The Four Agreements


The Four Agreements

One of my colleagues has a cheat sheet of The Four Agreements up by her desk.   The Four Agreements are a reminder to find your own integrity, self-love, and peace.  The idea is to trade up from limiting beliefs to agreements that support and empower your personal freedom.

Here are the Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

The Four Agreements are from the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by don Miguel Ruiz.   Here is a summary of each agreement, according to don Miquel Ruiz:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
    Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always Do Your Best.
    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

don Miguel Ruiz’s son don Jose Ruiz added a fifth agreement, with his book, The Fifth Agreement:: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery.   The fifth agreement is:  Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen.  The message is to see the truth, to recover your authenticity, and to change the message you deliver not only to yourself, but to everyone around you.

The agreements are simple.  Your results can be profound.


  1. Hi JD, I can agree with all the four agreements. I can also disagree with three of them.

    #2. Take everything personally. That is, you can respond to what occurs. If I don’t take anything personally why would I need to change. I think putting a distance between ourselves and others can be extremely helpful and also dangerous. So I think this is poorly put.

    #3. Do Make Assumptions (consciously). I really don’t know how it would be possible to have no assumptions. I think it is better to say that we can become aware of our assumptions.

    #4. Do your Worst. If something is worth doing it is worth doing badly. It is ok to learn. And sometimes near enough is good enough. Perfectionism can curse anything you achieve.

    I am aware that these things may be saying the same things that Miguel meant and so maybe I am just being picky about words.

  2. I continue to be amazed at your prodigious output of high quality, thought provoking content and books – that I ahve never heard of.


    I can’t keep up!

    However, I would add that I am a big fan of John Wooden’s two sets of 3 rules for his player

    Never Lie, Cheat, Steal
    Don’t Whine, Complain, Make Excuses.

    I violate some of them routinely though – even though the spirit is willing.

    Hahahah Good stuff JD. Appreciate it

  3. @ Evan — I know what you mean. I can agree and disagree too.

    In the spirit of de Bono, here’s my take:

    On #2, it’s not always all about you, but that does not mean give up personal accountability. If you don’t like what you’re getting, change your approach.

    On #3, test your assumptions. More precisely, don’t base important decisions on untested assumptions. When you attempt to test your assumptions, a good thing happens. You identify what they are.

    On #4, give it your best shot. Your best may produce lousy results. That’s O.K. The point isn’t to be perfect or to be THE best. The point is to embrace the challenge, make the most of the experience, and fail forward.

    Thank you for raising the bar of this post.

    @ Steve — I hate to say that the best is yet to come, but I know that it is (because it’s sitting on my hard-drive, brewing in the background 😉

    I also thought of Wooden when I read The Four Agreements. Wooden’s secret to happiness was peace of mind. His secret to peace of mind was always do your best. His point was that if he knew he gave his best, then he had no regrets. He made *best* a reletive, and personal thing. There’s a world of difference between THE best and YOUR best.

    Thanks for stopping by and I’m looking forward to how you’ll change the world next.

  4. I’d take issue with 2 and 3 because they are negatives and rephrase them this way:

    New 2: Assume everyone’s intentions are good no matter how you happen to experience them

    New 3: The past is not the future. It’s not even the present. Who you are and will be and are doing and will do is what you are creating right now.

  5. @ Miriam — Along the lines of #2, I always liked the saying, “They’re doing their best, with the resources they’ve got.”

    I really like “The past is not the future.” It’s simple, precise, and empowering.

  6. J.D.

    These are really nice and feel very congruent for me. I do think it would be a mistake to never take anything personally. Sometimes others are a mirror for us and it’s good to look, acknowledge our own mistakes or shortcoming, repair, and move forward. Nevertheless, the advice to not be overly sensitive is spot out. Thanks for this concise summary.

  7. @ Sandra — I’ve always liked the mirror metaphor.

    Maybe an empowering statement is — you are not your behavior, and changing your behavior, changes your results.

    I think lenses are a powerful thing and for me, I do like precision and accuracy … so my reality check would be along the lines of exploring whether it’s the person’s behaviors, the situation, the drivers, or what I’m saying, thinking, or doing.

  8. Hi JD –
    I love this book, and like your colleague I used to keep a copy at work…and gave a cheatsheet to people on my team. I think the ‘don’t take anything personally’ and ‘don’t make assumptions’ can be a game changer in business. But what is up with that fifth agreement? I hadn’t heard of the newer book, and I’m not sure I like the idea of ‘be skeptical.’ hmmmm

  9. Hi JD,

    Never heard of these before. I’ve struggled with number 2 all my life but am getting better. Printing something out or writing it down and popping it on a wall somewhere you’ll see it daily is so powerful. I love that idea.

    I’m not too bad with number three. I’m always curious so I ask a lot of questions which probably seem stupid but aren’t to me. I always want to get to the bottom of things, find out what motivates people and what makes them tick. Sometimes I have to stop myself because some people find personal questions rude. That seems silly to me. Why are people embarassed/reluctant to say how old they are? I just don’t get that. How can we relate to people if we can’t share small insignificant details like that?

    I’d like to post these on my wall too. They’d be a great talking point and reminder for the whole family and hopefully set my kids off on the right path from the beginning:)

  10. @ Kathy — I think “Be curious” and “Have a wondering mind” would do more justice … as well as “Stay true to you.”

    @ Annabel — It sounds like the truth seeker in you is strong.

    The more I fell for false advertisements, the more I became a truth seeker, too. I became determined to learn critical thinking skills and language precision to cut to the chase and see through smoke and mirrors.

  11. Good day JD,

    I must say mate, I have heard great things about this book. It’s definitely on my list of books to read this year. I love the Agreements simplified that you shared here. They further let me know that I really need to grab my copy, ASAP! I have unknowingly begun practicing these agreements in my life, and I believe with a greater understanding, I will be better equipped in allowing them to make a greater impact than they already have brought me thus far. Thanks for sharing these enlightening insights with us, and further confirming the need for me to make this apart of my reading collection.

  12. JD, first time reader, first time caller.

    I came across you via Lifehacker’s re-post of the “Six Filters for Truth” method. As a person who is ever obsessed with knowing things but also trying to mold myself into a better person, I fall on my face every other chance I get.

    For those people who feel the need to re-write these little anecdotes to suit your own preferences: go for it. It is, after all, your path to walk. If the signs are confusing, take a brief jaunt down the tangent bunny trail and if you like what you see, keep going. If you don’t, turn around.

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