The second of five installments of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and how to apply them in business.
If you aren’t familiar with the Four Agreements, buckle up. Choosing to live by these four simple agreements will change your life for the better, bringing you freedom and satisfaction. Yes, that’s a bold statement and I stand by it. I’ve been a student of them for years and can attest first hand to the transformation that happens when you expand your capacity to live by these agreements.
Here we go!
Agreement #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word.
This is a simple yet difficult agreement to live by. Arguably, this is the most important of the four agreements. No surprise that it’s #1.
Why is it so hard to live by then? As a society, we’ve learned to lie as a habit of our communication with others and more importantly with ourselves. You tell your boss you’ll have that follow up item to her by Friday and next Wednesday rolls around and she still hasn’t heard from you. Or you tell yourself you’ll exercise twice a week, yet it’s been over two weeks since you’ve broken a sweat. You swear off gluten and dairy only to find yourself stopping for ice cream (the good, full dairy variety) on the way home on a hot and sunny day. In a waffle cup, thank you very much.
We justify, explain or flat out ignore that we are out of integrity with our word. Meanwhile, this behavior creates a PowerLeak © within you which has the same effect as a boat having a hole in the bottom of it. It zaps your life force energy leaving you stressed out, exhausted with a scattered mental state.
People Pleasers, need not apply: It’s also hard to live by this agreement because we are taught to people please and to be nice. Some of us are more prone to this than others. Women, in particular, are taught to not hurt other people’s feelings, to be “nice”, or to be quiet if we don’t have anything nice to say.
When I survey my students of Crunchy Conversations, the number one reason why leaders are not giving the direct, clear message that is needed is because ……drumroll please……they don’t want to be mean or hurt the other person’s feelings. Awww….how nice.
The result of wanting to be nice is that you’ve got someone on your team that isn’t performing at their best, who is dragging down the team, who is driving you nuts as you watch your payroll dollars go out the door and not earn any return on your investment. You become resentful and agitated which then closes the door on being approachable and therefore effective. The energy field becomes cluttered which leads to toxicity in the workplace and that’s not nice at all.
Do you know what really hurts people’s feelings? When you don’t respect or trust them enough to deliver the clear message that they need to hear in order to advance in their career or create more satisfaction at work. It hurts to find out that your manager could have helped you be better but they didn’t care enough to be real and honest with you. Ouch! Consider this aspect the next time you are holding back and letting the important message get clouded in “niceties”.
How To Be Impeccable With Your Word
It’s more than just doing what you’ll say you’ll do. Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself. When we are not impeccable with our word, we feel “bad” or “guilty” and we see this manifest through things like exhaustion, frustration, irritation, burnout, illness, depression, numbing out, emotional eating or spending, etc.
Recently, I was having a conversation with a spiritual leader of a women’s spiritual community. She was sharing her current heartache over an event that happened years ago. She’d been carrying this burden around for years! Years of energy spent being heartbroken rather than in joy or wonder or satisfaction.
As we pulled away the layers, we were able to distinguish that her inner people pleaser had her go along with the groupthink at the time instead of speaking her authentic truth, which happened to go against the grain.We marveled at how she might have single-handedly changed the course for an entire spiritual community if she’d had the courage to override her inner people pleaser and be impeccable with her word. It was a huge Ah-Ha moment for her.
So much heartache could have been prevented all from a single act of courage – to speak up in the direction of truth and love rather than holding back in fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
Leading Teams & Creating Healthy Culture
As a leader, you want to develop teams to be self-sufficient and accountable, not ones who rely on you to constantly follow up with them and chase down deliverables.
The more your team is able to be impeccable with their word, the better they will perform.
Your job is to clearly set expectations in terms of how timelines and communication are handled and to uphold them. It’s also your job to model and embody your own expectations.
Being impeccable with your word also means not using your words against yourself. That means no more negative self-talk, putting yourself down or beating yourself up. This is a total game changer!
This includes not using your word against someone else. When you call people names, insult their intelligence or say disparaging things about them, it reflects more about how you feel about yourself than it does about them. Let that sink in for a moment.
Universal law is that like attracts like; when you insult others, you will be insulted in return. If you allow a toxic environment to exist, you will bring in more toxic people. Great people will either leave or become toxic. See my recent blog post about how toxic workplaces are now the 5th leading cause of death in the US. The cycle must stop and it’s leadership’s job to be the one to stop it.
The next time someone misses a timeline or doesn’t do what they said they would do, call them forward in their greatness. Communicate your expectations, get their commitment and hold them accountable in the future.
The next time you hear “joking” or “teasing” in the workplace, speak up about it. It isn’t energy being spent in the direction of truth or love. Reinforce the expectation of a culture that is supportive, kind and productive. Every person in your organization needs to be empowered to do this, regardless of their position or of the position of the other person.
Everyone must be held to the same high standard of excellence in regards to how they behave. It’s everyone’s responsibility to create, cultivate and protect a healthy company culture.
We can use our energy for better things than teasing, sarcasm, finger pointing, blaming, excuses, passive aggressive, violent or other divisive language. We can speak kindly, directly, to the point, firm yet compassionate. And when someone acts out of alignment of our core values, we can kindly reiterate our expectations and hold them accountable for their agreements.
When we do so, the business can function at it’s greatest capacity and generate more money than you ever thought possible. Your people will be healthier, happier, and produce some of their best work. You will enjoy your work more as well as have an enjoyable personal life. Isn’t all that worth trying on this simple agreement for the next 3 months? I think so. If you decide to try it out, let me know how it goes for you!
Greatness Guru Tips: How to be Impeccable with your Word:
Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. Helpful hint: Always give a specific timeline. Write it down. Enable a reminder system to help you to complete on time. Pitfall alert! If you can’t, for whatever reason, be proactive and communicate in advance the changes and new updated timelines.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don’t say one thing and mean another.
Establish boundaries that enable you to do your best work. This includes nutrition, exercise, sleep and connection with other humans.
Don’t abandon your boundaries out of guilt, fear or obligation.
Set clear expectations in the beginning and reiterate them often.
Use your words in the direction of truth and love. Do not criticize yourself or others.
Communicate directly, yet kindly.
Connect through your communication.
For more information on Changing How Business Is Done be sure and grab your free downoadable resources. Interested in learning more about creating the type of culture Aubrey discusses in this blog post? Visit Crunchy Conversations to learn more.