Be impeccable with your word. Of all Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements I think this is the most important. In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch offers the same guidance. And they are certainly not the only two.
This goes beyond being truthful. This is also following through with your word. Obsessively so.
It is developing awareness around speech. In essence, thinking before you speak. A practice of mindfulness that is far more difficult than it seems.
It forces us to NOT, just say something just to say it. We’ve all developed the unattractive habit of talking out of our asses–empty promises, empty compliments, empty dialogue–that results in the slow and steady chipping away of our authenticity.
I began this practice of impeccable-ness with my word in 2008, shortly after reading the above books. And I’m still practicing. Seriously, it is no small feat to actually say what you mean. At first I felt a little bit like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar, covering my mouth when the truth slipped out before I’d gotten the chance to pad it. Balance came when I took even more time (almost uncomfortable time) to configure my thoughts; something I had never been patient enough [read: bothered enough] to try.
Even today, I do a lot of back peddling. As a story teller, I’ve always enjoyed a good embellishment. The bigger the laugh the better. As a kid, I told so many white lies that by the time I was in high school I couldn’t tell truth from tale. Now, when my automatic response is a bit of a story, I correct myself gracefully and laugh at the old habit for creeping back in.
This One Agreement has been a great challenge of vulnerability and authenticity, peeling back the layers of protection mechanisms and poor habits. The clarity around what makes us uncomfortable, what draws us to stretch the truth, the need for unnecessary social niceties, is fascinating. #tyomd
Well, at least this personal development junkie;)
I leave you with this: If you develop One Agreement, develop this one. Try it for a week, and see what you find out. There is nothing more attractive than genuine authenticity. Jump in, the water’s warm.
PS … These are the other three agreements:
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.