Always Do Your Best
The fourth agreement is always do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz states that this is the agreement that allows the previous three “to become deeply ingrained habits.” It comes from the perspective that we should always honor our personal best, which will vary from day to day. Our personal best when we are stressed, sick, or experiencing an upset will be different from when we are refreshed, having high energy levels and motivated. This doesn’t mean that we just become lazy and give ourselves a constant break and slack off. On the contrary, Don Miguel Ruiz posits that as we practice the four agreements, our best actually becomes better, and continues to improve as we continue to practice and become aligned with our own integrity.
There was a time when I had hired a new manager who reported to directly to me. She had been promoted a few times, and with good reason, her work was distinguished. I was excited to work with her and help develop an amazing manager and coach. She was also very excited to rise to the occasion and always did her very best and expected the same from others. Which soon became a problem.
On days when she was challenged with life, she often held it against herself and beat herself up about not doing her best. However, having worked through the 4 Agreements with me, and through my coaching, she was able to recognize that her best was her best for that day, and she needed to honor that. It didn’t have to be permanent, but it was just for that day. Although she was coming to understand this, she still had to work through the judgement she often held against herself.
I also found this to be a challenge as she coached and managed her team’s performance. She knew their job inside and out, as she had done that work before. She remembered what it was like to do her personal best, but the problem was that she expected her personal best from each of her employees instead of their personal best. This was a great opportunity to teach her that leaders not only honor their personal best, but also the personal best of another.
I asked her to remember the time when she felt that her personal best was not good enough. She remembered the conversation very well. I also asked her to consider that an individual’s personal best is just that – their personal best. When we compare ourselves to others, we are setting up a framework that is doomed to fail. We are also disempowring them by trying to control them instead of giving them self control.
This did not mean that we let the individual off of the hook for not meeting KPIs, but it helped shift the new manager’s perspective on how to better evaluate another’s personal best from day to day and by circumstance to circumstance. This also helped with not taking things personally, as she had begun to take the lack of performance personally.
In this scenario, we can see how some of the other agreements surface as the practice of the four agreements deepens. This further proves Ruiz’s point that continuous practice of all of the agreements allows us to continuously improve. Utilizing The Four Agreements in the workplace enriched my leadership style in many ways. They are tools that naturally build emotional intelligence and self awareness, which are essentials for good leaders.
Feel free to contact me if your workplace could use extra tools to build teams and develop and strengthen leaders.