What Agreements Are You Making V2

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What beliefs do you bring to work with you each day and how are those beliefs translating into agreements or contracts that define your behavior?

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What Agreements Are You Making V2

  1. 1. What Agreements are YOU Making? Brought to You By
  2. 2. What Agreements are YOU Making?If you were reading ‘Turning Point’ in 2009, you might remember the time we spent on ‘TheFive Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. Perhaps you remember, be impeccable with your word,don’t make assumptions, don’t take things personally and always do your best? Then I had theopportunity to read ‘The Fifth Agreement’ written by Don Miguel Ruiz and his son Don JoseRuiz. Now we have even more great advice to help us as we decide who and how we want to be.And so to support you as you grow forward I have compiled each ‘Turning Point’ article on eachof these powerful agreements into one place. Looking forward to growing forward with you!Peace,5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 2 of 17
  3. 3. About Margaret MeloniIn her more than 18 years in Corporate America which includedroles in Fortune 500 management, Margaret Meloni observed howindividuals who learned to cope with conflict succeeded andrecognized their full potential, while others became road blocked.Margaret developed a passionate belief that it takes courage and skill tobe human at work and that all individuals have a responsibility totreat each other with dignity, respect and compassion.Motivated by her beliefs and the desire to make a difference in the lives of others, Margaret actedon her vision by founding Meloni Coaching Solutions, Inc.Her vision is to create a group of successful individuals who are at peace with their authenticselves; a group of people who help and support others; a group who bring humanity to the officeand thrive because of it. Margaret sees a world where achieving peace and achieving success gohand-in-hand.Margaret’s students and clients often find that what she really brings them is freedom to bringtheir authentic selves to the office. As a former Information Technology Executive, Margaretalways knew her preference was for the people behind the technology. Now Margaret bringsthose beliefs to individuals from many professional backgrounds. The common thread across herclient base is the desire to experience peace at work and the recognition that peace is not absenceof conflict, peace is the ability to cope with conflict. For these people, Margaret Meloni is truly‘A Path to Peace’. ™You can learn more about Margaret and her courses, programs, and products atMargaretMeloni.Com5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 3 of 17
  4. 4. What Agreements are YOU Making?What is an Agreement? ................................................................................................................... 5Be Impeccable with Your Word ..................................................................................................... 7Its Not Personal .............................................................................................................................. 9Dont Assume a Thing................................................................................................................... 11You are Doing Your Best ............................................................................................................. 13Be Skeptical .................................................................................................................................. 15Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen ................................................................................................... 175318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 4 of 17
  5. 5. What is an Agreement? According to www.merriam-webster.com an agreement is: 1 a: the act or fact of agreeing b: harmony of opinion, action, or character : CONCORD2 a: an arrangement as to a course of action b: COMPACT, TREATY3 a: a contract duly executed and legally binding b: the language or instrument embodying such a contract. For our purposes, lets pick out some words from the above definitions and focus on those words:CharacterCompact or TreatyLegally bindingYou have agreements that you have made with yourself. These agreements come from the beliefsthat you have adopted throughout the course of your life.As children, a few of you rebelled against what you were taught, but most of you accepted theinformation you received from parents, teachers and other adults. This is not all bad. Acceptingthe belief that you should not play in traffic and making an agreement with yourself not to playin traffic is part of why you are alive and reading this article right now! But accepting the beliefthat you will never be as smart as your older sister or that you are the family trouble maker doesnot serve you well at all.The beliefs that you accept become part of your character. If you agree or accept the belief thatyou are the family trouble maker, then you will make causing trouble part of who you are. In asense you have made a treaty with yourself to be that family trouble maker. Now maybe this isnot legally binding, but it is emotionally binding and to your mind this is almost the same thing.You accept or agree that this is who you are and this is how you must behave.Guess what? It does not have to be like this. You do not have to walk through life upholding allof the agreements that you adopted. And isnt that a relief, because you might have a lot of oldagreements that no longer make sense. They are rattling around in your head using your energyand taking up your brain space.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 5 of 17
  6. 6. What Don Miguel Ruiz suggests to all of us in his book The Four Agreements is that we let goof those old useless agreements and adopt four new agreements. Yes it takes a strong will to dothis, but these are agreements that if kept will make your life easier. The four agreements are:Be impeccable with your wordDont take anything personallyDont make assumptionsAlways do your bestIf you accept these new agreements and make them your own, you will find it so much easier tobe true to yourself and to treat yourself and others with compassion.There is an expression that is popular among dog lovers, it captures the essence of what I amtrying to say; Help me to be the person my dog thinks I am. Of course the assumption is thatyour dog sees only the best in you.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 6 of 17
  7. 7. Be Impeccable with Your Word"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Do any of you remember that charming little childhood chant? It was meant to ward off the cruel verbal taunts we received from other children. Sometimes kids can be very harsh with their teasing. Sometimes adults can be very harsh with their words too. And the above childhood chant, well sometimes it may have helped you but most of the time it probably really did not take the sting out of theverbal bullying you might have endured.You see words are a very powerful tool. Expressing our thoughts as words is one of the strongestpowers we possess as human beings. And when you think about what you really own and whatyou really control in life, it all comes back to you. You own your thoughts; you own yourbehaviors and your words express your thoughts. In fact what you say compared to what youactually do is one of the ways in which people form an opinion about the real you. Your wordsversus your actions indicate your character. Think about that person you know, the one whoalways says, "Oh sure I will see you at the barbecue this weekend." But right away you discount what they say because you know they always say they will show up and they never actually do show up. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz suggests to us that the first of the four agreements he shares with us is also the most important agreement. That agreement is be impeccable with your word. Your word has force, it has strength it has power. And it is your responsibility to use your words carefully and to consider the words you choose to accept and believe from others. The words of other people can have power over you aswell. The agreement to be impeccable with your word can be approached from three separate yetequally important parameters:Say what you are going to do and do what you say. Your word defines you. When someonesays, "Oh yes, Victor his word is good, if he tells you he will take care of that issue, you canconsider it resolved." That means that you all know that Victor is good as (or better than) hisword. For some of you this is easy and straightforward. For some of you it is not. You see thisalso means when you mean no, you say no. You dont say maybe or sure or I will see what I cando. It means when you do not know, you say I dont know. And for many reasons many of youfeel compelled to say what you perceive are the right things to say or what you think someoneelse wants to hear as opposed to saying what you really mean. Saying what you mean or say5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 7 of 17
  8. 8. what you are going to do and do what you say is NOT an excuse to say deliberately hurtfulthings to others. Read on to see the second aspect of being impeccable with your word to seewhy this is true.Do not use your words to hurt others, to lash out in anger or to seek revenge.Because your words do carry power, you need to be mindful of what you say to others and aboutothers. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz discusses gossip. Gossip is a powerful andtruly unjust use of words. When you spread rumors and gossip about others for the sake ofentertainment or because you think it makes you look important you are NOT being impeccablewith your word. When you say something nasty to someone because you are in a bad mood orbecause you decided that they needed to be taken down a peg, you are NOT being impeccablewith your word. When you lash out in anger and say something to deliberately hurt someone elseyou are NOT being impeccable with your word.Do not make agreements based on the false or negative words of others. When others use thepower of their words to tell you that you are not smart enough or not good enough or that youcant sing or you are not good looking they are not being impeccable with their words. Guesswhat? If you decide to accept their negative words, then you are making an agreement withyourself that you are not smart enough or good looking or fill in the blank and YOU are NOTbeing impeccable with your word. The power of your word includes the power of how you useyour words either for yourself or against yourself. To be impeccable with your word means thatyou do not accept the poison that comes from others when they use their words improperly. Youhave a responsibility to accept yourself and honor yourself and use your own internal words forgood. You cannot control what others are going to say; you can control how you receive theirwords and what you do with those words once they reach your ears.Do you see the power of your word? Your word possesses the ability to support yourself andothers or to tear each other down. When you agree to speak (or write) the words that reallyrepresent you and to avoid using words to harm others and to reject the harmful words of others,you are being impeccable with your word.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 8 of 17
  9. 9. Its Not Personal Sally looked at Mary Carol and said, "Wow how did you do that? How did you just brush it off, I mean Jim just got in your face and told you that he hates working with you. And you are just as calm and collected as ever." Mary Carol looked at Sally and said, "Well I am really not taking it personally." Sally was flabbergasted. "How can you NOT take that personally?" she asked. Mary Carol shared her beliefs about taking things personally: "Whatother people say and do, is really a reflection of them. The decisions people make about theirown behavior is really about themselves. If I make it about me, it is only because I am beinghuman and focusing on me. We all tend to take things personally because we think thateverything is about us. We like to be the star of our own movies for lack of a better expression.But really it is only about me if I decide to take it on and take ownership for Jims decisions. I amnot doing that.""So if someone says or does something to you that can be construed as negative, you simply let itbe about THEM and not about YOU?" Sally asked."Well technically, everything someone says or does is not about me. So if someone tells me I amfabulous, it is because there is something about me that coincides with something that they see asgood. Of course this is a huge compliment, but it is still not really about me," stated Mary Carol."How did you come up with this?" asked Sally."I read it in The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz," replied Mary Carol.What Mary Carol was sharing with Sally is the second agreement, dont take anythingpersonally. This agreement builds on the first agreement which is be impeccable with your word.Part of being impeccable with your word is to avoid making agreements based upon the words ofothers. When you agree not to take anything personally, you agree that you dont need to acceptthe emotional garbage that other people may try to fling your way. When you dont accept thegarbage that others toss your way, you also dont use your time and energy going on thedefensive or making a big deal out of nothing. You can simply be at peace knowing that othersmust deal with their own beliefs or agreements.It also means that you dont need to wait for their words of encouragement to build yourself up.Of course it is nice to hear that someone has a high opinion of you. But your self worth and yourself definition need to come from within you, not from others. You decide who and what you are.To keep this agreement is to bring yourself tremendous freedom. Freedom from anger andjealousy and fear. The freedom to trust yourself and to stop taking responsibility for the wordsand actions of others. Doesnt that sound wonderful?5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 9 of 17
  10. 10. 5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 10 of 17
  11. 11. Dont Assume a Thing In one of the first classes I taught, I had a student who was always scowling at me. It would have been really hard to miss that scowl. He sat in the front row and it was a small class in asmall room.He was friendly enough when he entered the class room and when he left for the evening. Butinvariably at some point during our class discussions he would scrunch up his face and startscowling at me. I had no idea what I was doing to upset him. I spent a great deal of time thinkingabout it. I cant say that I changed the content of the course I was teaching because of his scowls.I cant say that I radically changed how I delivered the course. But I can tell you that I frequentlyworried about what it was I was doing to upset this man. It definitely chipped away at myconfidence.Silly me, I just ASSUMED because this man was sitting in front of me scowling that it was myproblem. Because it was my problem, it must have been something I was doing wrong as ateacher. Because I was a new teacher it must have been that I was not good enough yet and I didnot know what I was doing. If this was true, well maybe I did not have any business teaching atall.Then one day he told me why he was scowling during class. He shared with me that every timewe discussed a new project management best practice, he became annoyed because none of theproject managers he worked with were following the best practices. Sure he was scowling and hewas annoyed, but NOT AT ME.Look at all the needless trauma I caused myself by making this assumption. This must be whythe third agreement in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is dont make assumptions. Imade these assumptions about why this student was scowling and then I made those assumptionsinto the truth. My truth was not the truth at all! I made it worse by thinking it was personal,violating another agreement - dont take things personally. Boy the crazy squirrels in my headwere really having a field day.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 11 of 17
  12. 12. Dont make assumptions. It sounds simple, but it is not. Most of us make assumptions every day.We make assumptions about the driver of the car in front of us, about the people we live withand about the people we work with. By doing this we cause ourselves all kinds of unnecessarytrauma and drama. We can work on this by finding our voice. I could have found my voice andasked my student if he was in fact upset and what about class was upsetting him. Instead ofassuming what your co-workers are thinking, you could ask them. Instead of assuming that yourpartner is in a bad mood so you better just leave them alone, you could ask them. Instead ofassuming your partner knows what you want, you could just tell them.Assumptions are an illness and communication is the cure.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 12 of 17
  13. 13. You are Doing Your Best If you follow sports you have noticed that top athletes do not always perform consistently. A world class runner may break a world record in one competition and then not even place in the same event one week later. A champion weight lifter might break a record and then be unable to lift that same weight for several workouts.These are professionals, champions, stars - why cant they demonstrate peak performance everytime? Arent they giving it their all each time? Well, they are doing their best.There is nothing wrong. Their best might be different each time they work out or compete. Thesame is true for you. You go into work and you give it your all. Sometimes your all producesdifferent results. You are doing your best. Your best is different every day. At any given timeyou can only do your best. Your best varies and is dependent on many criteria including:Your physical conditionYour mental conditionYour environment(Hint: This is why in past articles we have discussed the importance of your physical condition,your mental condition and your environment.) To be able to do your best you must supportyourself in the best possible way, good sleep, good nourishment, good surroundings and apositive mental outlook.On any given day you can only do your best and your best is different from day to day. At theend of the day, if you know you really did your best, you shouldnt worry. But saying, "Well hey,I did my best" is not meant to be used as an excuse. YOU know when you did your best; youknow when you did not.Your best looks like this:You jumped into a task enthusiastically with every intention of doing a great job.You lost yourself in whatever you were doing.You truly cared about the outcome.Your best does not look like this:5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 13 of 17
  14. 14. You worked on something with a feeling of dread.You spend your work week wishing for the weekend - every week!You did something for someone out of a sense of obligation and not out of a sense of giving.Truly doing your best allows you to make the other agreements part of your life. What otheragreements? The agreements from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Not many of uscan just wake up one morning and do a perfect job being impeccable with our words, not takingthings personally and not making assumptions.Luckily you have the agreement, always do your best to help you. When you know you reallydid your best you can just skip the part of your day when you beat yourself up because you arenot perfect. You are going to have an off day.What if your boss is crabby during a meeting and for some reason today you decide thatcrabbiness is all about you? Well, if today you are doing your best and you still take itpersonally, guess what? Let it go. Today you did your best. So relax and move on. Put allthoughts of failure and judgment aside. You did your best. Tomorrow you will do your bestagain.Thats all anyone can ask of you and thats all you should ask of yourself.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 14 of 17
  15. 15. Be SkepticalBe skeptical but learn to listen. This seems like an interesting agreement to use in navigatingtoday’s world. By agreement I mean a treaty or contract that you have made with yourself. Ican’t take credit for this idea; it comes from ‘The Fifth Agreement’ by Don Miguel Ruiz and hisson Don Jose Ruiz. Whether you acknowledge it or not you use agreements in each aspect ofyour life – personal and professional. You believe that you cannot write or that you cannothandle stress. These are agreements and based on them you make decisions.Right now let’s focus on how being skeptical can help you. If you have ever been involved inany kind of testing or auditing you know the value of healthy skepticism. You know what theproduct or process you are reviewing is supposed to do and a good test will reveal the truth. Thatis what you are looking for, the truth. And in using be skeptical but learn to listen, you arelooking for the truth. The truth about yourself.At work and at home you have been told many stories. Some of these stories are the truth andsome of these stories are not. Some you have accepted and some you have rejected. There isnothing wrong with that; if you have tested those stories. Let’s take a look at one possible story.You believe that you are inflexible. You have been told that because you like to make plans inadvance and you like to be prepared that you are inflexible. Maybe you even buy into thisbecause you are a project manager and many associate project management with rigidmethodology. And sure, you expect your team to meet the agreed upon schedule. So there it isyou have agreed that you are inflexible. Now when you work with a team member to meet adeadline you might even find yourself saying something like, “I hate to be inflexible, but wecommitted to having this to our customer by Friday and I need you to honor that commitment.”Have you tested this agreement? Have you applied healthy skepticism to it? This means youneed to doubt the words of others. Guess what? You need to doubt your own words and thoughtstoo. Why is that you have allowed yourself to believe you are inflexible? Have you reallythought about whom you are and how you behave? Is it true that when things change youabsolutely refuse to change too? Is it true that you make everyone do things your way? Maybe.Maybe not.In the course of your work, did you ever have to update the schedule because of resourceconstraints or to meet a customer’s required due date? In the course of your work did you everhave to negotiate with a team member as to when they would work on your project vs. the otherwork piled up on their desks? Have you had to change the budget because funding requirements5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 15 of 17
  16. 16. changed? Have you ever had your assignment change mid project? You had another projectadded to your portfolio to manage or you and another project manager changed places?You are inflexible – really? The actions you took in the paragraph above do not seem to describesomeone who is inflexible. Why did you accept being told “You are inflexible”? Why didn’t youtest that with some healthy skepticism? Sometimes accepting is easier than testing. If the personor persons who labeled you inflexible where authoritative or in some way credible, you justaccepted. Be honest, is being perceived as inflexible making your job easier? If the peoplearound you are afraid to suggest changes then in theory you have at least one less thing to dealwith. But if you are not inflexible you are not telling the truth to yourself or others and you arenot allowing yourself to live truthfully. Because you have listened to and accepted a lie withoutapplying skepticism you are blocking yourself from your real potential.This is why the entire description of the agreement is be skeptical but learn to listen. And in parttwo of this discussion we will cover learning to listen.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 16 of 17
  17. 17. Be Skeptical but Learn to ListenAt work and at home you have been told many stories. Some of these stories are the truth andsome of these stories are not. Some you have accepted and some you have rejected. There isnothing wrong with that; if you have tested those stories. That is why be skeptical but learn tolisten is the fifth agreement shared with us by Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Jose Ruiz in their bookaptly named, ‘The Fifth Agreement’.Just because somebody says something to you or about you does not make it true. Just becausesomeone assigns you a label, ‘good girl’, ‘troublemaker’, ‘the successful one’; does not makethat label the truth. Even the labels you assign to yourself are not necessarily true.Great, then how are you supposed to know the truth behind all of the words? Well part of thehow is using doubt, being skeptical. The other part is using doubt and listening together. Itworks like this; first listen to what people are saying to you. Then use doubt to go beyond thewords. That means, don’t take the words at face value, it does not mean tell your friends, familyand co-workers that you think they are liars. Listen carefully to what is being said and how it isbeing said. What story is really being told? Everyone has a story, that story is real to them. Itmay not be real to you and it may not describe the real you. Let’s look at an example.You have a team member who tells you that you are inflexible. You could believe them andassume the label of inflexible. You could use skepticism and doubt them and decide that they arewrong and that you are not inflexible. Or you could pay attention, listen to them without judgingand then decide, are you inflexible? What is their story? Is it the story of a team member whowants you to change a deadline because they are running late? Is it the story of someone who hasbeen told that they are inflexible and for some reason they think you are alike? Maybe it is thestory of someone who truly cares about you and thinks they see inflexibility in you and they areconcerned.Only you can listen carefully to every message you receive and use skepticism to decide if whatyou hear is really the truth. Listen without judgment, just listen and work to objectivelyunderstand that each person is simply telling you their part of a story. You decide what to dowith the story; truthfully you don’t have to do anything at all. Sometimes all you need to do islisten and let it go. You don’t have to build a story based on something that seems false; youdon’t have to build a story at all.5318 East Second Street #413 | Long Beach CA 90803 | Phone (866) 639-0487 | Fax (562) 439-0854 | info@MargaretMeloni.comPage 17 of 17

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