Several years ago Jordan said: "Ma, I want you to read a book -- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz." Just so you are clear. I'm not one for self-help books, and I also run from anything that seems a bit "woo woo," which is my sophisticated term for New Age. But I have a deep respect for Jordan, the son-of-my-heart whose story I will tell you sometime. So when he asked, I acted.
The book has had a profound and ongoing effect on my life. Time spent with Don Miguel has been amazing (pictured above with me three years ago at a retreat in Mexico). The Ruiz family, including brothers Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and Don Jose Ruiz, are masters of the Toltec way of life, and they have shared their wisdom with millions of people globally.
On a deeper level, I consider Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. a dear friend and my teacher. His first book, The Five Levels of Attachment, is extraordinary, and I am very excited about his latest book , The Mastery of Self.
To put it simply, these men have transformed my life. And while I am not surprised on the personal level, the fundamental improvements to my work professionally as both a marketer and entrepreneur have been unexpected.
So here's how The Four Agreements has made me a better marketer:
Be Impeccable with Your Word. I love words both written and verbal. I am a talker (just ask those around me) and a writer. Maybe because words have always come so easy for me, I did not quite understand their power. So I have sometimes been careless with language.
But the first agreement asks us to "Be Impeccable with Your Word." That means that you create your world -- and the agreements that rule it -- through how you speak to yourself and others. So be impeccable. Say what you really mean. Seek truth.
Don't Take Anything Personally. You got to be kidding? I am a short, fat, three-time married, opinionated, aging Jewish woman. I take everything personally.
Actually, not anymore. Now, I walk around with a mantra in my head: "Your story. My story. Your story. My story."
The second agreement "Don't Take Anything Personally" explains that my reality is simply my reality. I am the main character in my story, so if I take what others say personally I am letting them define me, which is impossible and actually disrespectful to them.
There is true freedom when you stop taking things personally.
Don't Make Assumptions. For many years, I acted as if mind-reading was one of my superpowers. I knew what you were thinking even before you knew it. I walked around making "assumptions," and, yes, I did act like the first three letters of the word.
Then I began to see that the only story I know, the only person I know and the only world I know is my own. And even that knowledge is quite cloudy. So how can I possibly read minds?
That means if I want to understand something, I can only do one thing -- ask. Ask someone about what they need instead of assuming what they need? Ask someone what they are feeling instead of assuming what they are feeling?
Such a bold and different way of living my life! And so infinitely more pleasant.
Always Do Your Best. I think of this as The Four Agreements' escape clause. I tend toward perfectionism, and when I read the first three agreements I was ready to give up. "Impossible," I thought. "Only a saint or shaman could pull this off." But then along came the fourth agreement, "Always Do Your Best," and I realized that I could do this. I could actually acknowledge my humanity and understand that mistakes are just fine, as long as I learn and do my best.