A Vietnamese man decided to quit a stable job at a multinational corporation, going against everyone’s expectations to follow his dream career of personal coaching.
Tong Quoc Ky is now a professional teacher fequently participating international soft skill programs and a member coach of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
He had always been an outstanding student with a lot of pressure on his shoulders to perform well academically and professionally rather than pursue his dreams.
However, after he got accepted to one of top higher education institutions in Vietnam, he soon quit due to the lack of interest in the major he was studying.
Following the dropout, Ky moved to another part of the country to begin a new chapter of his life
Leaving the top university
It came by no surprise when Ky, a good son at home and a bright student at school, was admitted to the Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology in Hanoi as one of the valedictorians of that exam year.
“When I was younger, I wanted to study something ‘cool’ like computer science,” the young coach said, explaining why he enrolled to the institute.
But only after one year studying there, the then 19-year-old Ky realized it was not something he wanted to do in the next ten to 15 years.
He dropped out of the telecom institute and spent the next year studying to take the national college entrance exam again, this time to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Foreign Trade University.
This means he would leave his hometown in the northern province of Nam Dinh for the southern city to start a new life.
That is not an easy decision to make for the oldest son of the family, Ky said.
“My relatives were shocked with my decision and did not want me to live far away from our home town Nam Dinh Province,” Ky said.
“That was probably the darkest chapter of my life. Not only did I have to face many persuasions, threats, and tears from family, but also thousands of questions from my own self,” he added.
The overwhelming feeling and lack of support put Ky in depression as he resorted to many negative actions such as hurting himself, not eating, or sleeping less than two hours a day, while spending most of his time playing video games.
“One day I looked into the mirror and saw a reflection of a stranger looking back at me with a beard, tangled hair, and malnourished body,” Ky said.
“I thought that was enough and I was determined to change even if I had to start all over,” the soft skills coach talked about the moment he truly decided to turn his life around.
‘Family care because they love you’
Even though Ky made up his mind about moving to southern Vietnam and turning over a new leaf at a new university, he still had his family to persuade.
“I believe that even if our families scold us or get mad, it is only because they love and care about us, so I tried to find a way to talk to my parents and grandparents,” Ky recalled.
Once all questions have been answered and explained, the young Ky received approval from his family members.
At the time, Ky had to face a major national exam to the Foreign Trade University.
Ky worked as tutor for high school students who would take the national exam during the day and when night fell, he had to study for the same exam himself.
“When I look back I am appreciative of the dark chapter of my life, because it remains a reminder for me that I always need to try hard and understand my own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses,” Ky commented, while also mentioning that it is this attitude that brought him to his current profession of teaching soft skills.
Without that time he would never have achieved success and happiness like he enjoys today, he added.
The depression and negative feelings later became a persuasive enough story for him to share with parents and students as he began his teaching career as a coach.
Passion for teaching
Even though the coach is now indulged in his teaching career, his first choice of college when he moved to southern Vietnam was a university specializes in trade and business.
“At first I did not know what I liked so I applied to Foreign Trade University because I wanted to be in an active environment to experience many things,” Ky explained.
Being an outstanding student, after graduation Ky has worked at various multinational corporations including Unilever, VNG, and Grab, before finding his true passion - being in the education sector.
With this choice, Ky hopes to help youngsters avoid mistakes he made that can result in waste of time, money and might even have a negative impact on one’s emotions.
At the end of the day, passion and love for work is more important than being an outstanding student, or be good at one’s job, he said.
Moreover, with technology being as prevalent as today, the youngsters spend less time with their families and friends which causes certain challenges when developing soft skills.
Another motivation for him to do his best in education would be society’s habit of comparing one another.
“During my junior high school I had to study hard because I was the president of my class,” he shared the pressures he experienced as a child.
“In high school I studied in ‘class for the gifted,’ where the comparison was even more evident. Even parents and teachers would put us on ‘scales’ to compare our achievements.
“Other times I would compare myself with others.”
Being a victim of toxic comparison, Ky understands his younger sister’s situation where she is always compared with her older brother, who was known to many relatives for being outstanding in his studies.
Only being in 7th grade, Ky’s sister used to hate the family and her own brother for always comparing her with him.
“Luckily, things have improved. I also have more time to talk to her and she tries harder in her studies,” Ky said.
“Witnessing these things gives me more motivation to follow the path I have chosen for myself,” he added.
Not only has he been a member of International Coach Federation since 2016, he has also Physics and Chemistry books for Lovebook.vn publishing house, received a full scholarship from IPL Enlightened Leadership Program, and founded 20 Fulfilment project where students are accompanied on their way to understand themselves.
International Coach Federation (ICF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to professional coaching.
As of April 2017, ICF has approximately 30,000 members in 140 countries.