The Four Agreements

The inspiration from this post comes from Super Bowl LV played on February 7, 2021. Or rather, from the background of the winning QB, Tom Brady who was completing his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. I’ve always been fascinated by the arc of Brady’s career. While many argue he has to be in the conversation for the GOAT, and others that he has been blessed with great owners, coaches, and teammates, most don’t remember his entre into the NFL.

Brady was drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 draft and was the 7th QB taken and 199th pick overall. There have been 308 QBs that have run the 40 in an NFL combine since his draft – and only 3 have run it slower than he did. So whether you like him or not, think he is the GOAT or not, he clearly has worked hard at being a success in his chosen career. And early in his career, Brady read a book titled The Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is short, but Brady claims to read it every couple of years and has indicated it has been a mantra for his life, having helped him immensely both personally and professionally.

The agreements themselves are simple: (1) Be impeccable with your word (2) Don’t take anything personally (3) Don’t make assumptions and (4) Always do your best. The book encourages us to work on ourselves and our thinking in these areas as a way to improve how we feel about ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we tackle our tasks and our world on a daily basis. So how can these concepts be applied to business? To investing in or operating a company? I recently offered the following in an internal memo to a company I am involved with:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word  Our customers and teammates expect each of us to do our jobs. To keep our word. Our customers want to place an order and then forget about it. It’s a great way to build trust with ourself, and with one another. If we each strive to do so, we can continue to succeed.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally  We all occasionally make mistakes. And sometimes those around us (either our teammates or our customers) are just having a bad day. Mistakes are to be learned from and hopefully not repeated, and if we can learn to not assume others questionable behaviors are directed at us, we can continue to succeed.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions  None of us are mind readers. If you have a question, or if a customer or teammate has given you vague direction – or no direction – ask questions. By asking questions to clarify objectives and avoid mistakes, we can continue to succeed. Better to ask than to have to redo.
  4. Always Do Your Best  This one seems obvious. But the book reminds us this strongly intersects with the above agreements and can help quiet our internal judge. It also reminds us it is impossible to be “on” or perfect 100% of the time. We all occasionally stray, or are tired, or frustrated. But if we try to redirect and remind ourselves to do our best in the moment for ourselves, for our teammates and our customers, we can continue to succeed. Being accountable is the only way we can win as a team.

Each of you, and each of your roles, play an important part in our success as a team. And if we can keep these agreements in mind, we can continue to succeed.

Simply put, if it’s good enough for an athlete some consider the GOAT at one of the most challenging positions in football to succeed at over an extended period of time, maybe there’s something we can all take learn from those agreements.