The 8th Habit: How To Use It To Grow Your Fitness & Coaching Business

Hey, I hope you are doing well!

Today’s post is life changing (at least it was for me)….. I’m hoping the same for you!

If you’ve followed my work for any length of time, you know I read a lot (actually most are now audiobooks).  I’ve read (listened to) over 400 books on fitness, personal development, finance, leadership, management, technology, marketing, positive psychology, business, neuroscience and a wide array of other esoteric topics including nanotechnology and astrophysics. Ok, I’m a nerd!

One of my favorite books of all time is The 8th Habit by Steven Covey.

It changed the course of my business and life.

First, let’s recap his preceding epic work:

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has (imagine this) 7 habits that you need to know and put into practice.

Habit 1 – be proactive

This is the ability to control one’s environment, rather than have it control you, as is so often the case. Self-determination, choice, and the power to decide response to stimulus, conditions and circumstances

Habit 2 – begin with the end in mind

Covey calls this the habit of personal leadership – leading oneself that is, towards what you consider your aims. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.

Habit 3 – put first things first

Covey calls this the habit of personal management. This is about organizing and implementing activities in line with the aims established in habit 2. Covey says that habit 2 is the first, or mental creation; habit 3 is the second, or physical creation.

Habit 4 – think win-win

Covey calls this the habit of interpersonal leadership, necessary because achievements are largely dependent on co-operative efforts with others. He says that win-win is based on the assumption that there is plenty for everyone, and that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation of win-or-lose.

Habit 5 – seek first to understand and then to be understood

One of the great maxims of the modern age. This is Covey’s habit of communication, and it’s extremely powerful. Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy ‘diagnose before you prescribe‘. Simple and effective, and essential for developing and maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life.

Habit 6 – synergize

Covey says this is the habit of creative co-operation – the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which implicitly lays down the challenge to see the good and potential in the other person’s contribution.

Habit 7 – sharpen the saw

This is the habit of self-renewal, says Covey, and it necessarily surrounds all the other habits, enabling and encouraging them to happen and grow. Covey interprets the self into four parts: the spiritual, mental, physical and the social/emotional, which all need feeding and developing.

And now the 8th…. (and my lesson for you at the conclusion of this post)

The 8th Habit: From effectiveness to greatness.

It is 18 years since Stephen Covey published his legendary work “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, which was a hugely impactful book, selling many millions of copies around the world.  In that book, Dr. Covey showed you and I how to become as effective as we possibly could be. In the 8th Habit, he opens up more potential for us all – by moving from “effectiveness to greatness”. The world today is different, with more challenge, ambiguity and complexity and while the 7 Habits form a strong basis upon which to start, it is this next step – the 8th Habit –that will take us to true fulfillment in what Covey describes as the age of the knowledge worker.

The book is divided into two sections. The first focuses on “finding your voice” and the second on “inspiring others to find theirs”. Here is a synopsis of both parts:

Finding your voice.

The essence of this habit is that you will find your voice when you can say you are 100% involved with what you are doing in your life, so that your body, mind, heart and spirit are all engaged in whatever is important to you. To find your voice, you need to examine your natural talent, what you absolutely love to do, what really interests you. And you must listen to the confirming inner voice of your conscience that tells you what is the right thing to do.

We can discover our voice because of the 3 gifts we are born with:

Gift 1: The freedom to choose

Gift 2: The natural laws or principles – those that dictate the consequences of behavior. Positive consequences come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution

Gift 3: The four intelligences – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Covey talks about great achievers expressing their voice through the use of their intelligences; for example:

Great achievers develop their mental energy into vision

Great achievers develop their physical energy into discipline

Great achievers develop their emotional energy into passion

Great achievers develop their spiritual energy into conscience – their inward moral sense of what is right and wrong and their drive towards meaning and contribution.

Moral authority makes formal authority work towards positive ends. Hitler had vision, discipline and passion, but was driven by a mad ego. Lack of conscience and understanding of “Gift 2” was his downfall. We must control our ego and let our conscience guide our moment to moment behavior. As we develop the 4 intelligences, we will find our voice.

Covey says that the reality in business today is that there are many people who have not found their voices or have lost their voices. We see this every day – people go to work to serve their “bodily” needs, but do not really put their creativity, talent and intelligence into the job. Very true – and losing your voice is a good metaphor for understanding – the question of course is; how do we get our voice back?

Inspiring others to find their voice.

When you have found your voice, you can begin inspiring others to do the same – this is really about leadership. Great leaders have always inspired people to be self-aware, to find themselves and to find their voice – that is the essence of greatness. People and organizations who have truly found their voices go on to become great.

Leadership greatness is about 4 things; modeling the 7 habits, path finding, aligning and empowering. Path finding is about “one voice”, shared vision, values, uniting diverse people into one shared voice, creating order without demanding it. The voice of execution requires you to practice alignment so that the values and strategy are consistently executed without relying on the leader’s continuing presence. Covey goes on to reiterate a point previously made by John Kotter, that most organizations are over managed and under led, and the empowering role of leadership means creating agreements about goals that align with the company’s vision and then holding people accountable for results. He states that true empowerment is the natural result of both personal and organizational trustworthiness, which enables people to identify and then unleash their potential.

Organizational greatness comes from a vision, mission and values that bring clarity, commitment, translation, synergy, enabling and accountability. Covey says that an organization with great leaders (who live the 4 leadership roles of modeling, path finding, alignment and empowering) and great people (who have discovered their gifts and their voice) has hit the “sweet spot” – where the greatest expression of power and potential happens. He leaves us with 4 essential disciplines which, if practiced consistently, can vastly improve our ability to focus on and execute our top priorities:

Focus on what is important – focus only on a few crucial goals

Create a compelling scoreboard – people play differently when they are keeping score

Translate goals into specific actions – weekly and daily tasks

Hold each other accountable, all the time.

Both books should be in your library (or ipod).


The last segment of the 8th Habit has most influential to me. I learned to find the most satisfaction in my work when I was able to help others (you) find your voice.

What does that mean?

To me, finding your voice is gaining the ability, knowledge and power to speak your mind and then empower (or better yet) repower people to live at a higher level.  This can be personally, physically or professionally. When your clients find their voice, they will know you helped develop that skill and they will be forever grateful. In return, you will receive high praise and endless referrals. Of course, this is above and beyond your personal joy!

As a trainer or coach, your job is to gain your voice and then help others find their voice as well. Always remember this. It is the single most important thing you do each day.

I am so fortunate to have learned from and worked with some of the top coaches and leaders in our industry (scroll for list).  I just wish I could have worked with Dr. Covey before he passed away.

Please USE YOUR VOICE and give me your thoughts on this topic.  Tell me how you are helping your clients find their voice!



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