By Steve Seinberg
Back in 1997, a gentleman named Don Miguel Ruiz published a book called The Four Agreements, in which he put forth the notion that by making and sticking to these four covenants with yourself, you would release your stranglehold on much of the pain and suffering you’d been experiencing in life. The book has since sold over 7 million copies, and bright lights such as Oprah Winfrey have promoted it to their audiences.
In my own humble opinion, Ruiz has come up with some helpful ideas, and the book is worth reading (it’s a pretty thin volume, and you can probably knock it out in a single go if you feel like it).
However…the more I think about Ruiz’s advice, the more I believe his teachings can all be boiled down into one short, sharp concept:
In Ruiz’s book, the first Agreement is “Be impeccable with your word,” and three more Agreements follow it (math probably told you that much already…). I feel pretty convinced that you can lop off the rest of that first Agreement and the three that follow, because they all feel like subsets of this simple but incredibly powerful idea.
Do you want to be successful? Do you want to be happy?
Then be impeccable. Like…in all that you do, all the time.
Impeccability means unadulterated excellence. To be impeccable is to rise above such human failings as being small, petty, envious, resentful, cheap, whiny, gossipy, self-pitying, angry, greedy, prideful, and lazy. This last one is big. Laziness and excellence are mutually exclusive. Avoid shortcuts and quick fixes – these are almost always avenues that take you in the opposite direction from impeccability, and the long-term losses will far outweigh any short-term feelings of gain.
Be impeccable. Do the hard work. Own up to your own failings and resolve to do better. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Practice outreach and gratitude. Throw life-preservers. Put other people first. Try things, and if you fall on your face, rise up again (the only “failure” is in giving up). Ask hard questions and tell hard truths. Be honest, be in integrity.
It’s almost infinitely easier to say all of this than to do it…but for my part, I’ve begun a program of doing my best at it in as ongoing a fashion as I can manage. And when I fall off the beam, I just get back on it as quickly as I can.
Picture a world in which everyone is impeccable. We do not live in that world…yet. But imagine how joyful that world would be. Imagine billions of people thriving because everyone is being their finest selves. Achieving that world starts with one person at a time making the effort.