Jessica Fearnley is a business coach who helps women build seven figure consulting firms. She specialises in the transition from six to seven figures in turnover, and is an advocate for earning more by working less. Jessica has bachelors and masters degrees from Nottingham University, and a career background in project management, business planning and business development in both the public and private sector. She was recently named as one of the LinkedIn Top Voices for Entrepreneurship and Small Business, and is passionate about closing the gender pay gap for women in consulting.
“In some ways and I know in my mind that I am very opinionated and people who knew me would say that I am very good at making my feelings known. However, I’ve always known that social situations aren’t where I feel most relaxed. As I grew older and with experience, it became a process in my life, to be comfortable in situations that other people may enjoy or not.
In relation with my current work, I’ve handled hard discussions. We can’t coach someone if we’re afraid of having those difficult situations. They won’t know what the real issue is if won’t tell them and that part has been a real area of development for me. I guess we can all say that what impacts our business also impacts our lives in a positive way. We can’t really separate business and personal development.
When I was 15, I remember the teacher saying, we’re all going to go into little groups and then one person is going to stand up and summarize the thing that you’ve all talked about for the class. And I remember even in a small class of 12 people just thinking, “I do not want to do that. I don’t want to have to stand up and speak in front of everyone”. Whereas now I think in that situation I would be like, “Yeah, brilliant. Give me the mic. I’ll do the talking”. Something that I still struggle with now is making the first move. I used to find myself just sort of surrounded by people but just terrified to sort of say the first thing like the first hello. And looking back, it felt like I was always really friendly but it was hidden behind the shy exterior. If you can get to a point where the real you come out despite the shyness, then I think you just feel a lot less tension for yourself.
it’s really important that we don’t sort of take other people comments as a lifetime feedback. Some may give a throwaway remark but check the scenario when it was said and who said it. We don’t have to bring this “backpack” with everyone’s comments. We have to go through that process of life and getting a handle on what we think about stuff and we have to be ready to start making those choices. For me it felt like a bit of an awakening. I suddenly realized “I’ve been letting other people put stuff in this backpack for me and actually there’s already stuff in there and I can be in control of that.”
Shyness and Introversion
Shyness isn’t the same as being quite sort of low social energy person, like an introvert. The thing with shyness is that it’s like I’m this sort of person, but I don’t think I can ever let anyone see that. As for being an introvert, it doesn’t bother you whether you see people or not. I don’t think that that’s something which is a problem and I don’t think that’s the same as shyness. Being shy is a problem thing if it’s stopping you from having the interactions with other people that you would really like to have.
Shyness as a superpower
Shyness can really soften your personality and make you a lot more approachable. Sometimes extrovert people who are very ready to come forward and tell people how amazing they are can impact as arrogance, which can push people away. It can also send other people into a tailspin and you know, why aren’t I like this big amazing person?
If you’re a bit shy, you will be a bit more thoughtful on saying things because it’s a big deal for you to do it. You’ll usually be a lot more measured in the way that you do. If you can be consistent and show up as your shy self and, and sort of be a little bit imperfect and be a little bit different, maybe it’s what people expect you to be and that sort of role. It can go a long way towards winning the audience of people who are right for the work that you want to do anyway.
For techniques to be more visible in work, there’s a process that we have to go through and that process starts with sitting on the side-lines feeling insanely cross that other people are doing what you find incredibly hard. I know I can do this and everyone else is doing it. And it just feels so unfair that I’m not the one doing it and they’re getting the opportunities that I want to have. And then you get to a point of no return. You start showing up in your business in a way that terrifies you, but you do it anyway. There are times we put ourselves in a box and you say, I’m the kind of person who wouldn’t do that. And yet when we go outside the box, we discover things about ourselves that we never even realized at all.
I think sometimes, it’s much better just to do it and then see what happens because it saves you a lot of time. Sometimes we can have these ideas and we never act on them cause we’re just a little bit too scared and we want to be a little bit more ready. But you’re never really ready. You really just have to do it.
It’s finding the stuff that really works for you and not feeling like you’ve got to do everything. It’s finding things that work for you and your audience. When you’re in the zone, people really respond to the energy that you bring, they can see you’re not held back by that sense of low energy or shyness. It makes it so much easier than having to dig deep for every little thing.”