Greetings again my Friends,
If you havent read
The Four Agreements at Work: An Inside Job, it should
be on your reading list for this year. There is a
lot of ?good stuff? in this book.
The Four Agreements at Work: An Inside
In his book "The Four Agreements", Don Miguel Ruiz distills
the essence of Toltec wisdom into four principles for living
a life of value:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions..
- Always do your best.
How elegantly simple and, as some might say, a “no brainer!”
But simple wisdom isn’t common practice. While most of us
believe we are impeccable with our word, we know others
who are not. And most likely, others, from time to time,
consider us far less than impeccable.
The Four Agreements are deceptively simple, yet difficult
to apply. With practice, they’re extremely effective, providing
a way to experience inner peace and happiness, while creating
Each agreement is self-directed. It’s not about what you
can do to change someone’s behavior. Rather, the guides
teach us how to respond appropriately to others’ difficult
behaviors and maintain smoother work relationships.
So, how do you apply these principles at work? Let’s examine
1. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity.
Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against
yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your
word in the direction of truth and love.
Words are powerful, and your speech establishes (or undermines)
your credibility and trustworthiness. With language, you
express your creativity, knowledge and values.
Unfortunately, we often speak too quickly, without thought.
Speaking comes so easily and effortlessly that we fall into
the trap of using clichés and automatic phrases that often
don’t do justice to our ideas.
This first agreement means much more than not lying, cheating
or stealing. It requires you to make honest, positive statements
that reflect who you really are, letting go of the “fake”
persona that may occasionally creep into your communication.
Just as your word can form solid relationships, it also
has the potential to destroy them. When we abuse the power
of words—spreading verbal poison as we express anger, jealousy,
envy or hate—our gossip pulls others down, creating a climate
of fear and doubt.
Remember: Your opinion is nothing but your point of view—and
not necessarily true. It reflects your beliefs and ego.
We spread gossip and opinions so we can defend our point
Ironically, spewing destructive words can also hurt someone
closer to home: you. How often do you speak against yourself,
even in a semi-humorous, self-deprecating manner?
Self-judgment is one of the worst transgressions when we
examine the first agreement. You cannot practice tolerance
and patience for others if you’re self-critical. Having
high personal standards means developing a nonjudgmental
attitude that chalks up mistakes to learning experiences.
Take responsibility for your actions, but avoid self-blame.
2. Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others
do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection
of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune
to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the
victim of needless suffering.
Each of us lives in our own world, in our own mind, set
off from the larger worldview. When we take something personally,
we assume others know what’s in our world—and we then try
to impose our world on theirs.
Even when a situation is personal, insulting you directly,
it has nothing to do with you. What someone says or does
is merely his opinion. If you buy into this opinion, you
eat his emotional garbage, which then becomes your garbage.
Refuse to take it personally, and you’re free to act in
accordance with your values—not his.
Similarly, your opinions of yourself are not necessarily
true, so don’t take them personally. The payoff will be
greater freedom and renewed energy.
3. Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask
questions and to express what you really want. Communicate
with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings,
sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can
completely transform your life.
We make assumptions about everything, believe them to be
true and then act upon them. A better solution is to ask
for more information so you can clarify what others mean
and ultimately want.
We often assume the worst, creating a “reality” that erroneously
becomes the gospel truth. We may know better, but it’s hard
to consciously catch yourself making assumptions. You do,
however, have a choice: Clarify and question.
It may feel risky to admit you don’t know something with
100% certainty, fearing you’ll appear dumb. You may try
to avoid conversations in which you must reveal your assumptions,
leading others to perceive you as less than brilliant. Consequently,
you miss opportunities to strengthen relationships.
4. Always do your best. Your best is going to change
from moment to moment; it will be different when you are
healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply
do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse,
When we put forth our best efforts, our colleagues know
they can rely on us. We appear fully engaged in our tasks
and passionate about our work. Doing your best also brings
out the best in others.
Become more mindful. The next time you begin to gossip,
assume something or fail to clarify, stop yourself. If you
sense you’re taking something personally, back up and think
before you speak. Ask yourself, “How can I make this situation
It may be difficult to learn and apply the four principles
simultaneously. But conscious attention to them will help
you learn alternative ways to react to difficult people
and situations. Your coach can help you set priorties and
You’ll be amazed at the number of workplace opportunities
to avoid gossip, personal assumptions and performing at
less than optimal levels. When you practice the Four Agreements,
you’ll feel invigorated, exhibit innovative thinking and
enjoy stronger relationships.
Instead of trying to change another person, make an impact
on someone you can really change: yourself. .
My coaching and consulting business continues to grow and
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
Pinney & Associates
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