The 7 habits for modern firms: Part 2

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Last Updated September 2, 2023


This blog is part 2 of a two-part series, “The 7 habits for modern firms.” Read part one, here.

Would you consider your life to be interruptible?

What I mean by that is, do you allow life’s interruptions to provide better outcomes? I know that may sound confusing…but stay with me. 

If you’re living an uninterruptible life, you’re not letting outside forces change things for the better. You’ve dug in your heels and are holding on to your own thoughts, beliefs and opinions for dear life. (If you remember from a previous Better Every Day podcast, that’s living inside your own ego shell.) 

If you want to make changes for the better, you have to break through that ego shell and begin to live an interruptible life. And Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” can help you do this. 

In part one of this two-part series, Darren Root, Chief Strategist for Right Networks, and John Mitchell, Culture and Workforce Advisor for Right Networks, walked through the first three habits that make up a personal victory: being proactive, beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first. 

In part two of their podcast,  they unpack the final four habits that define a public victory to help listeners grow in their business and personal lives. They also ponder ways to reframe society’s “win-lose” fixation to “win-win,” and uncover Covey’s eighth habit. 

Habit 4: Think win-win 

Many of us have grown up thinking that “win-lose” is the only way; that there’s a winner and a loser in every situation. For me to win, you have to lose. 

But why does it need to be that way? It doesn’t. One thing Darren has learned in his time as a firm owner, father and husband was that everyone can win—and that holds just as true in business. Team members can succeed together. Businesses begin to thrive when they focus on everyone being able to win.  

John muses that the gap he sees in business culture, in general, is directly related to the inability of leaders inside organizations to see the world as a win-win opportunity. Cultures are built around winners and losers, and a lack of trust within a company often stems from this win-lose mentality. 

No one has to lose for a company to win—there are enough seats around the table for everyone to pull up a chair. 

Habit 5:  Seek first to understand, then to be understood 

The fifth habit centers on taking the time to intentionally listen to someone’s thoughts, opinions and feelings. It’s about giving everyone the space to talk and making an effort to truly understand their points of view. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them—you just need to understand them, so they feel heard. 

This is why it’s so important for firm owners to consistently schedule one-on-one meetings with staff members. Even if it’s just a 15-minute meeting once a month, it provides an open forum to allow staff to speak candidly. You may not be able to solve all their problems in every meeting, but setting a repeat meeting is a good start. 

As John’s mom used to say, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason: You’re supposed to listen twice as much as you talk.” 

Habit 6: Synergize 

Synergy happens when you realize that you only truly win—personally or professionally—when you work together. It’s about incorporating the thoughts, knowledge, ideas and experience of those around you. And to Darren, that’s what it means to be highly effective. 

There is power in working together—sharing ideas and creating something even better. It’s proactively including your team, listening to different perspectives and even life experiences. And it’s about getting better every day by keeping your team engaged in the outcome. 

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw 

The seventh habit Covey talks about is sharpening the saw,—making the conscious effort to improve every day by living and improving upon each habit. If you’ve accomplished the first three habits (i.e., be proactive, begin with the end in mind and put first things first) to obtain your personal victory, it’s time to focus on public victories. 

But remember, you won’t get public victories without personal victories and vice versa. You need to constantly look for ways to improve yourself and lean on your team so your firm can improve as a whole. Whether that’s identifying your ideal clients with your team’s input, improving your firm culture based on your staff’s candor or homing in on the services you want to provide, it takes more than just you. It’s a collective effort. 

Be interruptible 

The eighth and final habit—one that needed its own book—is the speed of trust.  Covey says, “Trust always affects two outcomes: speed and cost.” You can’t move without trust, which applies to your personal and business lives. Your team needs to trust you and what you’re doing for your firm to succeed. To obtain that trust, you must be interruptible and open to new ideas and experiences.  

I’ll close with some very wise words from John: “If you’ve found yourself in a moment in your life where you’re uninterruptible, it’s your choice to be interrupted. And maybe it’s Steven that needs to interrupt your life.” 

Remember to subscribe to the Better Every Day podcast to learn more about getting better every day. You can also watch part 1 of our habits for modern firms series on YouTube.

You can find several free on-demand webinars and blog articles on improving your firm at 

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