The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz gathers four “agreements” to live by to ensure a better lifestyle, a deeper understanding of life, a life in the moment.

What is an agreement?

The four agreements come from the Toltec teachings of wisdom. The goal of this book is to make each agreement a habit.

An agreement is:

  • a programming of the mind.
  • a language, a code that helps us understand each other.
  • a belief system that has domesticated us.

It represents the rules that we abide to, that we pass down from generation to generation.

unfortunately, we have not chosen the agreements that we have concluded. Most of the time, they have been chosen for us and existed longer than we have.

The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz

The First Agreement

The first agreement is to be “impeccable with your words“. This means that you must be careful of not using words against yourself and others.

Indeed, there is power in the words that you use. Matter of fact, it is the most powerful tool at your disposition. 

You can use your words to create beauty or to wreak havoc.

“What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word”.

Purpose of the agreement

Being “impeccable with your words” helps you suppress any toxicity from your mind, free your mind from fear and doubt, and filter out negativity.

Implementing the agreement

Furthermore, words grow and take root in your mind if we are not careful. So:

  • Be true to yourself.
  • Be careful of the words that you use on yourself.
  • Do not speak against yourself.
  • Avoid gossiping and don’t believe gossip.
  • Accept and love yourself so you can demonstrate love and acceptance toward others.

The Second Agreement

The second agreement is to not “take anything personally”.

Often times, people are preoccupied with their own beliefs, feelings and opinions about themselves that they take out on others.

Even if they insult you directly, it is wise not to take their insult personally.

Purpose of the agreement

This agreement is necessary to avoid burdening yourself with people’s problem, setting “yourself up to suffer for nothing”.

Acquiring this habit will help you free yourself, keep your heart open, see people for who they really are, and be unaffected by fear.

Implementing the agreement

Understand that:

  • All opinions about you are not necessarily true.
  • Opinions about you depends on the person and on their moods.
  • We can choose what to believe and what to agree with.
  • You must trust yourself and don’t need to trust anyone else.

The Third Agreement

The third agreement consists in not making assumptions.

Undeniably, assumptions are not the truth and breeds problems.

Purpose of the agreement

The third agreement will help you build better relationships and increase your communication skills.

Implementing the agreement

To properly implement this agreement:

  • Ask for clarifications rather than making assumptions.
  • Remember that it is OK to ask questions.
  • Collect the right data about people and situations first.
  • Don’t assume that people can read your mind.
  • Ask for what you want, expect yes or no. Understand that you can say yes or no as well.

The Fourth Agreement

This fourth agreement encourages you to always “do you best“. It consolidates all previous three agreements.

Purpose of the agreement

Forming the habit of always doing your best will:

  • Save you from harsh self-judgement.
  • Increase your production.
  • Mature your self-love

Implementing the agreement

Keep in mind that:

  • Your best will fluctuate all the time. It will depend on your mood, on your energy level, on your health and on your situation.
  • you must take action without expecting any rewards. This way, you will be able to enjoy your actions better.

Review

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz provides a very powerful perspective on life. It encourages self-transformation, self-awareness, self acceptance, and the understanding of others.

I found out briefly that The Four Agreements, yet short, is thoughtful and goes straight to the point. It calls out society’s hypocrisy, fear and domestication.

Everyone I know who have read this book has felt elevated. It was therefore hard to resist reading it and I have to say that I did not regret it.

As you read, you will find that you already had the knowledge and the wisdom within you but have been holding it back. You will learn to trust yourself and set yourself free.

Favorite quote(s)

The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.

Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally.

Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.

All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.

Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are.

Ratings 4.5/5

Author

Don Miguel Ruiz

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Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

In Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek believes that every single employee is capable of becoming a leader, of being remarkable, of exercising courage and sacrifice, of investing into the company, and of finding fulfillment at work.

Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek

The General Role Of The Leader

In addition, Simon Sinek considers humans as hunters, organizations as tribes and leaders as those who put order within the tribe.

In modern days, leaders are perceived as dominant, are the ones that eat first, are the ones who make the most money, who get preferential treatment and most importantly are those who are supposed to protect. Indeed, they have more resources at their disposal and have to use it appropriately to ensure the survival of their tribe.

However, for long-lasting results, to gain the loyalty and respect of their employees, they must not consider their well-being above the well-being of the tribe. They must eat last.

It is the role of leaders of an organization to be courageous, to demonstrate empathy, to lay down the foundation for success, to show employees appreciation and to allow them to take appropriate risks.

The Circle Of Safety

The Circle Of Safety contains all the people of an organization. It is a safe space where employees feel fulfilled at work, don’t dread Monday morning, are willing to advance the company’s purpose.

It is an environment of increased commitment, fulfillment, gratitude and happiness, where employees are more relaxed, thrive, collaborate and work for each other.

In the Circle Of Safety, leaders and employees share the same values, pull their respective loads and are committed to the Circle.

Everyone feels valued by their peers, they know that their colleagues have their backs, they believe that they belong to something greater than themselves, that they can safely drive innovation, share ideas and express themselves freely.

By the same token, employees and leaders must independently weigh their decisions and ponder whether or not their decisions are beneficial to the group. It is wise to remember that working toward individualistic goals will hurt the group.

Leaders In The Circle Of Safety

Besides, leaders are the gatekeepers of the Circle. They set the standards, they decide who gets in and who stays at the door.

To create safety, leaders have to meet certain conditions and build a soothing company culture. Company culture in modern days is unnatural because they go against all natural needs, instincts, rights for safety and fulfillment.

If leaders want to create a Circle Of Safety, to establish an innovative, stable, robust, lasting, successful company, they must:

  • Understand that employees are not a means to an end and shouldn’t be exploited.
  • Increase employee cohesion and inclusion. They must no longer fear each other but must be willing to fight external challenges together. Moreover, there is power in numbers: when challenges arise, employees in the Circle Of Safety must put all their differences aside to reach a common goal.
  • Avoid placing money above people but place people above everything else.
  • Remember that they are the models for the organization. Therefore, they must define a clear set of values and beliefs for themselves and for their employees.
  • Inject empathy into the workplace culture and treat everyone fairly. This will make both employees and leaders more human, and make work more enjoyable.
  • Extend trust to earn trust. Trust also lies in the fact that leaders know when to follow the rules and when to break them in order to guarantee the safety of their employees.
  • Help people solve problems. They will in turn, help each other.
  • Listen to their employees.
  • Protect their employees internal conflicts and promote collaboration.

 

The Feasibility Of The Circle Of Safety

Making people feel safe, putting their well-being first is idealistic but impractical.

On one hand, people work out of necessity, are willing to stay in a job that they hate to provide for themselves and for their loved ones. They don’t want to selflessly commit to and invest themselves into the company. They are reluctant to put forth the time and effort because they are not in control and  might not receive the proper rewards.

On the other hand, it is quasi difficult to find organizations that genuinely care for their employees safety and well-being. Most of them tend to care more about reaching numbers and are willing to sacrifice people to get there.

The truth is most companies and leaders display poor character and induce a stressful and fearful culture. Employee disengagement, high employee turnover and health problems ensue.

Abundance and Abstraction

Finally, when leaders have everything in abundance, which is often the case today, they lose the real value of things.

As a consequence, the more their companies grow, the more they are out of touch with their employees and their consumers, the less they empathize with them. To solve this abstraction, leaders should:

  • Get to know their employees personally. Investing time and energy in them will transpire as appreciation.
  • Continually spread ideas, find people, connect with them, build real human relationships and bring them together.
  • Expand their company to 150 employees at most in order to remember everyone and to keep strong relationships.
  • Observe the real impact and results of their time and effort, alongside their employees’. This will consequently increase everybody’s quality of work.
  • Give people the time needed to trust, to find their way and place with the Circle Of Safety.

The Influence Of The Company Culture

The culture severely impacts the survival of the company. When there are no values, no principles, no particular beliefs, when the culture is based on numbers, reports and performance, the company is doomed to fail.

Moreover, leaders with poor character fabricate a bad culture that in turn breeds bad leaders. This is why, leaders are required to:

  • Rely on integrity and trust, spend time with the people they serve and shift their focus to the latter.
  • Find someone to lean on and to help them through hardships.
  • Discover their life purpose.
  • Work hard for what they have in order to value it.
  • Hold on to their responsibilities.

Review

Simon Sinek, in Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, provides an innovative leadership strategy to build a successful organization, to increase employee engagement and fulfillment.

After Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Leaders Eat Last is intended for millennials and promotes leadership excellence. To develop a successful organization, Simon Sinek encourages us to discover the reasons why we do what we do, to understand people and their needs, to go beyond having good competencies and good managerial skills.

In this great book, Sinek places people at the forefront of the company and demonstrates that building a company from the ground up takes on a whole new sense. He believes that leaders have to take care of the well-being of their employees first and their employees will take care of the rest.

Besides, he doesn’t claim to be an idealist, to believe that all workers love their jobs and that all leaders treat their employees well. He understands that most people work out of necessity.

Lastly, he analyzes our biological needs and transposes them to the modern working world. Our natural needs are powerful forces that we cannot control.

Favorite quote(s)

In our modern world, advancing our careers and trying to find happiness and fulfillment are the definition of success. But the systems inside us that guide our behavior and decisions still function as they did tens of thousands of years ago. Our primitive minds still perceive the world around us in terms of threats to our well-being or opportunities to find safety.

Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own . . . in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.

This feeling of belonging, of shared values and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation and problem solving.

Quite often, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for the other. Working exclusively to advance ourselves may hurt the group, while working exclusively to advance the group may come at a cost to us as individuals.

Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.

Ratings 3.75/5

Author

Simon Sinek

 

The Importance Of Trust In Leadership

The consequences of distrust are significant. It increases employees turnover and employees don’t volunteer ideas like they should, question every single move  of the leader, undermine his or her decisions.

Nobody wants to go to work where they constantly have to look behind their shoulder, where they cannot share knowledge freely, where they cannot speak up in meetings, where they have to watch their every single word.

We end up losing confidence in yourself, not wanting to contribute at work, preserving ourselves, acting against our core values, lacking energy, refusing to invest in people, felling alone and always on the look out.

Wondering how to build or repair trust in leadership and in the workplace?

Trust In Leadership

What is trust?

Trust is an emotional bond, a connection between two people who is developed through repeated interactions and that provides comfort and stability. It is the foundation of all relationships and according to Patrick Lencioni, in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team it is  the most important factor in team cohesion.

Furthermore, trust is reciprocal, subjective, takes time to build but can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. It is not granted by a title nor by a position but is necessary to work and to share knowledge. Trust is empowering, improves overall employees motivation, productivity, wellbeing in the workplace and corporate culture.

Trust is detrimental to leadership because leaders have the power to make decisions that can impact their team and their livelihood.

Detecting and understanding untrustworthy leaders

Trustworthy leaders drive success, put employees at ease, have their employees best interest at heart. Trustworthy leaders care about their own contributions, about the impact of their decision, about their people and regularly show appreciation. They are fair and respectful, are credible and communicate openly.

Nevertheless, some leaders exhibit negative behaviors that make them seem untrustworthy. Because, trust is subjective and because followers model these behavior, it is compulsory that leaders identify what they are doing wrong and immediately correct themselves.

Below are different scenarios where leaders are perceived to be untrustworthy and the respective explanation to their behavior.

Scenario #1

Some leaders are naturally reserved and secretive. Unfortunately, they come off as being snobs, defensive, or as having a personal agenda. People generally think the worst when they don’t know what their leader is thinking.

Scenario #2

Some leaders are introverts and minimize social interactions. To their team, they are perceived to either be standoffish, weirdos. This can open the door to a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts.

Scenario #3

Some leaders speak very little because they either believe that the topic doesn’t deserve much conversation, don’t enjoy speaking, don’t feel the need to explain themselves or they are unable to put their thoughts into words.

Scenario #4

Some leaders adapt their response to their audience and come off as being disingenuous. For example, they would talk frankly in front of their team and sugarcoat things in front of the hierarchy.

Scenario #5

Some leaders are self-serving and don’t care about their employees. They don’t demonstrate respect for their team and can easily step over them.

Scenario #6

Some leaders are arrogant. They feel superior to others all while being insecure, they lack humility and self-awareness, they are unwilling to learn and to grow.

Scenario #7

Some leaders blatantly lie. In some toxic companies, lying is seen as a strength. But this strength is short-termed and create distrust amongst employees.

Scenario #8

Some leaders gossip about their own employees and their own organization. Because most employees are attempting to preserve their jobs, employees tend to fake their true feelings. However, leaders have difficulties noticing the impact of their negative behavior.

Scenario #9

Some leaders are able to shift blame too easily and don’t take responsibility for their action. This leader is afraid of confronting themselves. This makes employees unwilling to take risks and to involve themselves in their job.

Scenario #10

Some leaders play favorites, treat their employees unfairly, take credit for their work, disrespect them, isolate and scapegoat some employees and sabotage others.

Scenario #11

Some leaders underperform or don’t come through on promises. People tend to dismiss those who overpromise and underperform, even if they are talented or competent.

Scenario #12

Some leaders overreact to challenges and under high pressured situations, they give in too easily to their emotions.

How to build trust and maintain it in the workplace?

Placing trust in someone makes us vulnerable to that person who can use this vulnerability to their advantage. However, to create a healthy workplace, it is necessary for leaders to build trust within their team. To do so, you will have to:

  1. Trust yourself in order to make yourself feel confident, competent, to help yourself grow your relationships, to take risks and to face challenges.
  2. Develop your character and learnt to do what is right.
  3. Learn new skills and teach them to others.
  4. Create a safe workplace. Help others express themselves, their ideas, and vent their frustrations. Help employees achieve their goals. Give your employees room to grow their skills and self-esteem by offering them training and coaching.
  5. Appreciate people‘s capabilities and employ them for their strengths.
  6. Give trust to receive trust. However, beware of people who will take advantage of your eagerness to trust. Learn how to detect these toxic individuals and protect yourself from them.
  7. Actively listen to your team without speaking or emitting judgements.
  8. Be open and honest with important company information. Don’t shy away from the truth.
  9. Positively present your thoughts and ideas to your team.
  10. Involve your team in the decision-making process.
  11. Don’t allow communication to break down and don’t withhold any information from your team. misunderstandings are easily created and can decrease trust.
  12. Clarify your employees assignments, roles and measure their progress. For example, give your employees the necessary authority to accomplish their assignments and trust their decisions.
  13. Avoid gossiping like the plague. It may seem fun and you might enjoy the camaraderie but it is unprofessional and unethical. Respect what people have told you in confidence.
  14. Adopt consistent behaviors and expectations on a daily basis. Employees tend to trust leaders who are predictable, who represent the company’s values and missions.
  15. Admit mistakes, acknowledge negative situations and sincerely apologize if necessary. Take responsibility for your actions.
  16. Be reliable. Carry out promises and meet deadlines. Be careful of what you promise to others before you compromise your relationships.
  17. Give and accept constructive criticism to build long-lasting relationships.
  18. Forgive instead of seeking revenge and perpetuating distrustful behavior.

 

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

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