One of the first books about shamanism that I read was “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book challenged me in so many ways. So much so that I found myself enraged at times. It was holding me to a higher standard, and forcing me to take responsibility for what had happened in my life. As I read it, I knew that I needed to stick with it, and that my life would change as a result of incorporating the practices in every area of my life.
For the first several years after reading the book and applying the agreements my personal life changed. I am certain that when you set out to transform your life, every aspect of your life changes, including how you interact in the workplace. At least this is what I found happened for me, but it took a lot of patience and practice.
The Four Agreements are based on the Toltec tradition. Here is a bit about who the Toltecs were. The Toltecs were an ancient Native American (Aztec and Mayan) society that existed around 900 to 1200 AD. They are believed to be great warriors, healers, accomplished artists and sculptors (shaman). It is also believed that they built the pyramids in Teotihuacan, Mexico. The structures are mysterious and very advanced for the era that they were built. It is believed that they went into hiding continuing to teach apprentices so that the teachings could resurface when the time was right. Many believe that the end of the Mayan calendar (which was in 2012) would be the time for the teachings to resurface.
The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
As I made the commitment to myself, I began practicing and noticing what would come up for me. I would evaluate my emotions and thoughts by asking myself where I might not be applying the agreements. As a result, I began to notice there was less conflict in my life, I grew curious to have a deeper understanding of myself and those around me.
I am certain that when you set out to transform your life, every aspect of your life changes, including how you interact in the workplace.
As a leader, I always found it beneficial for my teams to work through books together. One year I selected The Four Agreements, and this book rocked the team at their core. The concepts changed the lives of individuals on the team and how they began to interact with each other. The vulnerability between team members caused the bonds to grow stronger, and the team excelled knowing they were always there to support and trust each other. From that point I made an agreement with myself that I would go through the book with anyone who reported to me, and I did.
I found that going through the agreements with all of my direct reports allowed us to be vulnerable and have deep conversations almost from the get-go. As we got to know each other we developed deeper levels of understanding and began to see how the Four Agreements played out in our day to day functioning.
Over the next few weeks, I will share each of the agreements and how they played out in the workplace.