Monday, January 7, 2013

The Four Agreements at Work - Final in a Series

This post is the final in a series of posts pertaining to the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and how it relates in a career context. Click to read the first, second, and third posts.

What is your "best?" We have been told throughout our lives to "do our best" without a real understanding of what that means. Ruiz brings together the previous three agreements into this powerful and evocative fourth agreement.

The fourth agreement: Always do your bestWhen I was working with a personal trainer, he described to me what I should experience while stretching: "it should be uncomfortable, but not painful." This statement reflects the operationalization of the fourth agreement: doing your best should make you uncomfortable, but it should not tax you beyond your limit.

Ruiz writes that your best is different moment to moment. Some days you feel (and you are) unstoppable: you got a good night's sleep, you have made healthy eating and drinking choices, you are physically active and are honoring the other three agreements. Other days, you simply are not: your body isn't well-rested, you have been eating and drinking harmful substances, you have not been active, and you are not honoring the previous three agreements.

The ramifications of your choices are palpable regarding this agreement.  Would you recommend to someone before a big work presentation to go out clubbing the night before? If someone had an important job interview, should they spend their time taking personally all of the negative things said about them? Is it right to lash out in verbal retaliation against a work colleague who has criticized you?

The reason why always do your best is the fourth agreement is because it is a reminder to practice loving mindfulness in what you do and how you act. None of the previous three agreements can be realized without intentional effort towards them. When you are mindful, you keep the ideals and principles of the agreements in mind and focus on achieving them, directing your intentional effort. But, inevitably, you are going to fail. Fail over and over and over again. Fail before you get out of bed in the morning, perhaps. This speaks to the importance of being loving with yourself and others...but especially yourself. When you fail, get back up and continue to try. With patience and persistence, you will notice a change coming about, a change that will eventually permeate itself into your inner being. And as you change, you will begin to experience a change in your career. Calls will be returned, opportunities will open up, and experiences will be presented to you.

The Four Agreements are a powerful means of career transformation. Being impeccable with your word will show that you are trusted, reliable, and impervious to office politics. By not taking anything personally you are committing to loving yourself and taking information in objectively and for the benefit of your career. Through not making assumptions you escape the poison created by assuming negative and dangerous perspectives on neutral events or occurrences. And by always doing your best you recognize your humanity and strive to continue your development regardless of your inevitable failures.

Agree to following the Four Agreements for the benefit of your career...and yourself!

Challenge: commit to one of the four agreements this week, and write about your experience committing to it below.

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