One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’ve read it a couple of times and listened to the audio book more than once. It offers unique insights. Ruiz believes that we have been “domesticated” — to the extent that we base much of our thinking and activity on the story that we’ve been handed or have developed without full awareness. To live to our fullest potential, we need to avoid disempowering agreements by empowering ourselves through the Four Agreements.
I’d like to give my insight on how each one of these agreements can affect the HR function.
1. Be impeccable with your Word. It’s a gift from God. How we use our Word defines our lives. It’s not just about what we say, but who we are. We can use our Word with others as well as with ourselves. Unfortunately, such factors as fear and greed can have a negative impact on our Word.
How can we be impeccable with our Word when it comes to HR? Begin by clarifying expectations for ourselves. Do we really want to be great HR executives? Have we committed our Word to this fact? Do we have the integrity to follow up and keep the promises we make to ourselves and to others? Are we willing to expose those who are less than willing to have integrity?
2. Don’t take things personally. Ruiz tells us this is the main reason for conflict at home, work, and on the world stage. It dovetails with my scenarios concerning Victims, Villains and Heroes. When we play Victim, we can’t wait to take things personally. When we take things personally, there’s always the potential of turning a molehill into a mountain. Of course, the person that we attack or blame will begin with their justifications, launch a counter-attack — and then the drama really begins! Here’s my question: Where are you taking things too personally? Are you taking the lack of support for the HR department personally? Do you take things the owner or managers say to you personally?
3. Don’t make assumptions. You know what the word “assume” means. However, we’re assuming all the time. It would be hard to run your life without making some assumptions along the way. For example, we assume that when we step on the gas that the car will move forward. We also assume that when the light is green nobody will be traveling through the intersection from the cross street. If we move blindly forward with our assumptions, we might be hit by someone who ran the red light. We have to watch the assumptions or stories that we place on people or circumstances — often without even knowing them. I have an assumption about this person, and they’re upsetting me by not living up to the assumption. As the fox said in Aesop’s fables, “I was just being a fox.”
Where do you make too many assumptions? Do you assume that you have your HR act together? Do you assume you have the best possible employees on every seat of the bus? Do you assume that the recession is now history, and we won’t have to worry anymore about layoffs or RIFs any time soon?
4. Do your best. This is all we can ask of ourselves and anyone else. Do your best and then let go. Of course, the question is are you doing your best or is something else happening? Are you really making an effort to improve your value to the company or are you stuck on auto-pilot? Are you willing to take a risk and do something new, or will you remain rooted in your comfort zone? Doing our best requires us to stretch ourselves and make mistakes, like toddlers who fall down repeatedly before they learn how to walk and run. So, here’s my last question: Where can you honestly say you’re not doing your best? Where are you trying to ignore, bury, or deny the fact you’re not giving it your best? How will you feel when you’re finally “found out” about this known area of weakness?
Do yourself a huge favor and pick up a copy or audio book of The Four Agreements. You’ll be glad you did!