Occasionally, as part of my syllabus development and blog creation, I plan on reviewing leadership oriented books, this one leaning toward personal leadership.
The first book is The Four Agreements – by Don Miguel Ruiz.
This was the first book I was asked to read by a leadership coach at Northwestern. This book has remarkable traction in the spiritual and personal development communities. Some religious communities have expressed concern because of Ruiz’ connection with “Toltec Wisdom” and “New Age” bent. However, it is obvious from this, and his other books, that Ruiz has a deep catholic heritage which sets context and depth to the book.
Finally, I love the book because … it reminds me that “it is all about me.” Meaning, most of the junk that hits me in my life is caused by my own doing. I unconsciously manipulate the stories that are fragments of my true life. I make people wrong based on the shadows that plague me. I judge and make assumptions about what people say or do strictly based on my on personal experience. Can you imagine a life where you see what is happening for its truth, and not the story we create or impose upon it.
Here is a summary of the Four Agreements:
Be Impeccable with Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Impeccable means “without sin” and a sin is something you do or believe that goes against yourself. It means not speaking against yourself, to yourself or to others. It means not rejecting yourself. To be impeccable means to take responsibility for yourself, to not participate in “the blame game.” Regarding the word, the rules of “action-reaction” apply. What you put out energetically will return to you. Proper use of the word creates proper use of energy, putting out love and gratitude perpetuates the same. The converse is also true. Impeccability starts at home. Be impeccable with yourself and that will reflect in your life and your relationships with others. This agreement can help change thousands of other agreements, especially ones that create fear instead of love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own issues. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
We take things personally when we agree with what others have said. If we didn’t agree, the things that others say would not affect us emotionally. If we did not care about what others think about us, their words or behavior could not affect us. Even if someone yells at you, gossips about you, harms you or yours, it still is not about you! Their actions and words are based on what they believe in their personal dream. Our personal “Book of Law” and belief system makes us feel safe. When people have beliefs that are different from our own, we get scared, defend ourselves, and impose our point of view on others. If someone gets angry with us it is because our belief system is challenging their belief system and they get scared. They need to defend their point of view. Why become angry, create conflict, and expend energy arguing when you are aware of this?
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.
When we make assumptions it is because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling. We believe we know their point of view, their dream. We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences and have nothing to do with what others think and feel. We make the assumption that everybody judges us, abuses us, victimizes us, and blames us the way we do ourselves. As a result we reject ourselves before others have the chance to reject us. When we think this way, it becomes difficult to be ourselves in the world. Take action and be clear to others about what you want or do not want; do not gossip and make assumptions about things others tell you. Respect other points of view and avoid arguing just to be right. Respect yourself and be honest with yourself. Stop expecting the people around you to know what is in your head.
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.
Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from doing what you like in life and having fun, not from how much you get paid. Enjoy the path traveled and the destination will take care of itself. Living in the moment and releasing the past helps us to do the best we can in the moment. It allows us to be fully alive right now, enjoying what is present, not worrying about the past or the future. Have patience with yourself. Take action. Practice forgiveness. If you do your best always, transformation will happen as a matter of course.