Earlier today, I was stuck at my dentist’s office for an intolerably long time. After flipping through the only magazines in the waiting room, i.e. two issues of Entertainment Weekly from 2008, I noticed a dog-eared copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People lying on a side table. I’ve never actually read any portion of The Seven Habits, so it seemed like a moderately acceptable way to amuse myself while awaiting the bloody torture of a thorough teeth-cleaning. But after I skimmed through the introduction and the basic description for each of the seven habits, I realized something hilarious– the “habits” of basically every partner I work for constitute the polar freaking opposite of the habits associated with highly effective people:
- Never be proactive. Only react to external forces once they cannot possibly be ignored. Thwart any and all efforts to strategically prevent a crisis before it happens. Instead, wait until a fire has been burning for several days before deciding it’s important enough to require your precious time and attention, then scream at the same associate whose warnings you ignored days earlier and force her to clean up every aspect of the mess. And for good measure, tell her you’re only billing the client for half the time she spends on the clean-up because the client shouldn’t have to pay for “her” mistakes.
- Begin with no end in mind. Rush into tasking your team with research, drafting, or motion practice without any thought for a definable end goal or long-term plan. Never waste your precious time on mundane trivialities like the big picture. Instead, run your cases moment-to-moment, keeping in mind that the only goal for each moment is you being seen as right.
- Put last things first and first things last. You’re in charge, so you get to decide whether or not something is a priority. Everyone else can go to hell. And don’t hesitate to cut off your nose to spite your face whenever necessary.
- Never worry about creating mutually beneficial or win/win outcomes. What matters is that you’re right and that you’ve won. Also, since it’s up to you to define winning in any given situation, make it a point to redefine the concept as needed to insure that you’re never the loser.
- Seek first (and only) to be understood. On second thought, screw the entire concept of understanding, since all that really matters is being right. Your overriding goal in every single interaction should be to force others to concede that you’re right, even if they don’t understand you or if you aren’t making any sense.
- Divide, criticize, pit the team against one another, and defeat any chance of trust and understanding. None of these idiots can really be trusted, nor do they deserve praise or empathy. Never waste time leveraging individual differences to come up with advantageous solutions. In fact, you should only focus on individual differences to the extent that they’re useful in apportioning blame.
- You’ve never had any time to sharpen your saw, so make sure that no one on your team has time for personal fulfillment or recharging their batteries—balance doesn’t exist, and anyone who makes even a feeble attempt to carve out a few minutes for herself should be blasted for it.