ‘I'm working. I'm a stay at home mom, I've got three young kids right now. There's no way I can’ and so at that point of time 2018, I have three kids_ at the moment they were younger, all school and I thought ‘Okay, full time job, three kids, how do I balance it all?’
But the desire to become a coach was so strong that I couldn't push it away. And how I explain it is because I'm a Christian. I believe that was what God is calling me into in this season of my life. So I just went ahead with it. So I trained for a year as a coach_ that was in 2019 and I made plans to launch the business in 2020 without knowing what was going to hit us in 2020 pandemic. When a pandemic hit us, I was asking God do I then still wait because he knew I waited from 2015 all the way to 2018-2019 to start. So this time I said no. It wasn't like an easy no to say. I just felt that okay, brought me this far. You know, I'm not going to hold off anymore. So I launched my business in April 2020. And happy to say that it's growing. I mean, it's not where I want it to be yet. It's still growing and I'm doing all this podcast appearances just to get my message out there, which is to empower women to follow their passions and their dreams. A lot of times we put everyone else ahead of us, and we kind of forget, you know who we are while we're doing all that.
Yeah, Jenny, this is this is so so fascinating. And there's so many things to rescue already just on this brief intro that you've given us. But we want to really get to the to the root of introversion and to really understand what it means because for a lot of us, we might equate it a little bit with shyness, but we really want to understand what does it mean? What is really introversion and if you can share with us from your life experience and the fact that you that you identify as such, how does that translate for you? And what can people do if they feel that they're leaning towards that introversion aspect of their personality? And feel like ‘Oh my God, the world is full of people that have to do all this Lives, they have to show up, you know this way but I'm I really, I'm not really in that in that line of being- that's not really my personality.’ So can you share with us a little bit what that really is so that people understand better the term introversion
Sure that's a loaded question. Now we have a lot of angles. So you're right on addressing the first point you say that when people say I'm an introvert as always the shy thing. When I was growing up, I was very shy, and I didn't know I was an introvert so it was like being a shy introvert. So shyness you can outgrow, you can learn how to outgrow shyness. Introversion and extroversion is where you draw your energy from. So that's how you distinguish it. So for introversion, you draw your energy from within. You need that time to recharge, to refresh and just to be with yourself. We really love being alone. And I see that happening with my teenage son to the extent that he closes himself in the room and I am an introvert. At the same time. He's even more of an introvert so he draws his energy from within after school. He just needs to be by himself. Extroversion doesn't mean you need to be with 1000s of people at one time. You go to a party, you enjoy being with people, you still want to carry on that conversation with a few close friends. So for extroverts, if they attend a dinner party, I mean in the days where we could attend dinner parties, you will then go off for drinks with two or three friends and carry on a conversation in a night. So with me I will say, ‘Okay, I can hang out with you maybe for the extra half an hour.’ Bear in mind that I was already at the party for three hours. I get there another half an hour early after that. I've got to say my goodbyes and I felt bad. But now you know my friends and I we know what works for us and what doesn't, so I'm happy to just like stick up with them for half an hour. So go back, get my own time while they carry on, you know, enjoying each other's company. So that's the difference. And I notice with the pandemic, some of the clients I coach who are introverts or extroverts _I coach extroverts as well, they now are also getting to know their introverted side because for extroverts in the beginning, with the lockdown, everyone's lost their social gatherings and if you somehow lost it during this time, they also appreciate the value of coming within themselves.
And Jenny you I love the fact that you speak about the energy source like where do you get your energy from right? and I had never put it that way because
I know same- I was gonna say the same thing that was really, really interesting to hear.
Right, like you tend to equate it with shyness. But also there's a mindset aspect to introversion. Is that that correct?
Yeah. So we feel that especially in the corporate world, you feel that if you're an introvert, you're not able to compete as well with the extroverted colleagues who speak up in meetings and that's a challenge that I see people facing even more now with meetings or Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The extroverts will just unmute video on and go on, you know, just as soon as the meeting starts, they are talking. The introverts will have the video off, the audio off and listen quietly, while their minds are processing. And then when they feel that it's time to talk, the extroverts have gone on to another topic and they feel that ‘Oh, it's too late for me.’ So guys, like what I said earlier, before recording, we then think we have great ideas, somehow we need to get really comfortable with the idea before we put it out there because we are so passionate in what we do and what we believe. It's like a lot of personal stakes. Whereas I was talking to an extroverted friend yesterday she said ‘I don't think about what people think about me.’ I just say that that's like the opposite. end for me before I put something on. I think about that, I think and that's the hurdle. So like you said, you rightly said, it's a mindset. It's a mindset.
Well, there's a gap as you say, that gap of ‘I'm filtering the information that is coming at me. And then I'm also filtering what I'm going to give out based on this information that just came as an input.’ What is my output to that? But I found something quite interesting because you just said that you as a coach, you have extroverts as well, that you're coaching, and then because of the pandemic, they have had to sort of come a little bit more in close contact with their introverted side. So, it is true that you can have an extrovert as an introvert, can you also have an extroverted side deep, deep within that they can also tap into?
Yes, sure. So my kids when they know that I coach people online and I do podcast guest appearance, my kids now say ‘Mommy, you've turned extroverted.’ You can be an introvert who has to show some extroverted traits when the time requires it, so it's for me is putting my brand out there, is being visible doing this. Is definitely outside my comfort zone. I tie in with the purpose of me doing this. I really want to reach out to women, especially mothers. So for that professional meeting setup, what’s your purpose? I mean if you have such a great idea and you tell yourself that you know ‘I am not able to share it’ that's a disadvantage to your team members and your manager as well. So I coach my introverted quiet to say ‘perhaps you need to have a meeting before the big meeting, like talking to the few people who can engage better with one to one and so gain an alliance them in the bigger meeting, that person could help, you know, give the attention to you so he could introduce you or he could say ‘Jenny has a point on this.’ So introverts kind of need to be encouraged and invited to share and once the thing is said there's no stopping them, because that's really tying into their purpose. So I think managers nowadays are getting better and understanding the different team dynamics.
Yeah. And it's always really interesting because I always kind of knew, ‘Okay, I think I'm more an extroverted type.’ But now I hear you talk about it more and especially also with the energy source, right? It's true. I am definitely an extrovert because I draw on the energy of having like that say these conversations with other people. Or let's say, but even I on any of our calls, right? Like after that, that's when I feel powered up. I feel so fueled, because we've had that time together. But then, funnily enough, when I became a mom, I all of a sudden enjoy and need my own time of flowing within. And that for me was quite funny- before you would always see when I'm out and about and with people. I don't like to be by myself- I'd rather be outside meeting people or talking to people about anything. Yeah, that was totally me. But now since I'm a mom, I'm like, ‘yeah, no, I don't think I'm going to go today because I really I just want to be on my own.’ You know, like when my little one is kindergarten or something. I'm like, ‘I really now enjoy drawing this energy from myself.’ So that's really what I feel. And so that energy explanation really helped a lot to kind of like figure out okay,
Well think of it as a spectrum because we're all human right? And we can’t say this is the introvert box and this is the extrovert box there is a term called an ambivert, which means you can fluctuate between the two. I believe that you need to see an
Ambivert? Is that Is that true? Can you like,
I would think that you are still primarily either extrovert or an introvert. I think this ambivert term is just to give people that comfort. Again, we're all human, and we're all unique. And as I shared with you, my kids are all introverts. However, they are very different as well so you can really box us up on the other side. I think I have that base trait and depending on the social circumstances or what you are passionately Yes, the context that's how you will show yourself and
Jenny, how do you manage or within your coaching practice, what are some strategies that people that identify as introverts because you know, they do derive a lot more energy from being alone or from being in situations where there's less people, less stimulation less outward type of stimuli? How can they remain authentic, but also feeling that they're not ‘missing out’ to or that they are not being hindered by being introverts within a world that, as you say, rewards extroverted people, but that extroverted people definitely take more advantage of because they get more attention.
That's a good question. So usually, I bring them back to what their strengths are, what their values are, because a lot of times you have even for introverts, we think that ‘oh, yeah, the world is made for extroverts. It's not for introverts’ although now increasingly there's more awareness as well. So I think my clients to come back to within themselves, which is what they love, that inner reflective work as to what their strengths are, acknowledge their accomplishments. So a lot of times, quite a lot of introverts are also perfectionist and high achievers and are very hard on themselves. So it's very hard for them to say, I was successful in ABCD. And so I have to get them to shift their mind but think that if you are looking at your accomplishments, but they don't belong to you, they belong to your best friend. What will you say? And then they really praise all the things because it's so much easier to praise your friend. When you move that reflection to themselves, they struggle. They're like, ‘Oh, okay, that's not a lot.’ You know, some people actually find it very hard to say ‘I am successful,’ whereas everyone around them will see that they are successful. So I get them to acknowledge and really tie in to their strengths and just appreciate them for who they are. Because at times we also feel that we need the external validation but what's more powerful is your internal validation.
Yes. The most important praise that you can get is the one that you give yourself and I love that you are empowering your clients into believing this about themselves because as you say, if you put it on paper, and it wouldn't have their name on it, they would consider it successful and great achievements, but because it's them, they play it down so much that they don't give themselves the due recognition that they deserve.
Yes, yeah. And a lot of times if they feel that they've been overlooked for a promotion or a project, I asked them to reflect on what the learning is from that and not to be so hard on themselves. A lot of times they come up with the answers themselves. That's the power of coaching. I don't give them the answers. I shine a spotlight on what you probably would call your blind spots or you've buried it so deep within that you don't see it. So we would be talking about it and it’s the key thing that keeps coming up. Introverts are great at forming deep one-to-one relationships and creating alliances and support at the workplace. And loyalty by all means leverage and on that so they never saw that as a strength that I think I need to speak up in a big meeting. So that was my answer. I need to speak up I need to present to the management. However, they have very good relationships with people in the management board. Why not leverage on that and then they feel that ‘Oh, am I then being manipulated?’ So if I can get them to see they’re in their head Am I doing to try to get something from that person and get them to think I’m adding value to that meeting? So you know, why do you think you are taking something from that person? You are actually offering your knowledge, your technical things, you're adding value. So, for introverts is to provide the safe space for them to talk without judgment. And that's when all the wonderful ideas come up. And once they see it, they go straight into action. They say ‘Okay, Jerry, I will do ABCD’ and they will commit to it and like you said, Desiree they're very loyal even to their plans. So they will come back to me and give me updates. This is what I've done and they feel so driven because it's worked right so that just keeps them in the forward momentum. So after that, I'm just so pleased to see them, like a caterpillar coming up to be like a butterfly. it's amazing.
That's beautiful. And the key word for me here was the safe space. Creating and identifying what are their safe spaces, if it is more of a one to one conversation with a person from the management as opposed to talking to all of them at one time in a big meeting, right? That they need to once they've identified that to just go to that- like to that resource that they have that they have identified for themselves. That's really, really good. And I mean it's also speaks a lot for you as being a gifted and successful coach for bringing people to these realizations because it is you're not telling them what to do, right? You're there to uncover their own strengths, their own valleys bringing it to the surface because they tend to suppress that themselves don't they, they don't want to admit it. Like they don't want to admit to their strength, so you're helping them to
Yes. Yeah. And I challenged them as well. I say, ‘what's your comfort zone and what would it look like?’ Just to take one step out of the comfort zone, so that they experiment that their comfort zone expands as well. What was uncomfortable two weeks ago is now okay, I'm doing this three times a week now, you know, like, people, and then they push forward and they break out of their comfort zone to create a new comfort zone.
Jenny, shifting gears a bit and bringing it a bit more on the side of you have discovered or you know this about yourself already because usually introverted people are very in tune, you know with themselves right? So they really get to know themselves quite, quite well. And so if you have a mompreneur or a business person that is starting their business doing their own thing, they know that they are introverted. Do you have any tips on how they can tackle the whole social media aspect? And the reason why I ask this question is because from what you were saying, introverted people thrive a lot on this very deep personal one on one connections where there is a lot of how can I say? There are big profound themes that they like to talk about and really go deep into things to really, really feel very comfortable with that person to go to that level. And so when when we are looking into social media, which tends to be sometimes very on the surface, right, the connections are not that quite deep or you don't even know how to get started reaching out to people and building those deep connections that introvert people thrive so much on because it gives them that fuel that they need and that security. What would be some tips or advice that you can share with us today about that? Because social media, it is and your story proves it, it's not really how you tend to tick- it's a bit out of your comfort zone to come here to a podcast and to put yourself out there. So drawing on your experience what can you share with regards to this using the platforms to an advantage?
That's a good question. And I as I reflect on my own journey, what made me go out sometimes I’m very active on LinkedIn, or maybe go on LinkedIn. The main thing like you said is we want to be authentic. So introverts, if you ask them to be someone they're not, like you go do a YouTube channel if they're not ready to do a YouTube channel, that's very difficult. It's very tough. So for me how I started out was to write, I love to write so that's what I do on social media.
I was putting out my posts, I have a blog on my website, so I write and if I focus more on the benefit that my audience will get for my posts from my articles that energizes me, but if I flip the focus to myself and think that ‘oh, is this good enough, how would I show up this week?’ If I dwell there too much, I wouldn't do anything. So is to recognize that like you said, that self-awareness, recognizing that okay, why am I doing this? You know, who am I benefiting by doing this? So when I get very clear on purpose of whatever I'm doing, then I do it. Yeah. But if it comes back to me, reflecting that you got the big thinking, ‘Oh, is this good enough? Should I work on this a bit more?’ So I still have that struggle, although I'm definitely more aware. So going on podcast. I'm telling myself, this is a great podcast that moms listen to and that would be, you know, the platform that I want go to. So a tip first is identify what your is business structure, what are you selling? A service? Are you selling a product? And of course, you know, how much do you believe in that product, in that service? And who is that one person? It makes it easier because we're introverts, right? Who is that one person, your ideal client that you want to talk to that you want to speak to that you want to write to? When you have that person very clear in your mind. It's easy in the sense of creating content and how to get it out there. You've got to come to it on your own terms in your own time, but just remember, it's never going to be perfect and it doesn't need to be perfect. Just put one out there. So when I was putting out my first post, I was thinking, ‘Oh, am I gonna get any negative comments?’ What was amazing is I had so many positive comments. I had friends that are texting me and say ‘Wow, you did it. Congrats. So another advice is surround yourself with people that have your back. So you need that support, being an entrepreneur is lonely. So identify your brand, how much you believe in it, identify that one person that this product or service is for so it's still right and then have your posse, you know, support that has your back and once you have all this, I don't know what can still hold you back.
You are speaking right from our heart because that is also what we like to share. The message we share is to surround yourself with people that empower you, inspire you and take away these invisible hurdles. No matter where you are. I think that's also something that became quite evident. Now during the pandemic we cannot even though they may live next door, we cannot be with them. Right. So, the online world and just opening up to that and creating this tribe is just so so so important. And yeah, so beautifully said we're so aligned.
Yes, absolutely. And we love how you broke it down in like three main steps. And the final one is something that also with a Desiree, we have shared in the past, Done is better than perfect. Right. So that's a great reminder for us, always to know that. Yes, you can always improve it you want. If you go back and you could do it again. Maybe you could have done it a little bit better, perhaps but it doesn't matter. It's showing up- is the fact that you're showing up and that you're stepping out of your comfort zone. And if you have that tribe that has your back, you will get that reassurance and that support that you know, it was great and also Jenny I don't know if you agree with this but this is something that with to this day we also have been discussing a bit is the fact that people don't want perfect they want authentic and they want to see you. The only one that can do you and yes, you come with your flaws and you come with your strengths of course, but people resonate with that. They want to relate to someone and they don't relate to somebody that comes across as being perfect or that has it all figured out. They want to relate to someone that is going through the same things or probably has gone through that journey. And so, we love the mission that you're on. We know that you have a program called Introverted Visibility. Would you like to share a little bit about what that is about?
So it is what we've touched on earlier- so it starts with you coming up with an issue that you face because you think you're not visible enough so it could always be from the workplace but also be your life as a whole- how you feel that- you know maybe your extroverted brother is getting more attention. You know, it's it could be that as well. But usually it's something related to work, whether it's a first-time manager, or you know, just someone trying to climb the corporate ladder. So this program I've titled a little bit earlier is first to get you to be clear on your strengths. What really drives you? What's your purpose, everyone has a higher purpose, calling in life doesn't matter whether you are you have a faith or you don't believe, there's always something there's a higher purpose in your life. So I take them to rediscover that as well. And then once they're clear on that we work on it. So it's very nice. It's a seven coaching sessions program. Each one lasts for an hour and I take you through it for six months because you know, you don't want to meet me every week and come from work to do because this kind of things you need to grow into it. You can't just say expect a solution and you're the one growing into it. So I take them through it and by the end of the six months program, you would have created a new comfort zone for yourself and then you probably want to grow even more outside that new comfort zone. Anyone who says that they've listened to this episode, just drop me a note through my website or drop me a connection on LinkedIn and you get a first time coaching session, so no charge, and you're not forced to sign on. I'll just speak to you for 45 minutes. Hopefully, you know by speaking to me, you feel comfortable.
Thanks fantastic Jenny and your website is www.riverlifecoaching.com/ and you have your Instagram accounts and your linked in links which we will be sharing in the shownotes.
So we love this. We want to thank you so much for being here with us today and sharing your story because it's a powerful inspiration for those that feel that being introverted might be playing against them, but not at all and you are a, real life example of what can be done. And also, I mean, amazing that you took also that step further and step out of your comfort zone into saying you know, I'm going to do this, even if it's 2020 and, you know, it was it was in the middle of like, a pandemic, globally. But you took that step and I think that you also had done the work and so you you do what you preach, right? You had done the work of saying like this is you know, this is what I'm being called to do. And I stand by it, I believing it and I am just going to go for it. So that's amazing. That's always so inspiring and impacts I'm real here
Absolutely. Yeah, it was such an honor to have you here. Thank you so much for all the things you do. And yeah, we can't wait to stay connected, and see where else the journey takes you as well.
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Jenny is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC) who runs her own coaching practice, River Life Coaching Pte. Ltd. Jenny is also a qualified lawyer in the U.K., Singapore and Malaysia. She is passionate about coaching introverted individuals to be more visible on their own terms and to empower them to live fully and joyfully.
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