As a Career Coach, people often ask me, “What book should I read to help further my career?” Or at this time of year, “What career-oriented book should I buy for someone else?”
Whether the person asking me this question currently has a job or is looking for one, I always recommend the same book. This book has proven to help people facing change make successful transitions in their lives for 60+ years.
The book I’m referring to is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
This book was first published in 1952 with the purpose of practically guiding individuals to personal freedom. But I have found it incredibly applicable to finding freedom in your career – and it’s as relevant today as it’s ever been. Here’s a quick look at the agreements Ruiz identified.
- Be Impeccable With Your Word.
This is about integrity and speaking your truth. Avoid speaking negatively about others or yourself. While it may seem popular in the moment, there is little gained by gossiping about co-workers or bosses. Making someone else appear inferior, mocking yourself, or simply criticizing your manager during lunch with a work friend only makes you look bad. Learning to find a bit of good in all people and all situations is a virtue that will be admired by everyone around you.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Too many times we take lack of approval or someone’s critique of us in the workplace very personally. But here’s the thing: Negative feedback from others is usually about THEM. People react out of their own needs and insecurities. When a coworker dismisses your efforts, or someone doesn’t compliment you after a good presentation – even if you don’t get the job offer you want so badly – don’t be tricked into believing you don’t have value as a professional or person. But I will be the first to admit that this is easier said than done.
- Don’t Make Assumptions.
People too often direct their careers based on assumptions. Just look at how many people in have degrees in areas they don’t work in – they made an assumption about what they thought they wanted to do. Would you say your job description is exactly what you do daily? My assumption is that you would answer no! So before you react about a situation in the workplace, put your assumptions to the side and become a fact-finder first. Ask good questions. Dare to give others the benefit of the doubt. This is one agreement that I’ve seen change lives.
- Always Do Your Best.
This may sound like something your grandpa would tell you as a child, but it’s an essential truth. It means that you must live without any regrets, embracing a willingness to be a constant learner. Even when you think you are good at something – be it interviewing, networking or building your career – ask if you can do it even better.
If you let them, Ruiz’s transforming agreements could possibly transform your career, and even your life. So which agreements will you learn to embrace?