The Four Agreements and How to Use Them in Business

Believe it or not, ancient shamanic wisdom can have a place in the business world. We think of business as being governed by logic and reason, and that is true most of the time. But business also has a spiritual side. The best business people are trustworthy, courageous and open-minded people who work well with others. They keep their promises and don’t make promises they can’t keep.

The spiritually based tenets of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements – one of the most popular self-improvement books of all time – are about exactly how to be one of those people. Ruiz wrote the book after turning to the wisdom of his Mexican family’s ancient Toltec roots when he had a life-changing car accident, which he survived unscathed. Seeking spiritual answers, he studied the ancient shamanic practices of his ancestors, becoming a nagual (shaman) himself. In The Four Agreements, Ruiz shares the Toltec wisdom that we all make agreements with ourselves – to achieve this, to get that done, to be a better friend, parent, or spouse. These agreements are based more on others’ expectations and rules than our own. But by following four agreements that simplify what we expect from ourselves, we can consciously try to live better lives while freeing ourselves from negative thinking.

The ancient Mexican shamanic wisdom that Ruiz studied has the potential to enhance our professional lives through conscious self-empowerment. Here’s how to apply the four agreements to being successful at work.


Be Impeccable With Your Word

This one is simple: tell the truth. Speaking with integrity in business is a sure way to win friends and influence people. Say only what you mean, and you’ll prove to your coworkers, associates, clients, and boss that you can be trusted. People naturally want to work with those they believe they can trust. If you’re impeccable with your word, you’ll be more likely to be included on team projects, earn leadership roles, get promoted, and take on more clients.


Don’t Take Anything Personally

The first rule of business is that it’s not personal. This is true of life as well. Whatever anyone else says or does is a reflection of their own perception of the world, and has nothing to do with you personally. In the book, Ruiz points out that thinking that what others do is because of you reveals our tendency to think the world revolves around us. While we want to succeed in our careers, a “me” mentality will get you nowhere. Responsibilities to stakeholders, expectations from coworkers and bosses, and attentiveness to client needs all come into play. And of course, we must show gratitude to others who have helped us get where we are.


Don’t Make Assumptions

Good business is based on good information. To make an assumption in the workplace can be a grave mistake. When we make assumptions, we’re unable to see things as they really are. We might be subconsciously wishing they were a certain way, or think we don’t have time to find out the real facts. But in business and in life, it’s better to know the real deal than to play a guessing game. Instead of assuming things, Ruiz suggests asking questions to learn about a situation. Questioning brings clarity, which in turn brings better relationships with people and better decision-making.


Always Do Your Best

It seems obvious, but this agreement is key to living a happy life and having a successful career. It’s also essential for holding to the other three agreements. It’s easy to get down on your failures and to judge yourself for not meeting certain standards. But if you’re always doing your best, you can always feel good about what you’re doing, whether or not you achieve a certain goal. Doing your best means being fully engaged in what you’re doing at any moment – being fully alive and present. This is something that Ruiz says we can always achieve.


How to Be In Agreement

When you first start practicing the four agreements, you are likely to break them. That’s normal and to be expected, says Ruiz. The more you practice them, and the more you shun the false agreements you may have set for yourself in the past, the better you’ll be at keeping the four agreements that lead to success. Be persistent in aligning with the four agreements, and they will soon become good habits that govern your life.

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