The Four Agreements for a Better Life

The Four Agreements for a Better Life

I recently attended a leadership training in which the book The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz was discussed in regards to advice with leadership development and improving communication skills. Since talking about the book that day at the training (I’d never heard of the book before), the main four points have continuously come to mind when dealing with work, friends, peers, family, and stresses that I have been having. The book doesn’t need to be read in full in order to be inspired by its insight. Take a moment to think about these four “agreements” that can be followed in daily life to establish a more fulfilling experience and outlook:

1. Be impeccable with your word
2. Don’t take it personally
3. Don’t make assumptions
4. Always do your best

I believe each of these agreements are equally important and helpful for improving how we interpret and participate in life, but for me and where my life is now, #2 is most relevant and is where I need the most work! “Don’t take anything personally.” The statement is so concise and simple yet extremely difficult for me to do. I tend to take everything personally. What I feel is so important to share is that this agreement explains that other people act out of their own personal needs. What the author states is “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and 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 of needless suffering.”  Wow. When I heard this at my training I felt a strike of inspiration. When decisions are made by others on what they might say or how they might act, my feelings and who I am are not taken into consideration. That being said, I need to resist from reacting as though it’s personal. I feel as though this concept is freeing to me. It sure explains a lot if you sit back and analyze worries, stresses and disappointments you might be experiencing.

If you are consumed by how others are behaving and acting it is hard to lead your own life most effectively (and happily). I know when I am worried about others, I put myself second. When I have taken what people say or do personally, I can’t give of myself the way I would like to. I also don’t treat myself the way I should. For me, how others act (in the past and when I don’t consciously check myself) changes my ability to be my best self. My newest goal is to take the time to evaluate situations and repeat the mantra “don’t take it personally” before investing emotions and reacting to others.

I hope you, like me, feel that at least one of these four agreements, if not all of them, spark some inspiration on a new outlook. Take some time out of your day today to really think what the four agreements mean to you and how you might be able to improve your life through being impeccable with your word, not taking things personally, avoiding assumptions and always doing your best!

-Alex W.

P.S. Thanks to one of my mentors, Leslie S., for your inspiration and training!

Leadership Island

Leadership Island

For those of you old enough to remember, there was once a television show named “Fantasy Island.” Guests would arrive by pontoon plane, greeted by Mr. Roarke, and handed a drink. They described their unfulfilled dream and with incredible hope, would embark on what they believed to be their destiny.

I loved this show for so many reasons, the 1980’s stars, the tropical setting, but most of all because of that look every guest had on their face when they stepped on this island, explained to Mr. Roarke what they believed they needed to happen and walked away believing they knew what they predestine to happen was the only road map to peace and happiness. I will let you know how the show always ended at the end of this post…but I wanted to have you visualize our leadership skills as more of an island and less of a land mass.

For our male readers, this is more of a better understanding on how the women in your life are socialized to view themselves but for our female readers, this is a challenge to see yourself differently.

I was born an advocate…I shut down my 4th grade PE class because I challenged the way the teacher let some kids dictate how teams were picked. You would think that someone who found her voice so early would be comfortable being different, but I never was. I always felt I was on the outside looking in on a fantastic party that everyone was invited to but me.

It wasn’t till I met my husband and he put my leadership qualities in perspective for me. He told me that leaders stand alone. A leader doesn’t doesn’t say what it necessarily popular, but says what needs to be said. I can’t tell you how much this put my mind at ease. There were so many times that I thought I was standing up for the “little guy” or social justice but when I looked to my teachers, mentors, co-workers, bosses, or even friends, I heard silence or even worse sharp criticism. How lonely! and I must be wrong, because I am alone…

I was wrong. Standing up for what is right will often leave you standing alone, like an island, but you are not wrong. That is where my metaphor of leadership as an island comes in, men or women. If you are looking to be a leader at any point of your life, you will at some point be alone. New ideas/concepts scare people and they would rather hold on to what they believe to be true. Do not let that stop you from challenging the norm because what we know about leadership is what we know to be true about islands. Sometimes you will be that strange island off the beach in Long Beach, CA, no one quite knows what purpose you serve but you have to be there for a reason so they will eventually leave you alone. Sometimes you will be Hawaii, everyone wants to be close to you for your natural beauty yet they know they can not stay and you will eventually be alone again. Do not let the fear of being alone stop you from being a leader. Who would not want to be Hawaii if given the chance? Why wouldn’t we raise our girls and boys to be this kind of natural beauty even knowing that sometimes they will stand alone?

My point is that we should be raising our children to be leadership islands not land locked masses. We can raise them to speak the truth on behalf of those whose voices are silenced in our communities and societies in a way that shows them the beauty of leadership while teaching them to ride out the times when they are alone in standing for their principles.

One last point is that we truly are not islands. Although we can raise our children to be comfortable in accepting their voice and empowering them as leaders, our words and actions have ripple effects on the community at large and that also needs to be taught to our children. Just like when you land in Hawaii and you are asked not to bring in any foreign objects that would disrupt the ecosystem, so should we educate our children in their words and actions. We do not say or do things just because we think they are “right,” we say and do what we have studied and mindfully believe to be best for our ecosystem (our community/society). When we approach leadership in this mindset, we are better prepared to stand alone.

I promised you I would let you know how the show “Fantasy Island” ended, that was another reason I loved this show. The guests never had the experience they thought they would when they first landed on the island, and yet they were always grateful for what they experienced. When we teach our children (or learn for ourselves), that our life experiences are unpredictable but to believe in the unimaginable, we all can leave the “island” like the guests on Fantasy Island. Pure gratitude…

On a personal note, Happy Birthday to one of the strongest women I know…my mom! You amaze me everyday! It is because of you and the amazing women (Grandma) that came before us that frees us to be who we are. I adore you!

-Cheryl L.

Ban Bossy

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and board member of Disney, with her organization Lean In is joining forces with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez to launch a public service campaign called “Ban Bossy.” The banbossy.com website gives tips for parents, kids, teachers and others about how to encourage young female leaders. Click on the following link to see a news story released through ABC news on March 10, 2014 about the campaign- Ban Bossy

The Ban Bossy movement has started. Let’s all band together to stand up for creating and empowering future leaders in our communities. 

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Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

When I graduated from high school a gift I received was The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I had no idea how meaningful his poems would be until life continued to roll by and I faced certain challenges and had to make some hard decisions. For years I have continuously come across gems of insight discovered from books and quotes of Dr. Seuss. He of course writes about “The Places You’ll Go,” about the importance of individuality, is a great resource for motivation and giving perspective to situations, emphasizes the importance of reading, and is a true source for uplifting the spirit.

This morning I learned, while getting my family ready for school, that Dr. Seuss’ birthday was on March 2nd! As a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ life, the kids got to wear pajamas to school and participate in reading activities. I asked them why they got to wear pjs today and they said “because it’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday and we are reading across America!” I have never seen the kids get ready so fast for school and feel special wearing their favorite pajamas to celebrate this individual! I grew up with Dr. Seuss and I love the fact that schools continue to make a special occasion out of this date and encourage students to celebrate his work.

Dr. Seuss sure was ahead of the game in regards to self-esteem, self-worth and self-empowerment. One of my favorite quotes by him is “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

I may not be in school anymore, or able to indulge and wear my pajamas to work, but I can take some extra time to nourish my soul with Dr. Seuss. I encourage you, your family, and peers to spend time this week doing the same. Whether you go to your local library or book store to peruse his classic books or search the web for his famous poems, spend that extra time on “you” this week.

Please help us continue this conversation and share your favorite Dr. Seuss quotes with us below!

-Alex W., The Confidence Post