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January 25, 2019

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Taking Impeccable Agreements to the Next Level

Let's review the basics of being impeccable around agreements.

We are impeccable when we:

  1. Make clear agreements for which we have a Whole Body YES
  2. Keep 90% of our agreements
  3. Renegotiate agreements bilaterally (with the others with whom we’ve made the agreement, as opposed to unilaterally announcing we aren’t going to keep the agreement)
  4. Clean up broken agreements by taking 100% responsibility without explaining or justifying

When we first explore being impeccable with our agreements we often—from below the line—turn agreements into rules, laws, and shoulds. Then when we don’t keep an agreement we feel guilt and/or shame, and say, “I’m sorry,” followed by an excuse or explanation. This is often where we start in this journey towards impeccability.

But an agreement is not a should, have-to or rule; it's an act of aligning where we are with what we want most in a relationship.  

We start to see that being impeccable gives us more energy, and that being sloppy with agreements depletes our energy both individually and collectively. We value impeccability because we want to experience full aliveness. When we make ourselves and others bad or wrong for not keeping agreements, we move further away from aliveness and more into relational drama.

When we break an agreement from a place of understanding that impeccable agreements = aliveness, we don’t make ourselves or others wrong or bad. We come from a place of curiosity and openness to learning. We ask questions like:  

  • How did I create this outcome?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • How is this revealing an unconscious commitment that I can own?
  • Do I have a whole body Yes?
  • How am I making keeping agreements “hard?”

All of this learning can be fun and easy, even playful.

Also, since many agreements involve others, coming from curiosity about any effect of your lack of impeccability (including making agreements without a Whole Body Yes) could have on the relationship or the group. Again, this can be done from above the line, from curiosity and from 100% responsibility without blaming yourself or others. You can check in with others and see how they’re experiencing the integrity breach.

Here’s an example of how a leader in a CLG small group cleared up a broken agreement he made to meditate everyday...

Fact: I didn’t meditate on Tuesday. I made an agreement to meditate every day.
: I screwed up, I’m a fuck-up around this stuff and you all are complicit because I told you this was hard for me. I want to make up stories about “why” it’s hard for me. Part of me wants to apologize and say “I’m sorry” and it feels like doing penance as though I did something “to you.”
(about breaking my agreement): sadness, anger, fear, joy.
: To let you know me, to let you see in-to-me. To get back into integrity with myself and with you and to see if this breech brings up anything for any of you.    

The act of cleaning up the broken agreement reliably increases aliveness and restores connection in the group. Teams that have lots of sloppy/broken agreements are simply not as alive, aligned and empowered as they could be.

Another example of impeccability = aliveness

This comes from the same CLG small group. One member was planning to renegotiate his agreement to post an update to the group once a week. He began by saying to the group, “I won’t post next week because I’ll be at an event that will be all consuming.”

My feedback to him:

When you say “I won’t post next week because I’ll be at an event that will be all consuming” I notice I feel a constriction. First off, you don’t know the future, none of us does. In my experience whenever we promise the future it is quite possibly an I.O.U. for breaking an agreement. Of course, it is rational to believe that you will not post next week AND you don’t know. What you are doing here is renegotiating your agreement (which is one of the four practices of being impeccable with agreements). It is a renegotiation as opposed to a clean up because you have not broken the agreement and you are letting us know as soon as you imagine there is a possibility of not keeping the agreement.

A clean renegotiation sounds like this to me: “I would like to renegotiate my agreement to post once a week in Slack. Next week I plan (anything in the future is a plan until it is a present tense reality) to be at an event and when I think about being there I notice I don’t have a whole body yes (another key to being in integrity is to only agree to what you have a whole body yes to) to post with this group. I’m making up a story that I will have limited internet access and that the event will be all consuming. These are stories and like all stories, they are made up. What is true is that I don’t want to agree to post next week. I want to check with all of you and see if this creates any experience/response in any of you?”

Notice that this is far less arguable and doesn’t use justification or explanation (like “limited internet” and “all consuming”). It just states what is true for you. In my experience this is very powerful and it invites me to have my experience and be in relationship with you around your choice and my response.

How is your aliveness?

A great question to explore regularly is, “How is my aliveness?” If your answer is anything less than a resounding affirmation of aliveness, a great place to find the energy leak is with your agreements.

Integrity Inventory

Download this handout and go through the Agreements quadrant to uncover where you may be out of integrity with agreements.

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