“The big difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses and the warrior refrains.”
-Don Miguel Ruiz
It was nearly eight years ago when I stumbled upon a book that would change my life forever. It was so compelling I read it from cover-to-cover in one day.
It’s called “The Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Since adopting the agreements in my life, I found exponential growth personally and professionally.
What intrigued me the most was the simplicity of the agreements. And when combined with one another, their power commands only the best version of yourself.
If you’re anything like me, you want the best in life. You want to unlock your potential and live a life remembered. You want to make a difference in the world around you, no matter how big or small.
Well, the purpose of this article is to shed light on these simple agreements to help you in your journey, so let’s review them one-by-one.
1. The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word
Choosing your words wisely is character excellence. It can be challenging, I’ll admit, especially when your fuse runs out. However, it becomes worth the effort in the end when you dig deep and uphold this agreement.
There’s a story called the “Nails in the fence,” which illustrates the importance of this agreement.
In short, a father instructs his son to hammer a nail through the fence every time the boy loses his temper and verbalizes hateful words. After time, the boy controls his temper, and his father reverses instructions.
Now, the boy must remove a nail each day his temper is controlled. And when the final nail is removed, the lesson begins.
His father explains that despite the nails being removed, the holes remain.
What’s the point?
Well, it goes without saying, but you can’t reverse your words. There are no “takebacks,” and oftentimes apologies don’t cut it. So spouting off at the mouth with anger or malice can derail any progress you’ve made in your life.
When you’re not impeccable with your words, you can spoil opportunities, have mediocre relationships, or worse, push people away.
Speak with intention at all times and give yourself time to digest information that comes your way before responding.
Finally, be true to yourself at all times. Even in the face of adversity or pressure you may get from anyone.
It’s worth it in the end.
2. The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
For me, this was the source of major problems in my life. With my vivid imagination, I would craft elaborate stories.
Those who have creative bones in their bodies pay particularly close attention to this one.
When interactions happen between yourself and someone else, it’s important to refrain from thinking things instantly center around you. It would be something if your importance was that great – no offense, but typically it’s not.
Now, I’m not saying you’re not special, or that you’re worthless, no, it’s just most people are speaking or acting in a way that’s simply a reflection of what’s inside (them).
So ultimately, things are not as personal as you think, nor should you take them as such.
As you navigate through the day, don’t fall into thinking everything is about you. Keep in mind what people say and do are typically reflections from what’s inside.
Don’t let yourself get wound up!
3. The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
Back to those who have a vivid imagination.
You will likely tell yourself some elaborate story if something doesn’t go your way. And not that I haven’t been there before.
Such stories tend to parallel soap operas with so many plot twists they leave you in a dizzy spell.
Have you ever done this before?
Perhaps someone doesn’t call you as expected, and suddenly they’re planning your demise with your enemies in a local Starbucks?
Or they’re off gallivanting around town and completely forgot about you?
Then all the sudden you hear from them and realize they had a perfectly logical reason for not being in touch.
Goodness did you ever spiral or what?
For these types of instances, it’s imperative to deal with facts and facts only. Reject stories you tell yourself. Push them out as fast as they attempt to form.
You want to avoid assumptions as they cause rash thinking and decision-making.
Remember this, if you don’t have proof, you don’t have a reason (most often). Think of it as a court of law, “It’s not what you know but what you can prove.”
Try this today…
Keep a written log of all the stories you tell yourself today. I’ll guess you’re somewhere in the range of 10-15 stories (assumption) by the end of the day.
Everything from your boss is out to get you, coworkers dislike you, partner or spouse is mad at you, driver meant to cut you off personally, and so on and so on.
What I can promise you is complete peace of mind all day, every day, if you can manage these stories.
You do want peace of mind right?
4. The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best
As they say in sports, “Leave it on the field.” And they mean all of it, every single ounce.
Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, give it your best. You should be exhausted at the end of the day without reliving what happened and wishing you did something differently.
Especially as it pertains to work, please understand something. When you give less at work, you are ultimately teaching yourself that it’s okay to be mediocre.
Perhaps you can justify such behavior because your salary isn’t on par with your perceived value, or because the job is a means to an end, in any case, this behavior will manifest itself in other areas of your life.
Suddenly, in your personal life, you begin giving less. Less towards your partner or spouse, less towards your friends, or less towards the hobby you hope to replace your full-time job one day.
The kicker is you won’t even recognize this behavioral problem at first. The majority of people never do, but it’s happening, trust me!
As you operate in any facet of your life, give everything you’ve got. And I do mean everything.
Practice this agreement, even for just one full week, and see how your life will change.
Is it hard?
Is it worth the effort?
You better believe it!
When I say my life changed for the better after reading this book and adopting these agreements, boy did it ever.
Somehow the black cloud that followed me around was gone, and blue birds were chirping when I stepped outside.
Okay, not exactly with the blue birds, but that’s how I felt.
What I realized was I formed stronger relationships, unearthed more opportunities, and became more positive and enthusiastic about life in general.
Why not give them a shot?
Write them down and review them daily so you prime yourself to follow them consistently. Then watch and see how things begin to unfold.
Do you know someone who is struggling with life right now? Send this their way, suggest they try these agreements out, and see what happens next…
Ready, set, go!