24 JULY, 2018
If you have ever had a conversation with me for more than an hour, chances are I will bring up the book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This short book has had a profound impact on my life and I have come to use it as my code of conduct.
The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
I read the book in the summer of 2014, I remember this vividly because I heard about it from an uber driver I was chatting with who was raving about how it has helped him. I picked up a copy the next day, and finished it in one sitting. The advice in the book, while simple, was very hard to apply. Recently, I had a few incidents where I questioned if I am still applying the principles and in writing this post I review some of them.
I think I am very adamant about the first one, and believe it strongly. Words are powerful and it’s important not to use them the wrong way. Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and simply by stating that, we set in motion with our words, incidents that match that frequency of “today is a bad day”.
The second and third agreements are probably the hardest to apply. The second came into play recently in a potential partnership and separately with me personally. I was working on a new project and decided to work with a friend who had complementary skills. We set out to work together and due to different communication styles and work styles I had to sever the relationship. My friend took it very personally and it deeply impacted our friendship, meanwhile I hit pause simply because it affected business goals and timelines. So it was not personal, it was simply business. I think it’s very hard to understand that at work people have timelines, goals, and set milestones and on the opposite side when it’s you that has been asked to leave the table you think it’s due to them not liking you or appreciating you personally when all along it was due to business reasons.
On my end, I had issues with taking things personally when I was introducing a service that I created to a new organization, and the minute I started to feel I was losing the reigns I went on high alert, while in reality the addition only expands and helps strengthen this service. Don’t take things personally, pause, look at the big picture and the big goal. Like I said, very hard to apply.
“Don’t make assumptions” is the other thorny one as we expect life to replay it’s old patterns, but in truth how do we expect change when we stand in the wings assuming the worst just because it happened before? Another way to look at assumptions is when you meet new people, and they do one thing that happens to be a trait of someone in your past who hurt you, and then you are no longer able to see the person standing in front of you. “Oh you like orange juice too”, aha! I knew it, they also like orange juice like person X who ripped me off, this new person definitely displays all the traits, I’m done. This is not only bad because we end up missing out on great people; but because we reinforce and stay in the vicious cycles of our past instead of creating new patterns for a better future.
Always do your best. By far my favorite, and the easiest and most rewarding. Working on your new idea? Do your best. Making chicken for your family? Follow the instructions to the best of your ability. This simple yet powerful principle forces us to be mindful and present, as you can’t do your best well multi tasking. Rewarding because if you do not end up nailing your pitch at the meeting, it’s ok, you know that you did your best and can sleep guilt free knowing that you gave it your best shot.
Originally published at agoraworld.one.