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Disrupting to Develop: Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Episode #1008: Conquer uncomfortable questions and confidently navigate the waters of virtual coaching with insights provided by Adam Harris, co-author of the Check-In Strategy Journal and CEO of Frank and Fearless Consulting. Continue reading for Adam's take on excavating goals and defeating fears to achieve personal and professional growth.

About Adam Harris

Adam Harris is an executive coach and co-author of the Check-In Strategy Journal, a daily tracker for business and personal development. Adam is one of the youngest appointed Vistage Chairs in the UK, and seeks to instill deeper conversations and push the boundaries of traditional coaching. The Check-In Strategy Journal, co-authored by Adam, supports his clients and others on their journey to achieving personal and business goals. These contributions to the executive coaching community make Adam Harris an indispensable member of the community with a wealth of ideas and knowledge on the continuation of growth and development.

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Key highlights

A lifetime of learning

Timestamp 00:52

Adam Harris explains his lifelong passion of learning at the beginning of the episode. Adam is always striving to attend as many trainings possible and learn from those different than him. He states that “appreciation and understanding for learning changed quite dramatically” when he realized that he would learn more from those that are different from him. Beginning in his career as a teacher and moving to an IT trade association, Adam has continued to learn and develop his professional career. It was because of his skill development and capabilities that Adam was invited to lead a group by a Vistage chair.

Remote coaching today

Timestamp 4:34

In the process of moving his family to New Zealand, Adam transitioned his coaching clients to a virtual platform. Adam continues to coach many clients from his roots in the UK virtually and encourages them to develop their businesses toward their personal goals. When Adam first moved his business to a virtual platform, he received some skepticism, but Adam accounts for this by understanding the different methodologies of in-person and virtual coaching. He states that “you need to really hone in… understand the nuances… {and} focus in the particular areas” to be a successful online coach.

From teaching to coaching

Timestamp 10:19

Beginning his career as a teacher, then transferring to the IT world, Adam had continually developed his knowledge and skills. Through his IT career, he experienced working within the UK government and being surrounded by bright minds full of ideas. Adam says that he thrives

“in situations where [he’s] the least-smartest person in the room” and he uses these moments as an opportunity to listen and gain ideas from those around him. Adam continued his career into a lecturer position within a University. It was at the University where he was given the opportunity to ask students what their next steps were in their lives and informally coach them through lectures.

Being yourself

Timestamp 13:14

Through his many years of experience, Adam has learned that it is essential to be yourself. In his early career, Adam explains that he wasn’t in the stage of understanding what he had to bring to the table. Through experience and learning, Adam came to realize that “I am who I am and actually, there’s no point in trying to be somebody else…” and this has driven him to develop new and unique ideas in his coaching practice that develop his clients in new and exciting ways.

“I am who I am and actually, there’s no point in trying to be somebody else…”

Living for the lightbulb moments

Timestamp 15:25

When Adam is asked what his “why” is, he states that it all comes back to the lightbulb moments he has with clients. He enjoys, personally and professionally, seeing his clients excel in new ways and achieve their goals. Adam also states that clients can only go at the pace they wish to go. Adam is most motivated when his clients pick their own pace, use the tools and environment provided, and accomplish their goals after asking the tough questions and working through difficult issues.

Disrupting to develop

Timestamp 17:40

Adam’s best day ever as a coach was when he disrupted a meeting to address unspoken issues, for the sake of the business. He states that he received some disapproval, but by the end of the meeting, the organization had realized the intense need to address unsolved issues. By addressing the elephant in the room, Adam was able to develop the company on a deeper level and prevent seemingly small issues from growing into monumental problems. One of the phrases Adam uses is: “If it feels uncomfortable, then I’m exactly in the right place.”

“If it feels uncomfortable, then I’m exactly in the right place.”

Adam believes that this lack of comfort is completely acceptable and beneficial to the clients and organizations involved. In his own practice, he informs clients that he will ask uncomfortable questions, then dive deeper to understand why they are uncomfortable in order to address the potential fears and failures of his client. He uses this creatively in his coaching as part of his personal technique. Adam likes to use questions such as “on a scale from one to ten…” to further understand what his clients are facing, thinking, and feeling. He believes that by understanding their perspective, he is able to better offer them alternative perspectives which develop and grow a business exponentially.

The Check-In Strategy

Timestamp 27:06

Adam Harris’ book, The Check-In Strategy Journal, encourages business leaders to pause and reflect on their goals and steps to achieve said goals between coaching sessions. The Check-In Strategy Journal was developed as Adam perceived a lack of personal-development journals that incorporated business perspectives in the marketplace. With his co-author, he published this journal to address that need and confront the lack of goal accomplishment that can be seen in-between coaching sessions. People use this journal corporately and personally. In corporations such as Google and the YMCA, the journal has been implemented and has changed the conversation between managers and employees. Impacted participants are now using the questions addressed in this journal in their own work lives to help them dive deeper and succeed with their coworkers.

Learning through leaving

Timestamp 34:04

When asked about how Adam has learned from previous failures, Adam tells the story of how he left a business where values were misaligned between him and his partner. Although he made the right decision, he realized that he needed to ask the opinions of those close to him in order to make effective business choices. This is one of the many reasons Adam takes part in an executive coaching group that acts as a source of honest feedback and support. Through this experience, Adam has learned to ask for thoughts, feelings, and opinions of those around him.

A changing industry

Timestamp 39:37

Adam states that the coaching industry is actively changing, especially by the influence of the younger generations. He explains that their use of online services such as Xbox and LinkedIn promote a new type of executive coaching group. Time has also become very limited for new

entrepreneurs as the economy has developed into a more on-demand and technologically advanced economy. In Adam’s experience he has learned that bite-sized coaching sessions are well accepted by many individuals, but each client needs to have their sessions catered to their time and location needs.

Addressing remote challenges

Timestamp 44:18

Though remote coaching is often challenged by some individuals, Adam states that it has the potential to be just as viable of a resource as in-person coaching. This is because Adam takes the time to understand the “rule of engagement” or the requirements that must be met on each platform. Adam uses his instinct to ask real and impactful questions both online and in-person, and conforms the format of his sessions with regard to the platform used. According to Adam, routine is not something to be embraced by an accomplished coach. He supports the use of alternative ideas such as walking and talking virtually or talking without the camera on depending on what works best for the client at the moment.

Achievement on your own terms and closing advice

Timestamp 48:24

Throughout his speaking career, Adam has noticed that some professionals speak because they enjoy the applause at the end of a job well done. For Adam this is not the case. He states that he doesn’t need the instant gratification and seeks the “get the verification yourself” knowing that you did a good job on your own terms of success. While Adam believes in self verification he also states that it is important for new executive coaches to get their own personal coach. He believes that this will inspire new ideas and bring in different perspectives that would be helpful in their own practice. He also believes that new coaches should be in an executive coaching group for a source on unfiltered feedback and perspective.

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