Training & Development

Quint’s Column: The Four Agreements

Quint Studer at the public input sessions for the future Studer Community Institute building. Credit: Barrett McClean.

When the student is ready the teacher appears.

I have written that as a supervisor, parent, friend or co-worker it is important to bury the ego. Have you experienced a time when a friend or colleague tells you about this advice they received — advice you gave them way before – but they act like it’s the first time they’ve heard it?

The recipient means no harm or ill will.

People can listen and comprehend information much better when there is a direct need to know it. That makes sense. People have busy lives. Why attend a class, listen to a presentation, read a book or watch a video until the timing makes the most sense?

This has been my experience with my own learning and with the organizations I’ve worked with over the years. When do leaders want to know more about employee retention? When employee turnover is having a negative impact.

Often, only after the effect is being felt do people learn more about the cause and symptoms. Just-in-time learning can often work well. Learning is always good. There are those times when learning before the heat of the moment is better. I hope the information below is helpful.

Several years ago, a person shared how he read a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, called The Four Agreements and it was very impactful. So much so that he traveled a great distance to attend a workshop by the author. While it sounded great for him, I did not buy the book.

Some years later, another person I knew commented about this book. This person gifted it to me. I thanked them and put it on a shelf, left unread. A few years ago, I was leaving a hotel. I noticed when I got close to the front, the doorman was reading The Four Agreements. He put it down as I approached. I mentioned it to him. He said he loved the book. Maybe the third time was the charm. When I got back home, I took the book off the shelf and read it.

Today, I also have it on my I Pad. I like sharing books that may be helpful. I can’t explain why it took three times to hear about that book before I read it. There are times when I re-read a book and even though parts are underlined and highlighted, my comprehension was weak. Repetition is good.

A recent conversation brought The Four Agreements to mind.  Someone made a comment about their supervisor. It appeared to me that the person was making some assumptions and was ready to act on them. After our conversation, the person went back and had a conversation with their boss and learned their assumptions had not been accurate.

If this person had acted on these assumptions it would not have been helpful to anyone. Here are the four agreements written and described by Ruiz:

Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim or needless suffering.

Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always do your best. Your best is going to change moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Progress not perfection. I do feel a work place, a neighborhood, a family and community benefits when everyone does their best to follow these agreements.

Last week we lost Fred Vigodsky. In attending Fred’s service, there were common themes. Fred impacted many lives in a very positive fashion. In looking at the four agreements it is evident they are part of Fred’s life. My condolences to Fred’s family and friends.