10 Life Lessons from Admiral William H. McRaven

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In his 2014 commencement speech, former Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven offered 10 life lessons to the University of Texas at Austin’s graduating class. Through his experience in the military and basic Navy Seal training, he developed 10 salient elements to help the graduating students understand how they can help change the world as their journey begins beyond college life.

I would encourage you all to watch his full speech. It will be 19 minutes and 26 seconds well spent!


This speech is not only profound and entertaining from a man that has accomplished much in his life, but it is also simplistic in nature. He talks about how the little things, when done well, can and will lead to changes in your life, drive your destiny, and in turn, will be a step forward in changing the world. These lessons are very humbling yet develop great character. Whether you apply these to your business, home life, or your life in general, they can have a profound effect on changing your life and the world around you.

After his introduction, he starts with the University of Texas’ motto, “What starts here changes the world.” Then he goes on to put this motto into context for his speech:

“It matters not whether you ever serve a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your sexual orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar. And the lessons to overcome those struggles, and to move forward, changing ourselves and changing the world around us, will apply equally to all.”

Then Admiral McRaven takes a deep dive into 10 drills and exercises from basic Navy Seal training, that although they may seem mundane, and at times brutal or abusive, he took a lesson out of each one and applied it to his journey through his career and life.


  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

Every morning, the drill instructor would come into the barracks for bed inspection. Every bed had to be tucked perfectly and folded a certain way. Although this seemed trivial and a mundane task, it developed a sense of accomplishment to start your day; something you can take pride in a job well done. This task is about holding yourself accountable to start your day on a positive note with a task completed perfectly. The little things do matter, so start your day with something simple with a task completed.


  1. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Divided into groups of six, students had to paddle a rubber boat through rough seas to a specific destination. Each paddler had to be synchronized with the others and work as a team with equal effort from each person in the boat. Going out of sync would cause the boat to go off course. This exercise is about having confidence in others and the importance of a team effort. You can’t do it alone. Seeking help from others, whether it’s friends, business associates, vendors, coworkers, or credible strangers, all can help guide your boat in the right direction through life.


  1. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers.

Admiral McRaven recalls one boat crew made up of all little guys, 5’ 5” and smaller, and they called them The Munchkin Crew. The taller guys would always make fun of their little flippers. This incentivized the Munchkin Crew to work harder as a team, with a lot of heartfelt energy, and they would routinely outpace and outperform the taller guys. The lesson learned here is that physical stature, or any physical characteristic for that matter, does not determine one’s success. We should respect everyone’s talents no matter their size, ethnicity, race, or social standing and how they can have a positive impact.


  1. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Throughout each week during training, the drill instructor would conduct a uniform inspection. No matter how perfect the uniform was, the instructor would always find something wrong with someone’s uniform. Whoever failed the uniform inspection for any reason would have to run fully uniformed to the surf on the beach, dive in to get wet, and then roll in the sand on the beach until they were covered in sand. They called this the “Sugar Cookie” drill. Some of the students would get frustrated knowing that no matter how perfect their uniform was, the instructor would always find a flaw. The ones that couldn’t accept this fact never made it through the training. The message here is that life is not always fair. Suck it up and move on.


  1. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circus.

Every day of training was filled with physical activity. Running, swimming, calisthenics, obstacle courses, and the like. There were minimum times set to complete these exercises, and if you didn’t meet these standards, your name was put on a list to get invited to “The Circus.” This was an extra two hours’ worth of exercises designed to break you down and make you want to quit. Everyone in training made the list at one time or another, yet those that made the list consistently and didn’t quit got stronger and better. This teaches us not to be afraid to fail often, learn from it, work hard, and get better.


  1. If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle headfirst.

During training, all the students are required to complete a 25-step obstacle course. One section of the course involved using a rope attached to a 30-foot-tall tower and climbing down this rope for 200 feet until you reached the end. There was a very impressive, best record that hadn’t been touched for years until one of Admiral McRaven’s classmates decided to slide down the top of the rope headfirst. This was very dangerous because he had to balance himself to prevent falling to the ground while laying on top of the rope sliding downward. He took the risk anyway and beat the record by half. Go ahead and take calculated risks.


  1. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

During a section of their training, they had to swim in the water along San Clemente Island, a breeding ground for Great White sharks. The students were made aware of the presents of sharks in these waters and the different species. Night swims were also part of this drill, making it appear even more dangerous. They were told that if they encountered a shark to “stand your ground” and do not swim away or act afraid. And if the shark did get close, to kick or punch it in the head. Easier said than done, but they did it. Admiral McRaven says that we will run into a lot of sharks and bullies in the world, but we should face them down, hold our ground, and deal with them.


  1. If you want to change the world, be your very best in the darkest moments.

While training for underwater attacks against enemy ships, the students had to swim two miles underwater at night to an enemy ship with nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get them there. There was some ambient light, but once they got close to the ship, the ship blocked the little light they had. The divers are expected to swim to find the center of the ship, known as the keel. At this depth and with the ship blocking any light, the diver can become disorientated and panicked. The divers are told to stay calm and composed at this moment and to focus on the job at hand. The lesson here is to stay calm and step up when times are the toughest.


  1. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

During the 9th week of training, “Hell Week” starts. This is where the students have six days of no sleep and continuous physical activity and mental harassment. Then to top the week off, this is followed by a day in the mudflats. The students were expected to spend 15 hours in a mud swamp in freezing cold while the instructors yelled and encouraged them to quit. They were told that they could leave if only five men would quit. As they shivered from the cold, one man began to sing, and slowly the others followed. As they sang in unison, it lifted their spirits and helped them get through the drill without quitting. Life’s lesson: Lifting the oppressed and those badly treated by authority will give them hope.


  1. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

There is a brass bell hanging in the center of the training compound, and if you want to quit, all you have to do is ring the bell. No more 5:00 am wake-up calls, brutal drills, harassment, and abuse. Some quit; others stay the course so they can change the world. The point here is that no matter how tough things get in business or life, never give up.


Our lives are not as brutal and tough as Navy Seal training, yet simple lessons can be learned from their training tactics that can change our lives and change the world. Start each day with a simple task completed. Find others to help you through life. Show respect to everyone, especially those that we consider different than us. Remember that life is not fair and that you will fail often. Take calculated risks and step up during the tough times. Facedown the bullies, lift up the oppressed, and never give up.

If we all follow Admiral McRaven’s advice and pass it along to others, we can change our business, change our lives, and change the world!


Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Simplify Now, Diversify Later

My six-year-old has enjoyed…or hated, and I’m not sure…a summer filled with ‘summer camps.’ She’s too young to be working with mom every day, not that I wouldn’t have her answer the phone, but she doesn’t read yet, so typing articles and sending emails…well…let’s give her a few years. I couldn’t stomach the idea of her laying on a couch at her grandma’s watching TV all summer long, so lo and behold, I signed her up for everything I could find: art camp, “Singing in the Rain” camp, “Beauty and the Beast” camp, Bible camp, swimming lessons, and finally, this week, the grand finale of them all…MUD CAMP! She’s waited all summer long for mud camp at the Tennessee Aquarium; meeting new animals, discovering the ecosystems in mud puddles, exploring through the Chattanooga Nature Center, riding a school bus for the very first time! All of these things have been much anticipated…all summer.

So, I’m sure you can imagine with me my surprise when each day this week as I picked her up from mud camp and eagerly awaited the download of her day…silence. Nada. That’s right, a big fat nothing. Too tired to communicate, she climbed into my SUV each day, buckled herself in, and zoned into the abyss on the 45-minute car ride home. I couldn’t believe it!!! I mean, come on, at least tell me all this crazy schedule rearranging, and my co-working from a different office has been worth it!! At least tell me you’re having fun!


Until yesterday, remember, she’s six. The first words she uttered on the way home yesterday? “I’m in love. His name is Owen; we shared popcorn today.” *Insert her giggles here.*


And just like that, she’s in love. Definitely not the moment I’d been waiting for.

You know, something else that isn’t the moment we’ve all been waiting for? That moment your customers call you in the heat of summer to complain about something your guys did that wasn’t even in the original scope of work! And now your week is backed up triple calls thick, fixing problems created by your team instead of responding to profitable repair and replacement calls.

That’s right, left-field curveball coming at you – it’s time to get to the meat of what I’m really excited to share with you today.

The number one relationship killer is unrealistic expectations.

Something that’s been inspiring me lately is the Inc. Best Book for Business Owners, Built to Sell. In Built to Sell, they make a recurring point, “You must have a sales engine that will produce predictable recurring revenue.” The word recurring can be taken in many ways, and I’m not talking about ‘recurring’ incoming from service agreement billings. I’m talking about recurring predictable service calls, even if they’re with a multitude of customers.

Stay with me here. It’s summer, the phones are ringing off the hook, and you have the opportunities right in front of your nose to make back the money you lost in the spring, or last fall, during the slow times. Watch out, don’t get busy with the wrong calls. We’ve said this before in our YouTube video, ‘Creative Call Taking,’ but this is an entirely different angle. What I mean is, watch out for the specialty calls. Don’t get stuck in the “super-specialty” scenarios right now that drain the energy out of your team and have possible room for error. Save the specialties for the fall when you’re open to diversifying. Otherwise, you risk doing those calls halfway or at less than your top quality, which could mean losing those customers in the future.  

Right now, focus on the bare-bones basic relevancy of what you do. For example, you’re a plumbing company, and you do plumbing really well. This isn’t to say that you should be doing “drive-thru,” low-quality service. That should never happen. And it doesn’t mean only doing basic repairs either. But what it does mean is that right now, it’s not the time to be extending beyond your wheelhouse. It’s the time to do what you’re best at over and over so you can maximize the efficiency of your team.  

Standardize your priority services now so you can charge upfront, and always do charge upfront. In the busy season, productize your services and cherry-pick the dispatch board for the calls you know your team does really well with and will be profitable for your company. Not only that but on those calls, track the leads for those that you could offer more diverse services to in the slow season.

Because in the slow season, that’s the time when you can afford to branch out into more specialty and add-on services; that’s when you diversify simply because it’s business, and it’s the job of the CEO to find the money and opportunities for the business. 

This is when you take the time to develop even greater expertise in those specialty jobs and new types of jobs so you can hone the craft while the demand is low…and then you’re able to carry your improvements and your new skills into upcoming seasons. 

Eventually, those might become part of your basic services, too, but the busy season is not the time to try your hand at the next obscure skill. Is this way of thinking too inconsistent for our customers? What’s wrong with scheduling ‘specialty’ services in the fall? Custom services don’t scale, and when you’re busy, you need to be scalable.

Call me crazy, but not for my focused ideas. Call me crazy cause I’m a mother trying to figure out how to get her six-year-old out of love and talking about alligators and river otters again!


Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Goldfish and Business Myths

My dad went to the pet shop and purchased 15 goldfish over the summer. He doesn’t have an aquarium; he’s never been into ‘fish,’ but he thought his grandkids (who happened to be spending a lot of time at his house over the summer months while out of school) would enjoy swimming in the hot tub with the fish! As you could guess, in Georgia, in the summer, the family hot tub becomes a cold tub and is used more for a grandkid splash pool on the deck. 

I saw a few Facebook posts of him showing off the goldfish and watching certain grandkids with goggles paddling around in the tub – heck, it looked like fun – and naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my two girls (ages five and three) over to visit for their turn of fun. 

Their turn of fun came, and at the end, the tantrums began. Who would want to load up in a car to go home? Who would want to obey their mother and leave a ‘swimming pool filled with fish?’ Sigh—the exaggerations of a child’s mind. 

Grandpa quickly gauged what was happening and swiftly chimed in, “Oh no worries, girls! You can each take a fish home with you!” as I dramatically shook my head ‘no!’ in the background. 

Naturally, I sent the two fish immediately to the “other grandparents’ home” so when the kids were there after school, they could spend time with their fish – and the other grandparents fed, cared for, and kept the fish alive until one day, one died.

But there was still one fish left – a goldfish, and he or she, I’m not sure which gender, was white. And quite ugly at that. 

Fast forward, the other grandparents went out of town, and somehow, the solo white goldfish ended up at my house, in its bowl with pink rock pebbles decorating the bottom. 

At first, I refused to care for the fish – I told my daughters each day, “Feed your fish!” 

I taught them to simply use one small pinch of their fingers to drop the food in the bowl each evening. “Careful now, not too much; if you overfeed a goldfish, it will die; its stomach will explode.” And then, each week when the water was too thick to see through, I’d set out another bowl of water overnight and move the fish to the new bowl the next morning – why? I don’t know. Somewhere along the way, I’d heard as a child that it would kill a fish to put them in cold water immediately, so you had to let it sit overnight to achieve ‘room temperature water’ before transferring the fish into the clean ‘tank.’ 

I don’t even recall owning a pet fish as a child, so how did I have such opinions as to its care? 

And of course, I knew the myth we all know: “Goldfish can only grow to the size of their fishbowl.” 

Want a bigger fish? Get a bigger fishbowl! 

Sound familiar? 

“Want a bigger company? Just hire more techs!” 
“Want to be at $100 million in revenue? Easy! Just get a bigger building; be a bigger company!”


Myth busters, according to a goldfish, would laugh in our faces. 

What really stunts a goldfish’s growth is not the size of its bowl but the poor water quality and improper care. 

There’s more than meets the eye. Under the right conditions, goldfish are a fantastic species of fish to keep. They are hardy, adaptable, long-lived, and have an extensive and interesting history, just like us service providers. 

And they’re smart, too. Goldfish can be taught to pull a lever for food! In a lever experiment involving goldfish, they were even able to realize within an hour that if the lever stopped producing, it wasn’t worth pulling anymore. 

My non-fish owning years as a child also taught me that goldfish don’t have memories – no big deal if they have dirty water and die easily; they don’t remember their day-to-day. Wow, what airwaves was I listening to? In my research today about goldfish, I’m learning their memory lasts up to three months – so swimming around in a fishbowl all day, lapping circle after circle is indeed very boring. 

In a matter of weeks, I went from being a cold-hearted, busy working mom with an irritation towards goldfish to a mother who enjoys sitting quietly by the fishbowl in the mornings. Not only do I now call the fish my own, but I turn the lamp on above his or her bowl in the mornings when it’s quiet and the children aren’t pulling at my hem; I nestle in while it’s still dark outside underneath the lamp on a grey couch in my den, and slowly sip my coffee. I’ve become obsessed with keeping the fishbowl clean, and in those mornings, I’m noticing how pretty the ugly duckling actually is. In fact, I think I’ve actually named the fish—Ginger.

And wouldn’t you know it, I’m starting to know when Ginger is hungry! When I walk by, and she gives me those eyes while opening and closing her mouth, I’m reminded of feeding time. 

I’ve changed from a fish hater to a fish appreciator – I now have the habit engraved in my morning schedule to spend time with my fish. 

As business owners, how much of our marketing, our management, our day-to-day, is run out of the myths from our childhood? 

Hear me out— this is really deep stuff here, no fish-bowl-deep-water pun intended. As the daughter of a contractor, how many perspectives did I gain because of my father that were good? How many habits for running a business did I inherit that was priceless? And on the other hand, how many myths did I also receive by generational pass down? 

Dirty water and poor filtration stunt a fish’s growth because it affects their health – an unhealthy fish becomes deformed and dies young. Healthy goldfish have been known to live for up to 49 years. 

Goldfish can grow big even in a small fishbowl if the water is clean, filtrated, and the fish is properly nourished. Is the nourishment of our business based on myths we believed as an early manager or young owner? As Charlie Greer says, “Evolve or Die.” 

So, in case you are fishing for a few simple takeaways, here’s the list:

1. The health of your business is only as good as its environment. 

2. The only way for your business to stay alive or grow is for you to nurture it and take care of it.  

3. The things you have always been told about being in business or about the industry might actually be myths; don’t be afraid to research, change, and grow when your business gives you “those eyes,” telling you it’s hungry for something more.

4. Try to re-see your business as you did on the first day, stuffed to the gills with those childlike exaggerations and dreams in your head again.


P.S. I’ve got a bunch of extra coffee cups—I’m serious—from a recent over shipment – can I send you one? Shoot me an email requesting a cup, and you’ll receive it in the mail along with a one-page myth-buster report on Goldfish, simply because it’s cool. danielle@menupricing.com Looking forward to hearing from you. 


Written by Danielle Putnam, President of The New Flat Rate and Immediate Past President of Women in HVACR

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Eliminating Conflict between Technicians and Dispatchers

By Brandi Loudermilk, CSR Coach at Service Excellence Training

The ongoing conflict between field staff and office staff is not new. It has been a pain point for business owners for years. It is like siblings bickering over who gets to sit in the front seat of the car for the short drive to the grocery store.

This does not only does this conflict annoy leaders, managers, and owners. It can also negatively impact business. Depending on the severity of the conflict, everything from the quality of customer service to revenue may suffer from the fallout. Another huge side effect of this conflict is employee turnover.

So, what causes this costly and time-consuming conflict? If you ask the technicians, they will say the dispatchers are at fault. And if you ask your dispatchers, they will say the technicians are at fault. However, the truth is, there is fault on both sides.

In core training that Service Excellence Training provides to CSR’s and dispatchers, there are always four major pain points that escalate the ongoing conflict between office and field workers. These four points are universal, and any company can fall victim to the consequences of these issues.


  1. Misaligned Goals

The dispatcher has a goal to keep the schedule moving on time. The technician has a goal of diligently working through their calls, making money, and getting home to their family at a decent time.

The Fix: Get their goals aligned and communicate those goals to everyone.

  • Dispatch the correct technician to the correct call. ServExtra recommends dispatching based on performance and communication style of both the client and the technician.
  • Provide exceptional client transformations on every call. If goal one is accomplished, this one should fall into place.
  • Create an environment where everyone wins. The client wins with a great service experience, the technician wins by getting to the right calls, and the dispatcher wins by having a clear protocol to follow. The company also wins because everyone is working together.


  1. Lack of Appreciation for Teammates

The root of this conflict point is the “us” vs “them” mentality. It is vital to help team members understand the importance and challenges of different roles in the company.


The Fix:

  • Have your dispatcher ride along on calls with a technician. This will give the dispatcher a deeper appreciation for the process that technicians do, the challenges they face, and the discomfort they deal with.
  • Have your technician sit with the dispatcher, and not during a slow time! Let the technician see the game of “Tetris” that dispatchers play every day. Make sure the technician understands that when they do not communicate delays or hiccups with the office, the level of service to the client decreases and the job of a dispatcher is much more difficult.


  1. The Ever-Changing Schedule


When a technician sees their whole schedule and then sees it change for any number of reasons, they feel like they are being slighted. As any dispatcher knows, schedule changes happen all the time. It is important for the whole team to understand that until they are actually dispatched to a call, the schedule is tentative.

The Fix: Only show the technician one call at a time. That way, they are not aware of changes. They can also focus on the call they are on and not the other calls on their schedule.


  1. Communication.

This is by far the biggest hurdle in ending the conflict between dispatchers and technicians. The reason is, dispatchers always want more communication and technicians do not want to feel micromanaged. It leads to a lot of animosity between the two groups.

The Fix: Set up non-threatening communication channels. For example, have the dispatcher text the technicians 30 minutes or so before their next scheduled call asking, “How much longer do you need on this call?”

This is a very non-threatening message. It is not putting pressure on the technician to finish faster, it is not interrupting them like a phone call would, and it gives the technician a reminder in case they need to notify the office that they need more time.

It is also important to reinforce the need for communication both to the dispatcher and the technician. Dispatchers need to know if a call is going to take longer than anticipated so they can notify the next client in line. No one likes to show up to a call where the client is already angry. The technician may just need to understand the ‘why’ behind the communication requests. This will help them feel supported instead of micromanaged.


The conflict between the office and the field does not have to happen at your company. By eliminating this conflict, your company can continue to grow, provide amazing client transformation, and retain quality employees. It all starts with a culture that supports team members and does not pit them against each other.

If you would like more information on how you can help your CSRs and dispatchers improve their communication skills with your technicians, you can contact me at Brandy@ServExTra.com.

Brandy Loudermilk is a CSR coach at Service Excellence Training. She teaches call takers to close more calls, increase client satisfaction, and outbound for season leveling. 


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Breaking Habits or Creating New Ones?

By Steve Mores, VP of Training and Sales of Dynamic Air Quality Solutions

We have all heard this before: “You just have to get into the habit of doing it.” And that’s sometimes the advice and solution that owners and managers give their team when discussing how to correctly work a service, maintenance, or sales call to increase average tickets and close rates. Well, that may be easier said than done, and just saying it doesn’t make it happen. We all have habits, some good, and some bad. From our personal morning and daily to-do’s, to things we go through at work every day. We all have dozens of habits that get us through our daily routine. Some are bad like smoking, and some are great like regular visits to the gym.

Work-wise, some are bad as well. Like just going through the motions on a call to get it over with, and others are good like working with enthusiasm and sharing equipment problems, solutions, and accessory benefits with a homeowner on every call. Since we realize that our habits can be useful or detrimental behaviors, we often strive to correct the bad and improve the good.

Let’s take a deeper look at habit forming for a better understanding of where you may be in your company culture when it comes to promoting great habits.

Our phones now have apps that count calories, steps, and many other functions designed to help us form habits. These apps can be very useful if used regularly, and over time will form better habits. The question then becomes, “how much time does it take?”

There have been many scientific studies on the amount of time that it takes to form a habit. In Maxwell Maltz’s book titled “Psych-Cybernetics”, as plastic surgeon, he noticed that it took approximately 21 days for his patients to get used to their new facial look. So, many of these apps and other forms of creating new habits, or breaking old ones, base their time span on this 21 day assumption.

Yet, in 2009 Researchers from University College London studied the new habits of 96 people over a 12-week period and found that it takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to stick. The time span in this study varied from 18 to 254 days.

Psychology Professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne says that sometimes a habit can be broken quickly. “In extreme cases, the habit can be broken instantly, such as if you happen to become violently ill when you inhale cigarette smoke or nearly get hit by a bus when texting and walking. But in most cases, it’s going to take longer than that, and you should probably allow for at least two months.”

When examining several of these types of studies on the subject, many researchers throw out the low and high time span numbers and we end up with an average of 90 days. The take-away here is that to develop a new behavior, it will take nearly three months of constantly repeating the desired habit daily to get a positive result. As you stick with it beyond the 90 days, you’ll end up with a habit that you will keep without thinking about it.

This goes the same for breaking unwanted bad habits. As psychologist Timothy Pychyl explains, there are two sides of the same coin. “Breaking a habit really means establishing a new habit, a new pre-potent response. The old habit or pattern of responding is still there (a pattern of neuron responses in the brain), but it is less dominant (less potent).”

Neuroscientist Elliot Berkman reports that “It’s much easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something habitual without a replacement behavior…That’s one reason why smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or inhalers tend to be more effective than the nicotine patch.” It’s replacing one habit for another. Berkman also says that, “People who want to kick their habit for reasons that are aligned with their personal values will change their behavior faster than people who are doing it for external reasons such as pressure from others.”

Experts agree that other factors fall into play for breaking habits or creating new ones, and the right recipe is going to be a mix of personality, motivation, circumstances, and the habit in question.

You can see how all of this can apply to our personal lives, yet let’s address how we can apply this information when trying to mentor and motivate our team members.

  • Meet with team members one-on-one to set personal, family, and career goals. This is to give them skin in the game and something that they want to shoot for, not pressuring them to just do it for you and the company.
  • Discuss with them in this meeting their strengths and weaknesses. Then identify behaviors to start doing and those to quit doing to create great work habits that will help them achieve their goals.
  • Post their goals in the training/meeting room as a daily reminder of the purpose for their new behavior that will help them progress.
  • This should be a 90 day-plan where bad habits are substituted with a good replacement behavior. (i.e. Try to replace rushing through a maintenance call with pulling the blower wheel on EVERY call, cleaning off two fins to show the homeowner the dirt that’s getting through their current filter, and asking, “Would you like to see a better filter to prevent this from happening in the future?” This opens the door for an IAQ conversation and solution options.)
  • Hold them accountable to the new behavior by identifying the new behavior or task such as a KPI that is watched and measured.
  • Make it fun by adding it to your weekly training sessions and have a group discussion about the successes that the new habit is creating. This will also create comradery and support from other team members to keep each other on track to succeed in achieving their goals.
  • As you get closer to the 90-day mark, they will realize that the old habits have faded away, and they have become comfortable with the new habit that they will continue to do without thinking about it. It becomes habit!

To successfully break a habit, you need to think of your strongest motivation and goals, which will drive you along. Always think of replacing a bad behavior with a positive one. Just trying to stop a bad habit without a replacement is much more difficult to accomplish. And be patient with your team. The longer they’ve had a habit, the longer it will take to get rid of it.

Neuroscientist Elliot Berkman explains that “Longtime habits are literally entrenched at the neural level, so they are powerful determinants of behavior. The good news is that people are nearly always capable of doing something else when they’re made aware of the habit and are sufficiently motivated to change.”

As a closing note, I would encourage you to share this quote from Margaret Thatcher with your team. It says it all.

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!