Harris Fanaroff is a former Lehigh University baseball player who now helps businesses, leaders, and athletes have difficult conversations. ⁣Conversations which are necessary for growth and optimal performance. ⁣

As a leadership and business development coach, Harris has a gift for helping people uncover the deep issues that hold them back from excellence in business and in life. ⁣

Through his own journey we’re able to digest his decision making framework and see how he has had to make his way through seemingly tough decisions and moments within his sport career. ⁣

He had to adapt his story to become who he is today and to share that in a way that helps others go forward⁣

Full episode here – http://exploringpossibility.co.za/episode/32/

Noteworthy questions:⁣
– What are the limitations and dangers of getting attached to an identity?⁣
– How do we approach a flexible identity? – What can we do to build our confidence to perform more optimally?⁣
– How do we get into a flow state?⁣
– How do you deal with failure?⁣

Key takeaways⁣
– Structure your life to make it a perfect fit for the qualities that you bring to the world.⁣
– Approach identity from a wider perspective and spread out what the ‘label’ or title means to you so that you can experience less of a drop during a transition period.⁣
– You need to be prepared enough to not think while performing.⁣
– When you can control and choose your self talk then you immediately take control of your performance.⁣
– Control controllables and let uncontrollables go. You get to decide how you react and show up with the provided data. ⁣

Self-Regard: Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus

The first element I want to tackle with regard to improving our emotional intelligence during coronavirus is self-regard. Self-regard as defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the ability and tendency for you – in full light of both your positive and negative qualities – to both like and have confidence in yourself.” With too little self-regard, you see yourself as inadequate and inferior, unworthy of nurturance and the positive things that life has to offer. You are often self-doubting, self-critical, unhappy or insecure about yourself with a low self-regard. Self-regard is rooted in our self-esteem, self-confidence, pride, and self-respect.

There’s a lot about self-regard that can be related to our working lives and coronavirus. The biggest thing I think individuals will miss through consistent telework for an extended period of time is a lack of consistent feedback, and more importantly positive feedback. We will no longer be able to receive the instant feedback walking back to our desk after a well-executed presentation, or hear that “great job” after a meeting with our boss. Additionally, with a down economy comes less business for most organizations, so therefore less opportunities to do our work and do it well.

               So, here are the three tips you can implement immediately to work on your self-regard:

  1. Now more than ever, it’s important to decorate your physical space with symbols of past success and evidence of your skill and previous success. We are isolated, and that can cause feelings of loneliness and lower self-worth, so it’s important to give yourself reminders of the great work that you’ve done in the past.
  2. Surround yourself or put time in your day for positive people who you know support and affirm your strengths.
  3. Set a goal, perhaps one that is relatively easy to hit, and then acknowledge it to yourself when you accomplish it. This can be as basic as completing your 8 minute abs video every day.

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus

As I was thinking about what I could do to be helpful for my network during this time of uncertainty and craziness of coronavirus, I thought about emotional intelligence and how we can use this time to work on ourselves. Before I do anything else, I figured I’d define emotional intelligence for those that are not as familiar. Emotional Intelligence is the behavior we each engage around self-awareness, self-management (how I know and control myself) and the concern and sensitivity we bring to relationships and to others around us (how I foster and care for my connection with others). The behaviors I bring to the world—that is what my Emotional Intelligence reflects.

The 16 elements of the Emotional Intelligence model we use at OKA, the EQi 2.0, are:

  • Self-regard: respecting oneself; confidence
  • Self-actualization: pursuit of meaning; self-improvement
  • Emotional self-awareness: understanding own emotions
  • Emotional expression: constructive expression of emotions
  • Assertiveness: communicating feelings, beliefs; non-offensive
  • Independence: self-directed; free from emotional dependency
  • Interpersonal relationships: mutually satisfying relationships
  • Empathy: understanding, appreciating how others feel
  • Social Responsibility: social consciousness; helpful
  • Problem solving: find solutions when emotions are involved
  • Reality testing: objective; see things as they really are
  • Impulse control: resist or delay impulse to act
  • Flexibility: adapting emotions, thoughts and behaviors
  • Stress tolerance: copying with stressful situations
  • Optimism: positive attitude and outlook on life
  • Happiness: satisfied with life; content

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing specific action items you can do immediately to work on these emotional intelligence elements during this pandemic. While we are all stronger in some elements over others, there is always an opportunity for growth in all of these.

Stay healthy,


Life After Sports Podcast


Check out my episode on the amazing Life After Sports podcast!

“On today’s show, I welcome Harris Fanaroff. He is a former Lehigh University baseball player who now helps businesses, leaders, and athletes have difficult conversations. As a leadership and business development coach, Harris has a gift for helping people uncover the deep issues that hold them back from excellence in business and in life. But he’s had to fight for that skill. He’s had to wrestle his own demons, to confront the pain of his own transition from baseball. He’s had to learn how to re-tell his athlete story… and that’s at the heart of success in life after sports.

In today’s episode, you will:

Hear how Harris reframed– and overcame– a debilitating condition that virtually ended his baseball career overnight.

Learn the differences between mentorship, counseling, and coaching… and why athletes can benefit from some of each.

Discover how introverts and extroverts alike can leverage the power of conversation to tap into new opportunities in life after sports.”

5 Things I’ve Learned at OKA (My New Job)

2020 started with an exciting change for me professionally. I joined the OKA family as “Director of Client Relationships”, pursuing an industry, company, and mission that I am incredibly passionate about. This opportunity came as a result of a several year journey searching for the optimal career path doing work that I believe whole-heartedly in. Via hundreds of conversations with those in and out of my network, I am fortunate to have been led into the field of leadership coaching, training, and organizational development. This industry has changed my life and I am enthused with the opportunity to now share this change with clients, coworkers, family, and friends.

It’s funny how opportunities present themselves – my “lead” happened to be as a result from reaching out to a unknown LinkedIn contact who was doing work that interested me. The coffee that followed led to a mentorship, which then led to him suggesting I reach out to another individual, who leads the company I am now a part of.

I tell this story to share a motto I truly believe; you never know where a connection can take you. If you are open-minded, curious, and gratuitous, the possibilities of where a “random” coffee meet up or phone conversation can lead are endless. With all that being said, I wanted to share five things I’ve learned at OKA through my first month at the new job.

1.       The desire for companies, teams, and individuals to improve emotional intelligence is growing

“Emotional Intelligence” is quickly becoming a buzzword in today’s society, and for good reason. OKA’s clients understand the power of emotional intelligence and how it can enable the workforce. It may be true that technical skills land job positions but in order to grow and excel in a current position or desired position, emotional intelligence is now a key factor with performance and potential candidacy.

Recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses leads directly to an increase in self-awareness and in turn, a greater level of self-management. The journey of improving our emotional intelligence begins by understanding where we struggle and developing an action plan for improvement.

2.       Flexibility is vital

Transitioning from a 1300-person company to a 5-person company was full of expected and unexpected surprises and hurdles. Honestly, this aspect of the new role excited me as it was one of the parts of my previous role that I felt was hindered. That said, at such a small firm, adaptation and open-mindedness was obligatory for success professionally and personally with coworkers and team unity. I have learned the importance (and fun) of wearing many hats and embracing failure.

3.       Find a workplace that embraces “you””

Achieving happiness in an organization is built from a combination of many aspects. One that I believe to be mandatory is the ability to be your true and honest self. Every individual brings a unique skill set to the team and recognizing that is an important key for success. Fostering each other’s unique selves and skillsets provides an enjoyable and productive work environment.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to bring my full self to work each day and be with fellow employees that trust me to make responsible decisions. Even though I have less years of experience than many of my co-workers at OKA, my voice is valued and encouraged.

4.       Utilize Tools/Assessments for Better Communication

OKA is an organization that is heavily focused on utilizing tools for increased self-awareness and self-management. Having team members with a high level of emotional intelligence creates a company culture that fosters individuals simply being “wired” differently. We all gather data and make decisions in unique ways.

Many client revelations occur when individuals recognize that they may approach a problem through a specific lens but that that is not the only lens that is available. At OKA, we are transparent with each other’s assessment results and use them in every interaction. We know who is wired to respond on an objective way (problem-focused) or a subjective (people-focused) way. This allows for the team be more empathetic and understanding of where others are coming from.

5.       Being new is not always a bad thing

It’s true, being new is daunting and scary. This was my first professional transition since I had graduated college and as stated, was an immensely different workplace than I had grown used to. In the beginning, I found myself prefacing my ideas with “I realize I am only “x” weeks in, but I was thinking…”. My colleagues honest feedback was – stop. By doubting myself due to being the newest member, I was unfairly discounting my recommendations. I am constantly learning through my own actions (and via coaching clients) that we are often our own biggest critics.

The truth is, my coworkers recognize that I bring new experiences and skills to the table and are excited for me to share my thoughts and reactions. Having a fresh and unbiased view on topics and processes can be incredibly helpful with workflow efficiency and professional development.

Five Step Process for Finding a Career you Love

A lot of the coaching work I’ve been doing with emerging leaders inside organizations and people in their 20’s and 30’s has been about finding a career they love. They are having success in their current role but feel that there is something more out there for them. Often times I hear they don’t know where to start and feel “stuck.” Very often people immediately jump to job searching online without doing the internal work necessary to figure out something they actually want to do and end up frustrated when that process doesn’t work. With that being said, I wanted to share a five-step process based on research for finding a career you love.

  1. Reflect on your values, strengths, and ambitions

The first step in figuring out where you want to go with your career is to identify what’s important to you, what you’re good at, and what you want out of a career. Very often identifying our values can help us figure out how to make the best decision. When we make a decision without thinking about our values, that is when stress tends to occur. Additionally, it’s important to get a good unbiased opinion of what your strengths are as positioning yourself in a job focused on your strengths will lead to a more positive situation.

Question to ask yourself – “What are my top 5 values and why?”

2. Define multiple career paths that could be fulfilling

There probably isn’t only one career that will be fulfilling for you and trying to identify that one opportunity will only lead to frustration. It’s important to cast a wide net in the beginning and do some internal searching to figure out what could be interesting for you. It’s also vital to write all of these down as opposed to just thinking of them in your head, checking a few online job boards, and then moving on. Think about some careers your friends and family have and if you could see yourself in a similar situation. Try to think about people that are similar to you and the careers they have found themselves in.

Question to ask yourself – “What fulfills me outside of work, and why does that fulfill me?”

3. Identify your network and network of networks

It’s no secret that the way to a new job in 2019 is utilizing your network and network of networks. What I mean by network of networks are those people that are connected to people you know that are doing something that is interesting to you. Don’t be afraid to send a message on LinkedIn asking to learn about the work that someone else is doing. Do not ask for a job, but you never know where those LinkedIn coffee meetups can take you. Enter with a mindset of curiosity and learning as much as you can and leave by showing gratitude for the other person’s time. This is the part of the job process that can get some people uncomfortable, but there is a good way to do this. During or after your conversation, see if there is a way to provide value in this person’s life. Maybe they have young child that is an athlete and you can offer to do a free sports lesson, or possibly you can return the favor and connect them with someone in your network. Think of a way that you can provide value for this person taking the time to meet with you.

Question to ask yourself – “What value can I provide this person when we meet?”

4. Test out careers of interest

The try before you buy method that is typically mentioned in retail can also be useful when thinking about your career. It can be detrimental to rush into a career that you think is going to be great without doing your homework and actually figuring out ways to try it out. If you are interested in a specific career, ask to shadow someone for a few hours and actually try to do that type of work. If you are applying for a sales job, make sure that you know you like sales and try selling something even if that’s different than what you’ll be selling in your new job. This often requires thinking outside the box, but before making that jump, identify a few ways to test out what you’ll be doing next.

Question to ask yourself – “Where can I find opportunities for me to try out different careers?”

5. Launch into a job search

Most people skip the first four steps I’ve described above, and immediately launch into sending their resume into the dark hole that are job boards. They put their resumes on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Monster, etc. and get frustrated when nobody is reaching back out to them. The truth is that this does not work, and a very high percentage of jobs are not found this way. A better and more effective way is to utilize your network to learn about organizations that are of interest. Reach out to the alumni that works at a company you’re interested in or find a way to connect with someone at the company through a mutual friend, and offer to meet them around their office for coffee or for a quick phone conversation. The best way to learn is to ask questions and get curious about the good/the bad/the ugly of that organization.

Question to ask yourself – “What are the 5-10 organizations I’m interested in, and how can I make connections there?”

The two biggest issues I’ve found people make when looking for a meaningful career are, they don’t write down their thoughts/internal work and they do not fully utilize their network or network of networks. If you are ready to take the next step to find a career that you love and would like to work with me, feel free to email me at HFanaroff@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Five Ways the Washington Nationals Manager Embodies Leadership

As many baseball fans across the world are aware, the Washington Nationals came back from a season in which they started 19-31 to ultimately win the World Series. Winning the World Series is an incredible feat but doing so after such a difficult start is truly remarkable. In order to engineer such an incredible turnaround, it takes a true leader and team of leaders to make this happen. Given this remarkable story in my hometown of Washington DC, I wanted to share five ways Davey Martinez (Washington Nationals Manager) displays remarkable leadership traits.

  1. He accepts blame and deflects praise

Throughout the entire season, Davey was the king of accepting blame for struggles and then deflecting praise to his players when things were going well. He got torched by the media and fans when they were 19-31, but he continued to believe in his boys and accepted blame for the poor start. There’s no doubt that he kept the trust of his players by not throwing anyone under the bus. A weak leader would’ve blamed those players on his team, but a strong leader understands he needs his players and never blamed his guys. The manager of the team portrays the culture, and I love this quote from GM Mike Rizzo during their struggles, “Not one person pointed a finger, no anonymous quotes, no clubhouse lawyers, no backbiting,” said Rizzo. “Loyalty. And that’s why we’re here today.”

2. He focuses on the little wins

When they were 12 games under .500, it seemed impossible to climb back and get to where they ended the season, world champions. If they focused on being 12 games under .500, they wouldn’t have been able to make the climb up in the standings to get into the playoffs. Instead, Davey focused on and got his players to believe in the 1-0 mentality. I love Davey’s quote, “Remember, 1-0. 1-0 is not over. 1-0 means waking up tomorrow and winning your day. Win your day.” Davey focused on winning every day and accomplishing what they could every day, and that is what got them to their larger goal.

3. He keeps a positive mindset

It would’ve been easy for Davey to get down when they were struggling immensely in the beginning of the year. It would’ve been easy for him to change his personality and start being a hard-ass to his players and the other coaches, but Davey remained the same. He remained his usual calm, positive self and that got them out of the funk. I love this from Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. National, which embodies what Davey stands for, “I have had a lot of managers, obviously, and they all come into spring training and say they’re going to stay this way no matter what, we’re going to be here for you, it’s going to be us, we don’t care what anyone says,” Zimmerman said. “And then as soon as stuff goes bad, every manager has pretty much kind of thrown that out the window and sort of gone into self-preservation mode, where Davey, honestly, has stayed the same way. He’s positive every day, his energy, he always trusts his players and has his players’ backs. And I don’t think it’s been any different this year, even when we started as poorly as we did, he stayed the same.”

4. He trusts his people

Many fans and people in the media called for the Nationals to make radical changes to their team when they were 19-31. They said they should trade x player, release x player, but Davey continued to believe in his people and knew they would come around. That belief in his players helped them get to where they ended up as world champions. I love this quote from Davey when the Nationals were at their lowest point, “When we get healthy, we’re going to take off.” Davey never lost the belief in his guys and he got the ultimate reward for it.

5. He stands up for his team

A good leader stands up for his team and makes sure they know he has their back. Davey isn’t one to lose his cool, but in game 6 of the World Series when the umpires made an unbelievably bad call, he stood up for his guys. Davey understood the magnitude of the moment and how his team needed to know that he had their back. He argued a call and ultimately got thrown out of the game. Davey probably knew his actions were going to get him tossed out of the biggest game he’d ever coached, but a good leader always does whatever it takes to stand up for their team. After his ejection post-game Davey shared a quote that sums up his leadership, “I don’t want to sit here and talk about me or the umpires,” Martinez said. “This is not about me or the umpires. This is about the Washington Nationals and those guys in the clubhouse coming to Game 6 and playing lights out, knowing that this could be it. And I’m super proud of them.”

6 Ways To Improve Your Confidence

I’ve been working with a lot of people that are in the process of switching jobs or trying to switch jobs whether that be internally or externally, and therefore going through the interview process. While going through the interview process, I hear a lot of “I’m not confident enough,” or “when I didn’t get the job, the feedback was that I wasn’t confident enough in my communication.” The good news here is that confidence can be built, and people are not born with confidence. That fact in itself is pretty surprising to people and once we start to believe that, we can get on the road to improving our confidence. Given how often I’ve been hearing the statement, “I want to improve my confidence,” I figured I’d share six things you can do to improve your confidence.

  1. Prepare for the event

Perhaps the most important thing you can do before an important conversation whether that be an interview, client meeting, or meeting with your boss is make sure you are prepared. Have you thought about the potential questions they could ask, have you done enough research on the position, do you know your client’s priorities based on what you can find online? These are all important question to make sure you know so you are prepared. If you have done your preparation, there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel ready for the big meeting.

2. Practice like the performance

A lot of the times, we aren’t used to having “important” conversations and when we finally get into that situation, we freeze or talk too fast. It’s important in your preparation to re-create what the meeting or interview will be like. Try getting time with a friend, colleague, or family member to put yourself in a situation where you can go through what this interview or meeting will look like. Get feedback from that person after the mock meeting and treat it exactly like you would the actual meeting. If you already go through this type of pressure via a mock interview or mock meeting, by the time you have the actual meeting, it will be way less intimidating.

3. Notice your self-talk

What we tell ourselves is so incredibly important and taking control of our self-talk is an underutilized skill. We have the ability to control what we tell ourselves and stopping those negative thoughts is crucial. It’s the norm to have one bad meeting/interview and therefore think that all the others will be just like that. However, we can change those thoughts and it starts by just recognizing what those thoughts are and being with them. Understanding that one bad meeting/interview doesn’t make all of them bad, and that the next one can be your best. Think of a mantra or saying that you can say to yourself before the meeting/interview that can help your self-talk.

4. Embrace or push away the pressure

Understand if you are a person that thrives on pressure or chooses not to think about pressure. For the select people that thrive on pressure situations, think of ways that you can make this situation big and important. For the majority of us that work better when we don’t hype situations up in our mind, find ways to mitigate the importance of the meeting. If it’s an important meeting with someone very high up in the organization, tell yourself things like “they put their pant leg on one leg at a time,” “this is just another meeting, there will be plenty more,” and “they’re just another person,” as opposed to our typical thought of  “Oh my God, this person is so important I need to make sure I’m elevating my voice.”

5. Explore where your confidence comes from

Start to do some exploring whether that be with yourself or with another colleague/friend/coach as to where your confidence comes from. Is there something holding you back that you think was a huge deal, but really once you talk it out, you understand it’s not that a big deal and happens to everyone? It can be so rewarding and relieving to understand that everyone goes through events where they “fail,” and it’s human to have bad meetings/interviews. It’s worth it to talk it out and figure out where your lack of confidence is coming from and having that conversation can help relieve your stress from a specific event.

6. Focus on your body language

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication and found that 55% of any message is conveyed through nonverbal elements. It’s very common that our words are expressing confidence in a certain situation, but our body language is exuding no confidence. Make sure you are sitting up tall, projecting your voice, making solid eye contact, and doing your best to mirror the body language of the other person. It’s your job to connect with the other person and bringing strong body language can help with your confidence. It’s very often not what we say but how we say it that people will comprehend from us.

5 Tips for New Managers

In many of the coaching conversations I have with emerging leaders in organizations, the question of “how can I be the best manager?” continues to come up. People are hungry to be effective managers and want to know the secret sauce to managing people. They are afraid of micro-managing, but at the same time want to ensure their direct reports are making progress on the overall organizational goals. People thrown into managerial roles are often never trained and therefore worry if they are managing “correctly.” I have spent a lot of time studying how to be the most effective manager, have been managed by many different people, and managed many different people so wanted to share five tips for new managers.

  1. Have your direct report fill out a new team member document

I share a “new team member document” with every new manager that brings up this topic of how to be the best manager. The truth is most people don’t take the time to learn about their direct report – what motivates them, why they took this job, what their goals/dreams are, etc. and by asking these questions you are separating yourself as a manager. Additionally, take 30 minutes with your direct report to talk through their answers as there may be things they didn’t want to write down. Even if you’ve been managing someone for a long time, it’s still recommended to have this type of conversation later in the relationship.

2. Manage the whole person

It’s so important to understand who the person is both inside and outside of the office. People are going to be much more motivated when they believe that their boss cares about who they are as a person. As long as the person wants to share, figure out what’s going on with the person outside of work. Understand that they are a person with interests and hobbies outside of the office and they probably want to share these with the people they spend so much time with.

3. Provide feedback with clear examples

Whether it be positive or negative, people want feedback with direct examples so they can learn. Feedback can be scary for some new managers and they can be worried about making their direct reports feel bad, but that can be mitigated by providing timely and direct feedback. Take it to the next level by understanding how your direct report likes to receive feedback. Does he/she prefer it be sent via email first so they can digest it, or do they prefer all feedback be in person?

4. Find a way to connect

Even if you don’t seem like you have much in common with that person you manage, it’s so important to find some way to connect with them on a deeper level than just the role. Be intentional to really listen in your early conversations for certain topics (travel, kids, siblings, sports, etc.) that you can connect with your direct reports on. It’s so important that you develop a relationship with your direct report, and that’s going to be done by creating those connections with shared interests.

5. Be a human being

This should be the golden rule of managing, but really this is what it comes down to. The best managers I’ve seen and studied are the most understanding of the people that they manage. Unfortunately, a lot of new managers are so worried about production and hitting goals, that they forget to treat the people that they manage like human beings. As long as your direct report is doing their job and getting their work done, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt when they are asking to do things like visit family for the holiday’s or go to a doctor appointment in the morning.