Greetings again my Friends,
If you haven’t 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 Job

In his book "The Four Agreements", Don Miguel Ruiz distills the essence of Toltec wisdom into four principles for living a life of value:

    1. Be impeccable with your word.
    2. Don’t take anything personally.
    3. Don’t make assumptions..
    4. 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 stronger relationships.

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 each one.

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 of view.

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, and regret.

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 better?”

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 develop strategies.

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. .

Final Thoughts:

My coaching and consulting business continues to grow and I am truly appreciative of all the great referrals I have gotten from the many subscribers to this newsletter. If you know of anyone who would like to subscribe, please forward this newsletter to them. If you know of anyone who would like to try coaching, please let me know. The first two sessions are always on the house.

Coach Jerry


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Jerry Pinney

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. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

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