Originally posted on elarox.blogspot.com (retired blog) on Jan. 28, 2011.
Many years ago, a dear friend named Noelle told me about a book she was reading called The Four Agreements. I frequently think of these simple yet complicated agreements, especially when I’m guilty of not following one. I thought it would be a good idea to interpret each agreement in my own way; do my own spin on Don Miguel Ruiz’ ideas.
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
In other words, don’t talk sh*t about people. You know that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach you get when you somehow find out that someone said mean things about you? Now, would you ever want to be the cause of making a fellow human being feel that way? Karma, anyone? That said, this one is so hard to follow. When someone at work or at home or even on the road upsets us, our first instinct is to rip that person to shreds to the first person we speak to. But does it really do any good? Does it erase that bitchy look a coworker gave you by the coffee pot? Does it do away with that time when your brother gave you attitude for no apparent reason? Does it revoke the license of the bad driver who cut you off in rush hour traffic? No times three.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
When my students give me a particularly hard time (I’m talking to you, sixth period), sometimes I have to fight back tears. I honestly think, “I’m a horrible, ineffective teacher. I can’t get these kids to stop chatting or calling out. I’m in the wrong profession. Can I just leave and never come back?” Truth is, they’re teenagers. They’re hormonal, imbalanced, trying-to-be-cool teenagers. Is this my fault? No. Does that mean I should stop learning classroom management skills from veteran teachers? No. You follow?
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
“My boyfriend didn’t tell me he loved me when we hung up the phone today. Something must be wrong. What could be wrong? Is he still mad about that argument from two nights ago?” NO. If something bothers you, ask the person who’d be the best source. Stop worrying. Chances are, your assumptions are wrong. No, scratch that. Assumptions are always wrong. We all know what happens when one assumes…
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best will change from day to day. You’re not going to be the same superstar you were last week when this week you have the flu or are feeling really blue or are going through a breakup. “Your best” is individualized to you and your circumstances and your abilities. But don’t sell out. This means don’t resort to laziness, mediocrity or excuses. And when you do — because we all do sometimes — snap out of it as soon as you can because you’re really robbing yourself of joy. When I put my all into a lesson and really take my time preparing it, it shows. I am so happy to present this lesson I worked so hard for to my students, that I am genuinely excited about the material. This is contagious. Would you rather learn from a person who looks like they’d rather be gardening or a person who is smiling and joyous? This can be applied to any job at any level.