Four Agreements

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Four Agreements

Toward the end of last year I tweeted about stumbling back upon Don Miguel Angel Ruiz’s Four Agreements, thanks to a reminder from a participant in the Hanley Center Health Leadership Development initiative.  They were invoked as being key to keeping people grounded when their collaborative skillsets were being pushed to the limit by challenging circumstances.  In thinking about these agreements more deeply over the winter break, they struck me as powerful and appropriate intentions to set for the new year, especially in our social change and sustainability work.  Here they are with my own editorializing:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word – Say “yes” when I mean yes, “no” when I mean no, and “I don’t know” when I don’t!  Make commitments I mean to keep, and be clear when it is just too much, and when I need help (more often than I think or admit?).
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally – Someone once said, “They don’t push your buttons, you do.”   While it is a lot to aspire to, how powerful it would be to be able to clearly and consistently separate the projected intent of others’ action from their felt impact.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions – At IISC we like to say this is all about “coming down our ladder of inference.”  We are always blind to the whole story, the admission of which can be an uncomfortable feeling, but which can also spare us the grief we inflict on others and ourselves by jumping to conclusions that are not on the mark.
  4. Always Do Your Best – Here I have to be careful.  By doing my best, I do not mean to do it all by myself or work harder at the expense of working smarter.  My wife has said about her work as a psychotherapist that once she felt like she is working harder than her clients, she is no longer being of service.  So yes, do my best, but not at the expense of bringing out the best in others.

How about you?  Your intentions or agreements for 2011?

No Comments

  • Jen willsea says:

    Yes!! I love the four agreements.

  • Bob Dixon says:

    As someone who has lived for five decades I offer the following brief commentary.

    Be impeccable with your word: with your word you have the power to create heaven or hell on this earth for yourself and those around you, consider and use your words with this in mind.

    Don’t take anything personally: Nothing anyone else does, says, or thinks has anything to do with you it’s all about them and it doesn’t matter to your story.

    Don’t make assumptions: Just don’t do it and you save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief.

    Always do your best: Do your best where you are at that moment and not what you think you should do.

    Their is much wisdom in the four agreements but to understand requires a prepared and seeking mind and heart otherwise it just meaningless words on a page.

  • Curtis Ogden says:

    Thanks, Bob, for your comments. I especially like your additions around not doing what we think we “should” do.

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