Episode 60: Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

Episode 60: Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

How can we change our perspectives to show up in a more powerful way? Don Miguel Ruiz’s answer: The Four Agreements. Originally published twenty years ago, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom: The Four Agreements continues to be a NYT Best Seller and resonate with leaders around the world. Discover how the Four Agreements apply to leadership and learn to be impeccable with your word, let go of doubts, avoid assumptions, and manifest your best ideas.

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Website: MiguelRuiz.com
Book: The Four Agreements
Bio: don Miguel Ruiz is a renowned spiritual teacher and internationally bestselling author. He has spent the past three decades guiding students to personal freedom through his profound insights regarding the nature of human reality.

Transcript

Peter: Welcome to the Bregman Leadership Podcast. I’m Peter Bregman, your host and CEO of Bregman Partners. This podcast is part of my mission to help you get massive traction on the things that matter most. We have the honor to have with us today Don Miguel Ruiz. He wrote the number one bestseller, the Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Miguel was just telling me that while the book was on the New York Times Bestseller list for seven years, it has returned 20 years later, and is now the number one book in the spiritual category of the New York Times Bestseller list. This is a book that has remained with people for many, many years, and continues to hold wisdom that offers us practical ways of acting in the world, that offers personal freedom to us but, also, I think lessons of leadership, of ways of acting in the world that help us to be more powerful leaders. Miguel, thank you so much for joining the Bregman Leadership Podcast.

Miguel: It is really my pleasure. I’m so happy to be with all of you. You guys have all my love.

Peter: Thank you. There’s an experience that led you to discover these agreements and to decide to share the Toltec wisdom more broadly. Could you briefly share that experience?

Miguel: Well, sure. I used to be a medical doctor. I used to practice surgery. I always practiced surgery with one of my brothers, which is a neurosurgeon. In certain time, I found out that it was not enough for me, just not to understand the human body because I have a bigger challenge. I really want to understand the human mind because I see that almost every problem, from anyone, is really coming from the human mind. I see how science and technology evolved very strongly, and it’s evolving very, very fast, but psychology is been behind. Anyway, I decide to stop being a medical doctor. I went back to my mother and got her wisdom and I practice for around, maybe, 10 years with her. [inaudible 00:02:43] have an apprentices. I take people to everywhere, to [inaudible 00:02:47], really, which is my place of teaching. I took them to Machu Picchu, to Egypt, to Greece, to many places. All that was just because I really want to understand how the human mind works, and the result of all that study, it was the four agreements because the challenge is not to go to everybody’s and describe what psychology is, to say, “This is ego, superego … ”

No. The result is to find how can we shift the human mind, and not just for myself, but for everybody, and the result, it was these four agreements, four simple agreements that have the power to challenge everything that we learn before, especially all those life, all the superstition who guide us to be fanatics defending the superstitions, defending all those lies, and just with simple four agreements, I really challenge every mind in the world, and it’s so simple, so easy, and that’s exactly what’s the challenge, to make it that simple and that easy to read, that anyone can understand, from people who never go to school from the most intelligent people in the world, and I was so satisfied that I really work.

Peter: And a little later on in this podcast, in this conversation, I want to talk about that very particular point because from a communication standpoint, I think you do that brilliantly, that you write a book that can really appeal to a very broad group of people, no matter the education, no matter the previous knowledge, in a way that touches people. So I want to talk, in a minute, about how you went about that process. Before I do, let’s talk about the book itself, and you start by talking about the problem that requires that we have these four agreements, and that problem has to do with what you call the domestication of humans. Can you talk just a brief amount about that?

Miguel: Well, it was so easy to understand how we becomes the way we are because when we was born, we had no knowledge. If you buy a computer, if the computer had no knowledge until you put the knowledge inside the computer. Well, we have a program that come from our society. It came from our parents, from the school, from everybody who lives around us, from the news, from movies, et cetera, then everyone is program us, is telling us who we are, the way we should behave. They put all the beliefs into our head about religions, society, everything.

Peter: And as a parent myself, it comes from a good place. Right? I know that I read that and I think to myself, “I’m doing the same thing to my children. I’m trying to teach them what I know,” but what you’re saying is, by doing that, we’re also programming them in a way that’s based in our culture, that’s based in our history, that’s based in our ancestors, and that doesn’t necessarily always serve us.

Miguel: Oh, definitely, it will serve, but at the same time, we’ll create certain problems. You know, when you educate your child, when you domesticate your child, you will give the best that you have. You will prepare him to face the outside world, to face other humans. To domesticate him is necessary. It’s extremely important. When they grow up, when they become strong, now they will see what they learned and they will rebuild, especially from all those lies and all those superstitions, but it’s important to domesticate our own children because you don’t want anybody domesticate your child. He will not do what you believe is good for him, and in that way, you will feel so wonderful when you see how your child develop because it’s an extension of you, it’s a extension of what you know, but he have his own mind and he will act and react in a completely different way, in his particular way.

Peter: When you say “domesticate,” is it the same thing as educate? What’s the difference between domesticate and educate?

Miguel: Okay. They’re very similar. In the domestication, we use punishment and reward. If the child is bad, we punish the child. If the child is good, we give it the reward, and that reward is our affection, our acceptance. We don’t reject them, but the punishment, the worst part, will be the rejection. Then we try to please the teacher, we try to please the father, we try to be the way we want us to be, and we pretend to be what we can feel that we are not.

Peter: When you’re a young child, when you’re two, three, four years old, that’s a life or death issue, meaning if I withdraw my love for my child, they need that in order to survive, so it’s not just an opinion that comes along with a punishment or a reward; it’s really a life or death issue.

Miguel: Oh, definitely. You become the leader of your child. You will lead him to be as good as he can get. You can see what is good about, and you will teach him whatever takes in order for him or her to get better and better and better, and you do it because you love your child just the way your child is. You love it unconditionally. The main problem that we can have is that we learn to love the same way that everybody around does, which means with conditions, and we learn to love with conditions just because our parents love with conditions, our brothers love with conditions. In fact, everybody around us really love with conditions. That’s how we learn to love, then I love you if you let me control you. Everybody loves you if you let them controls you. In the same way that we learn to love everybody else, we also learn to love ourself.

We love ourself with conditions, and that is the main problem in the human mind. “I love myself if I become the way I wish to be. I love myself if I becomes what everybody wants me to be, and I try to please my parents, I try to please my teachers, I try to please my friends, I try to please God, I try to please whatever,” but we cannot do that. It is the way we love ourself with conditions. “I only love myself if I’ve been accepted by everyone. If not, I will reject myself.”

Peter: And that becomes very limiting because we are then controlled by what we imagine are the perceptions of other people and we lose our ability to be creative, and we lose our ability to express ourselves clearly, and we lose the self-confidence in who we naturally are. We hide that. We separate ourselves from that more and more, so that we show up as a mirror of what the other people around us expect us to be versus what we really think and feel and how we really want to act. Am I understanding that correctly?

Miguel: Perfectly, and that is how we create a masterpiece of [inaudible 00:10:54], which is the story of our life because we create the story, we create our own reality. We create our own world, and because we create that world with conditions, with conditional love for ourself, we can say that we create our personal hell or our personal heaven. Then, once that we see what the problem is, I offer the solution, which is these four agreements. If you’re the artist who are creating your own world, which is a masterpiece, you need to be impeccable with your world, because you will create your reality with your world [crosstalk 00:11:40] with the world, then the story will be wonderful. You create your personal heaven.

Peter: One more quick question before we get into the agreements, because it occurs to me, as I’m listening to you, that there’s a part of me that feels like it actually serves me to be very aware of what it is that you want and how to meet your expectations because I could succeed in life by becoming who you need me to be, and that if I’m who you need me to be, whether it’s a broad audience or whether it’s a boss or whether it’s a colleague or whether it’s a mother or father, or whether it’s even a child, that if I could be who you need me to be, then I will be safe, and then you will stick around, and I will be successful in my business, and I’ll be successful in what I do. And I understand the risk of that, but I want you to speak, just for one minute, about the challenge of that and why that’s a bad idea.

Miguel: Okay, once that you understand that you live in the world that you create, you also will understand that everybody else did exactly the same thing. They create their own world, and in their world, they are the supreme boss, as you are in your dream. Everybody will tell you the way you should be, according what they believe, not according of what you believe. Then, is very important to learn to listen what they say, but not necessarily to believe what they say. And you don’t need to believe them because what they say is truth for them, not necessarily truth for you.

Peter: I see.

Miguel: But you listen and if they say, “Look what I did with my life, I did this and that and that,” and you see that that worked for these people, you don’t have to believe them, but when you listen, you will apply that in your own life, as you can become the best that you can comparing not just with another person, but with many other persons, many other people, because there’s seven billion people in this beautiful planet Earth who lives right now, but there’s so many others that live before and no longer live, but they bring all those great ideas, that if we listen or read what they express in their books, that will lead us to do something new, something, perhaps, much better than what they did. That is not that we are competing. It’s that we listen what they say, we push away whatever we don’t agree, and we only keep what we agree with, and in that way, we becomes better and better and better.

Peter: I see. That’s really helpful. In effect, it’s not that we’re not listening or understanding their expectations, it’s that we’re not losing ourselves to those expectations. That, in effect, I could listen to you and I could, without being triggered, understand who you want me to be and what you want me to do, and then I am still the one who can make decisions in this particular situation, at this particular time, with this particular person. How do I want to show up based on what it is that I want to achieve, who I am, what the trade offs are … we are always in the power of making those decisions, but what you’re saying is when we break out of that domestication, when we free our minds from being triggers to the needs and expectations of others, that we have the freedom of choice, about how to act, and we can always choose to act in ways that serve us or serve them or serve the world, but we don’t lose our ourselves in the process.

Miguel: Definitely, because now you see yourself as an artist, the artist who create the masterpiece of life, which is your life, but you also respect the other artist, because they also create a masterpiece with their life.

Peter: Right.

Miguel: And if you understand whatever they do or say, even if you don’t agree, they’re free to do whatever they want to do.

Peter: You respect their independence and you respect your independence and you make choices.

Miguel: Yes, and mainly your own world, your own independence, which is the most important one. Yes, I can expect something from you as I can expect something from the entire seven billion people in this beautiful planet Earth. And what I expect is to please help me to change the world, and I’m not talking about humanity, the planet Earth. I’m just talking about the world that you create, own world that nobody can change it but you, because you are the one who create it, and if you can change your own world in your way, without any influence from anybody, then you can see that your world becomes better and better, and that becomes contentious, because the people who you love, they will see you. They will try to be like you in their own way. If they see you are changing your world, they also will change theirs, but the way that you can change your world is not by changing everybody around you, is not by changing the secondary characters in your story, it’s to change the main character of your story, which means to change yourself, to change what you believe you are, to change the image of yourself by understanding, first, that you’re identity, what you believe you are, is just an image that you create, is not the real you.

Because [inaudible 00:17:36] follow the opinions of everybody but you. Not even your name is really you. Your parents called you the way they called you, and you agreed with them, and then you create your identity from that point of view. Then, at school, everybody tells you who you are, the teachers tells you who you are, your parents, everybody tells you what you are, and we have all that in the mind, and using everything in their reflection of you in them, you create an image of yourself, and for your whole life, you’re believing that you are that image, but you are not that image, because that image really love with conditions, and this is the main problem, then that is not really love, but the opposite of love. The opposite of love is not fear, it’s not anger, it’s not jealousy. No, the opposite of love is love itself.

Like if you see yourself in the mirror, your right hand becomes the left hand. Well, it’s exactly the same thing. You are an image of what you really are, because what you really are is you’re immortal. You cannot die, but your body will. You live in your body. You are the life who moves your body. You are the energy who moves matter. Matter cannot be moved without energy. Okay, now stop with energy. Don’t stop. Your body is nothing but matter, and are you really your body or you are the force that is moving every sell, every atom of your body? Well, that’s what you really are. You are energy, and energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, and it’s transforming matter all the time. When our body die, we don’t die, but that way you can see I am not really Miguel. Miguel is just my [inaudible 00:19:43] my image. I agree. It is wonderful because this is how I can relate with everybody around me.

Peter: It’s a very powerful vision, and what you’re saying in the book in here is that there’s guidance for ourselves as energy, and these are the four agreements, the four agreements that say if we want to really show up powerfully in the world, as our ourselves, undomesticated, with free energy, the way to do that is to follow these four agreements, and the first one, you were beginning to share, is to be impeccable with your word.

Miguel: Which is the most powerful one. It’s the tool that you use as the artist, it’s how you create the story of your life. It depends how you use your word. You can create a wonderful story that you can enjoy or you can create so much drama that you will suffer in that story.

Peter: Why is it so hard to be impeccable with our words?

Miguel: Because wherever we go, we see exactly the opposite. They are not impeccable, like your father say, “Okay, somebody’s knocking at the door,” and tells you, “Okay, go tell them that I’m not here.” You don’t-

Peter: Right, so we have examples.

Miguel: But it’s millions of those.

Peter: Millions of examples.

Miguel: Yeah, and we can see everywhere. It is the biggest justification that we lie that way, but this is normal for humanity. It is okay. Don’t take anything personally.

Peter: That’s the second agreement.

Miguel: Then, when you know that you live in the story that you create, and you fill the story with secondary characters because the image of your mother is there, the image of your wife is there, the image of your children are there, but they are not your children who are in your mind. It’s just the reflection of them, and the only thing that you know about them is what you believe about them, and they do exactly the same thing in their head. You are only a secondary character in their mind, and they can believe that they know you, but they only know about you what they believe about you, and you know you are not that. You are not what anybody else believe that you are, because they get that image and try to fill it in the creation that they have, and it’s completely distorted. Then, whatever they say about you is really referring to the secondary character who live in their mind. Then, if you take it personally, that means that you agree with them and you read that in your own mind, and you will react emotionally. You can get angry. You can get jealous. You can get amorous. Who knows? Depends.

But when we have that awareness, if we don’t take anything personally, that give advantage to everybody else because they don’t know what you know. It is not personal. Like, The Godfather, “It’s not personal, now. It’s business.”

Peter: How do we then distinguish between feedback that someone gives us that is personal? That they tell us something about ourselves that has a lot of truth to it, and it’s very personal and not about them, but it really about us, versus the feedback that they give us that’s sloppy, that is really about them and has nothing to do with us.

Miguel: Well, with personal [inaudible 00:23:23], like we say before, you need to learn to listen. Whatever they say, for them, is the truth even if it’s not true for you. Then, you listen what they say, you don’t believe it, but you can take action in what you think may be true.

Peter: Right. It almost doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. What matters is it’s their perspective, and it informs you about how to act with them so that you could be effective in that relationship-

Miguel: Exactly.

Peter: … but it doesn’t make you question who you are and create insecurities in you.

Miguel: No, because you know what you are.

Peter: Right.
Miguel: When you did something, you know why you did whatever you do. They may not understand your motives, but you understand yourself, because let’s see … when we love with conditions, we try to impose over other people to control them. “I love you if you let me control you.” They love you if you let them control you. Then you can see it’s a world of control, and the problem is that we don’t do what they want us to do.

Peter: I find, also, that people have tendencies, that there are some people who won’t take it personally if you criticize them, but they do take it personally if you compliment them. On the other hand, there are people who don’t take it personally if you compliment them, but do take it personally if you criticize them, and that also tells you something about yourself.

Miguel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, you can say the same example with The Godfather. Okay? Someone tried to kill your father, then it’s not really personal. It’s business. There’s a reason why they tried to kill your father, but you take it personally, and you start killing everybody. Of course, that will affect you. That should have a reaction. Then, your reaction is not personal either. It’s also business, unless you put all your emotions there, and becomes on a vengeance.

Peter: So by not taking things personally, we become more impeccable with our words and our actions, also?

Miguel: Yes, because if somebody breaks … we can say the limits, your limits … you need to react to defend your territory, to defend your family. It makes sense?

Peter: Yes, absolutely. Talk to us, Miguel, if you would, about the third agreement: don’t make assumptions.

Miguel: Oh, this is so beautiful. With the [inaudible 00:26:07], all the thinking that we have is nothing but the voice of knowledge. It’s what we know. With the words, we create all the knowledge. We build an edifice of knowledge. Knowledge, it start talking in our head, and for many people, knowledge is talking all the time, like a wild horse that cannot be controlled. Then, for whatever happen, any event that happen, we jump into so many different assumptions. We create a whole picture of something that could be, and we may have the tendency to do that all the time. When we have that awareness, and we don’t make assumptions, we go for the facts for what is true at a listener point of view. Once that we know they’re true, we take action, because when we make all the assumptions, we can create a whole storm, and with the truth in our lives, we found out that all that was for free, but emotionally, we [inaudible 00:27:17] ourself, and not ourself, also, everybody around us.

Peter: So I was thinking about this, Miguel, and I was thinking one of the challenges of not making assumptions is that the very concept of an assumption is that we don’t know that we’re making it, that it’s just something that happens. How do we uncover the assumptions that we make in a way that helps us to avoid making them?

Miguel: Well, when I say, “Don’t believe what they say, because you know that it’s truth for them.” Well, when you go inside yourself, the same thing, don’t believe yourself. Don’t believe all the lies that you tell to yourself, because most of that really puts you down, mainly.

Peter: How do we know what to believe, then?

Miguel: Listen what you say. When you listen and you use the doubt as an instrument. “Is that true that I’m that stupid? Is that true that I’m really that ugly?” Well, it is not truth at all. “Is that true that I cannot make it? Is that true that I’m very weak?” We should [crosstalk 00:28:34] ourself, don’t believe yourself, but listen what you say. By listening what you say, you find your own lies. You see your own fanaticism when you defend your lies, when you defend your superstitions, and when you try to impostor other people, you can see your own fanaticism, and when you are aware of that, you can break it. You can face your fears, even if nobody notice you face the fear and, later, you don’t have that fear any longer, and your life is changing.

Peter: It’s beautiful. Katie Byron, who’s also on this podcast, talks about her four questions, and her second questions is, “How do I know it’s true?” And that seems like a very relevant question. If you say, “I’m ugly,” or, “I’m weak.” Is it true? You might even say, “Yeah, I probably think it’s true,” because you’ve been convinced. You’ve been domesticated. This is your belief system. Asking that next question, “How do I know it’s true?” Helps you to begin to question that next assumption.

Miguel: Well, this is the most beautiful part of all. You know? It’s absolutely true, but you don’t have any words to try to explain it or justify it. It is what it is. The truth exists long after degradation of humanity. The truth doesn’t need that we believe or not in the truth. It just exists. It exists now with all our lies and all that we do in our mind, it still exists. The truth is there, but we don’t see it, and will exist long after the extinction of humanity. The truth doesn’t need that we believe or not in the truth, and when you see your physical body, let’s say, in the mirror, that is true. Your body is the truth. Okay? What you believe is not truth. Your opinion is not truth. Everybody else’s opinion are not truth. It’s just points of view from everybody else, and only exists in their mind; it’s virtual. I’m the truth. You are the truth. [crosstalk 00:30:47] truth.

Peter: You’re saying something very interesting, which is as long as it’s, by definition, unmaterial, a belief, it’s never true. It’s always a perception. So that if someone says you’re ugly or you’re weak or you’re strong or you’re beautiful, none of it matters because it’s all a perception.

Miguel: Exactly. It’s their point of view. For them, it may be truth in their dream, in their mind. You can believe or not believe. Of course, if you believe, “Oh, yeah, you are so smart.” “Okay, I want to believe I’m smart, and in my dream, now I am smart because I tell myself I am smart, I will become more and more smarter.” But if I say to myself, “I’m so stupid,” then we’ll be more and more stupid. [crosstalk 00:31:33].

Peter: It’s interesting, Miguel. So it’s not about changing one belief for another. It’s about letting go of all of those beliefs.

Miguel: Yes, to find the truth of yourself, because you create all your knowledge. All your opinions are in you because you agree with those opinions, even if it’s not your opinions, it lives in you. Then, you use the word to create all what you know, then when you are impeccable with the word, when you no longer believe yourself, now you see yourself as the one who put every single thought in your mind. Now, knowledge doesn’t control you any longer. Now, you control knowledge, and that’s the main point. When you control knowledge, you can do with knowledge whatever you want to, because it’s because you are working with … you don’t believe your own knowledge, but you use it in order to communicate with everybody around you.

Peter: Yeah, it’s actually one of the hard things. As I’m listening to you, I’m thinking that words are insufficient. Just keeping that same analogy about weak or strong or beautiful or ugly, that you can look at yourself and it’s insufficient to come up with a word to describe yourself, so you just have a deep knowledge of who you are, but it’s indescribable in that way.

Miguel: Exactly, that’s the point. You can see the most beautiful rose and write a whole book about that rose, and with the whole book, you would not even describe … in fact, you’ve got the rose, you had it. You don’t need to say anything. You just know, and that rose is the truth. All the descriptions that you write about the rose is just your point of view. It’s not true.

Peter: Beautiful. The fourth agreement, the last agreement: always do your best.

Miguel: That’s my favorite one. We have all those great ideas in our mind, all the wishes that we can create, et cetera, et cetera, well, if we don’t take the action, most of those ideas will disappear. When we take the action, we manifest those ideas, and those ideas becomes real. A big example is what we are doing right now. We have a screen here, and we are speaking to this screen. Well, this was a dream that we have for thousands of years.

Peter: Where are you located right now?

Miguel: Right now, I’m in San Diego.

Peter: You’re in San Diego?

Miguel: Yes.

Peter: All right, and I’m in New York, and we’re seeing each other. This is an audio interview only for the listeners, but Miguel and I are on Skype looking at each other on a screen.

Miguel: That somebody have idea to create something like this, and it takes the help of many people, but it manifests that idea.

Peter: It’s interesting. When I first read that agreement, I put the accent on “best,” but you’re really putting the accent on “do.” “Always do your best,” the accent is on action.

Miguel: The action, exactly, and do your best because you can have so many great ideas, but you have to choose the best ideas, and take action in those and, maybe, put the others by later, if you have the time for those ideas, but you take the action. In taking the action, you becomes better, but everybody around you also becomes better. Then you have a [inaudible 00:35:19], finally, you take the idea, and you see your whole family going up with you. You have a, let’s say, a problem with one of your children, finally, it comes into your head, “Oh, this is the problem.” Then, you face the problem. You manifest your idea, and your child will change completely the way he should be, and you [inaudible 00:35:43] really for him, not for yourself, because if your child is doing great, you feel great, also.

Peter: This conversation makes me want to read the book again because there’s a depth to this that … and you mentioned this when we first started this conversation, you wrote it in a way that could appeal to everybody no matter what. When I first read the book, I read it, I think, on a more superficial level than I’m now understanding it, so it makes me want to read it again. Tell me how, as a writer, you’re able to take this deep Toltec wisdom, the years that you spent as an apprentice to your mother and in your family, and translate it … especially when we’re talking about opinions and words as not being the truth, how you’re able to translate this into what turns out to be a very simple, easy-to-understand, well-articulated book.

Miguel: Okay, well, first of all, I really want to understand how the human mind works. I have apprentices, and that was what I use in order to go deeper and deeper how they feel, they believe, et cetera, power of suggestion. Well, many things until their mind became so clear for me. I could see the mind so clearly, and, really, the mind of the entire humanity’s exactly the same thing. Then, I can see how everybody create their own belief system, according the fashion around them, religion, everything that happen around them, but they are the ones who are reacting for whatever they’re perceiving. Then, with this book, the idea, it was to give a tool that they can use in order to find what they really are, a tool that will change … like you say, every time that you read the book, it’s a like you’re reading a completely different book, but the book didn’t change. What changed is the one who’s reading the book.

You know, all those words in the book are dead, but you give life when you read it. As soon as you read it, those words come in action and go directly into our mind, and it’s challenging, all the ideas that we had before, all those concepts. It’s fighting those superstitions that we create, and it’s fighting the fanaticism that we have to defend our own life. When you read it for the second time, you’ll really face many of those superstitions. You’re a little less fanatic, and now you can go even deeper in that book, because that book is really like a mirror who is reflecting you. With simple four agreements, it’s reflected you so beautifully, and it’s not important really, not even the language that you speak, because it’s been translated in 40 different languages now, which means it’s around the world, and that go deep into everyone who reads that book. It’s beyond all the domestication that we have, because it is go directly to our own integrity, even before we learn to speak.

It’s like this is your grandfather telling you his wisdom. “Don’t make assumptions.” Or, “Don’t take it personally.” Look what we are saying. “Be impeccable with your word because what you say is going to come back to you.” And maybe worse, “Don’t hate. That hate will hurt people, and people who hurts will come back to you.”

Peter: These lessons are so simple and straightforward and immediately recognizable and, yet, part of this conversation is how hard it is to live up to them, to be impeccable with the word, not to make assumptions. I think what the book did for me is to remind me, to say … and this conversation is doing for me also, to remind me to say, “You know, next assumption I make, I want to question it. Next time I say something, I want to pause briefly and say, ‘Am I being impeccable? Is this what I really mean?'”

Miguel: Exactly. Doubt about your own assumption, about your own knowledge.

Peter: Right.

Miguel: “I’m being truth?”

Peter: I think it takes all of us slowing down just a little bit, because if we don’t slow down, we’ll follow the habits that we’re in, and those habits lead us to be less than impeccable, or to not act on the things that are most important to act, or to make assumptions. One of the lessons of this, for me, is to slow down enough and to just ask us, maybe spend a day, all day tomorrow, ask the first agreement, “Am I being impeccable with my word?” Just one, and question whether I’m really doing that and begin to see where there are lapses in my holding to that agreement.

Miguel: And you can see, by doing that, you are changing your own world.

Peter: Right. It’s scary. It’s scary because the reason we’re not impeccable with our word is because we don’t want to have a reaction on the other side. We don’t want to tell someone something.

Miguel: Right.

Peter: It’s very scary, and I think that’s some of what we’ll all feel when we do this, is we’ll feel some of that fear.

Miguel: Yes, and this is extremely wonderful. Just imagine, you change your world, becomes happier and happier and happier. Imagine that seven people do the same thing, seven billion people. How’s going to be our planet, really?

Peter: Right. Let’s end on that beautiful image and vision. We have with us Don Miguel Ruiz. The Four Agreements is his book, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Miguel, it is such a pleasure to have you on the Bregman Leadership Podcast. Thank you for joining us.

Miguel: Well, I’m so grateful with you, that you can share all of this with thousands of people, maybe millions. Who knows? But just give them my love and, like I say, if I can do it, you can do it, and if you can do it, everybody can do it. Then, let’s do it.

Peter: If you enjoyed this episode of the Bregman Leadership Podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. For more information about the Bregman Leadership Intensive, as well as access to my articles, videos, and podcasts, visit PeterBregman.com. Thank you to Clare Marshall for producing this episode, and to Brian Wood, who created our music. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the next great conversation.


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