Over a weekend, I read a book, "The Four Agreements," by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book is having an immediate impact on me, and I highly recommend this game changer. Four agreements I want to ingrain into my mindset and make part of my "new normal" and routine here in Seattle. Here are a few ways I'm applying what I've read.
The first agreement is to Be Impeccable with Your Word. It is important to me to focus on being more consistent and take more ownership of doing what I say. Taking responsibility for the results of my actions and their effects is why I'm looking at accountability I would like to demonstrate. If I'm making decisions based on my values and what's important to me, I am taking responsibility for my actions and the impact that it has on others. Being more willing and accepting of myself to trust that the decisions I've made and are within my values and with my best interests in mind, versus criticizing and judging myself.
When I start to judge myself, I'm noticing that I'm beginning to ask myself questions, like:
Even as I was driving and getting frustrated in my car this last week, I noticed that I slipped into the second agreement, Don’t Take Anything Personally. While recording a voice note, I started naming out loud all the things happening that were bothering me, then saying,
“Cars driving way too slow in the middle of the street, it’s not about me. People crossing in the middle of green lights that I’m driving through; it is not about me. Vans blocking the street are not about me. People abruptly changing from the middle lane, stopping and slowing down my progress is not about me. What is about me? Showing up when I said that I was going to. Bringing my best effort to everything I’m doing. If I say I’m going to have work done, or reach a customer, or do something for someone, that is about me. My word and the responsibility I take and am realizing I need to take is the lesson. I’ve committed to something. That is a reflection of me of my values, and if I start to show up to everything I said I would do, what could my life be like?”
Don’t Make Assumptions is the third agreement and a key for not making up stories in my head that may not be true. Over the last year, I’ve been very mindful of noticing my thought patterns and now am starting to catch myself in the moment and ask, is this true or am I making this up? How easy is it to start making up reasons why something happened or why someone didn’t respond to a call or text, and how easy is it for that upset us? For me, growing up, if a phone call went ignored, it was immediately a personal rejection, and I would run through scenarios that had nothing to do with what was actually going on. In transitioning to this new sales territory, my goal is to, “Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be, and even then, do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation.” Getting as much help and perspective, so I don’t begin to feel like I’m trying to tackle challenges entirely on my own. The fourth agreement ties it all together.
Always Do Your Best is gaining new meaning for me as this book acknowledges that my best can vary from one moment to the next. Whether I’m sick or feeling well, doing something I’m passionate about and full of energy because of or am doing something that I did not want to do, it is up to me to put myself in the room and give my best effort because that is important to me. If I didn’t give my best, I know. Whether in public or only known it in private, I know what the truth is and don’t want to be my own worst critic. I want to be my biggest supporter because regardless of whatever is going to happen in my experience of life going forward, it’s going to be me that needs to show up. To get myself out of bed the morning so I can be where I need to. The excuse doesn’t fall on someone else for the effort I give. I also believe that we are all tied together and my results are affected by the performance of others, so it is up to me to manage my emotions and effort because if you come up short, I am going to do the best I can with where I am. That is all that I can control. I’ve done everything I could. If that’s not acceptable, then it comes back to not taking things personally an understanding that this response is a reflection of values outside my world.
When I spend time with information that gets me this excited, talking about how it’s helping me and sharing the little lessons I’ve picked up feels like the right thing to do. Catching any negative self-talk from in my mind, even if it’s stopping one thought pattern where my thoughts start to turn against me could make a difference. Getting to sit with what it means for how I am going to apply the agreements has been a frustratingly productive experience. More stretching out of my comfort zone. More calling my excuses what they are and not lying to myself. Moving across the country was necessary for my journey and also became an excuse for falling out of routine — no sense of beating myself up over doing my best to get here. I’m here and doing something to get myself up and moving again. Using this feedback loop is one to way to help combat my negative self-talk and encourage seeking a little more clarity in my life. To always do my best, regardless of what it looks like to others. In a year, I want to see how this commitment plays out in the results I see in my life, and I wonder what this could bring for others by sharing. I’d put this in my top 5 most influential books I’ve read in the last three years and over a weekend, you could know why. Let me know what you think of it. Change happens here.
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