The 7 habits for modern firms: Part 1

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Last Updated September 29, 2023


What do you want your legacy to be? 

Think about it. How do you want people to feel when you leave this earth? What will you leave behind? What would your partner or your children say about you? What about family and friends? Or co-workers or staff?

Would those close to you muse over the number of meetings you took, the number of tax returns you did or how often they heard you say that tax season sucked? Or would they say that you put people first and you made their lives better?

If these questions have you feeling a little concerned, don’t worry. The good news is that the legacy you leave is yours to control.

In their recent podcast, Darren Root, Chief Strategist for Right Networks, and John Mitchell, Culture and Workforce Advisor for Right Networks, dive into the first three habits of Stephen Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and how these habits have guided them in their business and personal lives.

Habit 1: Be proactive

The first habit Stephen Covey talks about is being proactive. Darren mentions that one of the core components he learned from being proactive is that there’s a space between stimulus and response. When something happens, and before you respond, the space between those moments is where you get to choose how you’ll respond.

You’re focusing on the things that you can control—that’s being proactive. It’s taking control of your firm and creating an intentional business model. Knowing WHO you want to serve, WHAT services you want to offer and HOW you’re going to deliver them. Having a clear business model gives you the ability to proactively serve your clients.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

The second habit Covey talks about is beginning with the end in mind. And that means knowing exactly what “success” means to you in the end. As John mentions, success can be defined differently throughout your life. You may think of success as money or travel, but the older you get—for John, at least—it’s that people matter most.

Understanding how you define success drives the decisions you make each day. And when you think about your firm, your definition of success may be different from someone else’s. You may define success as being able to leave your firm to your children to run; someone else may define it as selling the firm in order to retire.

No matter how you define success for yourself, it’s really about knowing that you get to choose based on the end in mind.

Habit 3: Put first things first

The third habit is putting first things first. It’s about prioritizing what’s important to you—both personally and professionally. A popular Covey exercise is imagining a container that represents your life, surrounded by big and small rocks that represent everything in your life. Check out this video with Stephen Covey to see what happens.

In your firm, how do you define the big rocks and the little rocks? Are tax returns or tax meetings considered big or little? How about your clients and your staff? Your jar can only hold so many rocks. If you fill it with too many small ones, there won’t be room for the big ones: your firm’s most valuable assets (i.e., your client list and your staff).

Darren points out that it may be easier to put the small rocks in first. But you have to put first things first, and then you can fill it with the small stuff.

Get your private victory

These three habits make up the concept of a private victory—and it starts with you. You, not someone else, have to take responsibility for your life. If you can be proactive, begin with the end in mind and put first things first, you’re well on your way to your private victory.

Remember: It starts with you. 

Be sure to subscribe to the Better Every Day podcast to catch part two of this series.

You can find a number of free on-demand webinars and blog articles on improving your firm at

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