The Four Agreements: The Start of a Journey

Published on March 20th, 2011

This is the start on what I plan on being a 4th month series on my experience with the 4 agreements by Miguel Ruiz. At this time I'm planning on a post a day in order to share my experience and (hopefully) offer some insights and inspiration along the journey. I believe by committing to this publicly I can better ensure that I stay on the wagon and complete this journey. My goal has many facets: 1) I want to prove I still have the discipline that I remember having as a varsity athlete. 2) I want to strengthen my self-image. 3) I want to have a better relationship with everyone, including and most especially my wife Emily.

The 3 Levels of Knowing

In the Hearts that See series by Larry Napier and Dr. Alex Lloyd (unfortunately no longer available on the web), Larry outlined what he sees as the 3 levels of knowing.

  1. Familiarity: "I heard you and know generally what you're talking about."
  2. Intellectual Memorization: "I've read everything about this and can recite entire passages on the topic."
  3. Grok: "I know this from an experiential reality, having lived and breathed it."


An example: If I were to run and operate a business, I would first have to learn the very basics. I'd have to be familiar with the concepts of business such as payroll, HR, and a basic business plan. At the next level of knowing, I would have read every book on the subject, talked to every person I know, and would have a formalized plan to move forward. I could tell you in great detail a lot of information I have read, but nothing that I have personally experienced. That changes in level 3 when the business actually begins operation. Even if I'm not an expert or even good at what I'm doing, there is a certain level of knowledge that I would have over others that have never run a business. I would have actually experienced a customer complaining; experienced a business loss; experienced a new partnership with another company.

Intellectual Knowledge: My Typical Stopping Point

I'm a jack-of-all-trades kinda guy, which is great for intellectually knowing about a lot of things. But I often don't stick with one thing long enough to truly dive in and experience it at the level I know I can if I stuck with it. And I want to get there, because that is where the rewards are the greatest. It's one thing to intellectually know how to play a guitar or write a book. It's an entirely different experience to get up on stage and rock out or have carry your latest work.

Amateur archtypes like myself rarely do more than dabble in knowing at an experiential level, but my goal of this journey is to break that cycle, particularly in an area that is truly important to me.

The Importance of 30 Days

I subscribe to an idea put out by Maxwell Maltz (Psycho Cybernetics), Jack Canfield (Effortless Success), and many other teachers: in order to truly lock in a new belief, habit, or change in ones self image, one has to stick with it for 30 consecutive days without fail. In doing so, one builds momentum, self-discipline, and track record of sticking to their guns when bumps in the road appear.

My 30 Day Goal: The Four Agreements

Communication is such a critical skill in this world of exploding information, contracting free time, and a digital record that lasts into perpetuity. Also, I've been feeling a lot of self-limiting beliefs beginning to creep back into my psyche after having been eliminated for so many years; so the four agreements seems like a perfect place to focus my personal development efforts rather than spreading myself thin trying to do everything (and thus not achieving the experiential knowledge that I would like to internalize). In a nutshell, the agreements are as follows:

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

As the Author states, these are not difficult concepts to learn intellectually. They are, however, not necessarily easy to stick to because of our unconscious programming and inherited belief systems are sometimes in direct opposition to these agreements.

Because I'm extra ambitious, my goal is to take 30 days for each agreement rather than for the entire book in general. That's a grand total of 4 months, no easy feat for someone, like myself, who has many different interests and wants to do it all.


I'm planning on sharing my progress by posting once a day. My hope is that it inspires you or helps give you additional insight into the book beyond what the Author has already provided (and I'm in how way trying to compete with the fantastic job he did). My other hope is that in writing this series publicly and engaging with some readers, it helps me stick with this the entire 4 months and achieve the goal at hand.

Please feel free to share with me as well. I always like to find and talk to fellow travelers.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.