In 1997, don Miguel Ruiz wrote the best-selling book, The Four Agreements. In this book Ruiz notes that we create agreements in all aspects of our lives, and that the agreements we make with ourselves are among the most important. Ruiz examines four agreements that have the potential to transform our businesses and our lives:
Agreement # 1. Be impeccable with your word. Like many powerful concepts, this simple sounding agreement is profound. It applies to the commitments and promises we make to everyone in our lives, including and especially ourselves. In business this would refer to agreements we make with our customers, prospects, referral sources, employees, contractors, suppliers, and everyone else we interact with.
Being impeccable with our word means that we are careful with what we commit to, and then when we commit we follow through as promised. This especially refers to the agreements we might think of or dismiss as minor or inconsequential. For example, how many times have we told someone we’d follow up later that day, send them an email when we got back to the office, or call them the following day and then did not follow through on our agreement?
Not keeping our word with major commitments has obvious impacts. However, while not keeping our word with small seemingly minor agreements may appear to have little impact, two things occur when we give our word to do something and then do not honor our word. The first is that no matter how small the issue is, we erode the trust of someone we gave our word to and did not follow through on our promise. In business this is not a helpful outcome and certainly works against our reputation, refer-ability, and relationship.
The second, and some would say more important, is that we know that we gave our word and did not honor our own commitment. If we do this often enough we eventually know ourselves as someone who does not honor our own word. And that is not helpful for our self-perception, self- confidence, and overall faith in our ability to honor our word.
Take action tip: Where are you breaking your word to yourself?
STOP IT! Either admit that you are not going to do the thing and get it off of your list, or break it down to the smallest step you can take right now to move it forward. If you need help- I'm here!