Bonus POD: The Fourth Agreement
The fourth agreement is about the action of the first three: Always do your best.
DMR goes on: “Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” Source: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
I want you to consider these questions and use them to inspire your writing:
Do you consistently do your best? In what areas of your life do you consistently not do your best? In what areas are you well-practiced at bringing your A-game?
Do you beat yourself up for imperfections at times when you could do better? Or are you compassionate with yourself, as you journey along this path?
How many precious moments of second-guessing and rumination might you have back in your life if you make the commitment to always do your best moving forward?
Is anything stopping you from making a commitment to either the 4th or the 4.5th Agreement, starting now?
I like to think that I consistently do my best, and maybe more recently I have been making that concerted effort. If I am really honest with myself, the area of my life where I have consistently not done my best is my family. I am so grateful for my husband and children but I know it is only by the grace of God that we have survived and thrived because when my children were growing up, my family didn’t get my best they got what was left, and that wasn’t much. While I started making changes almost a decade ago, I have only recently made the move to really put my family first.
My husband couldn’t even schedule time with me as our children were growing up because I put every thing else before him – including work, church, volunteering, commitments to my extended family, our children. My children are probably one of few children whose school paperwork for pick-up said “Anyone with a Children’s Division (Child protective services) badge.” In part it was due to not living close to family and dad working an hour away. They had an adopted grandma from church that was always good to pick them up in a crunch or when I knew I was working late. Too many times it wasn’t a crunch but a mom forgot and she’s out in the field and no one can reach her, so a coworker in the office would go pick them up. We can joke about it now, but I didn’t realize the impact that had on my children, especially my youngest.
My A-game, I reserved my best for work. I learned very early on in my work life that the A-game always goes there. My first job was for my mother, and at the time I was very rebellious. I knew that regardless of how tired or under the influence I might have been, if I didn’t show up with my A-game my social life would be grounded. I learned to push through the tough days when I lost friends to car accidents and suicides because emotional days were not part of my mother’s expectations.
There was a time early in my career that I couldn’t bring my A-game. It wasn’t for lack of trying but I had too much work responsibility for the number of hours in the month. I put it on paper and said, “If I can’t do it all, I won’t do it at all.” I thought it would be better to quit than to not give the A-game. I didn’t quit, but I walked out that day. I needed a different perspective.
After that time, I let people know in advance “If you ever don’t think I am bringing my A-game, let me know I will walk away. The people I serve deserve my best.” And I truly mean that. Sometimes I recognize I am not giving my best and I will walk away. Once, I missed it completely. The people in my life were not willing to call me on what I gave them permission to speak. Even though I offered in my struggle, I wasn’t dealt with honestly.
I realize that the early shaping of who got my best was greatly influenced by my parents. I love them both dearly, but some lessons are meant to be unlearned. Work got the best, everyone else got the rest. I realized as an adult (as I was just a child myself when I was raising my children) that my priorities were really off. I learned that while I should do my best at whatever I put my hand to, that my best should also line up with what I say my priorities are. God gets my best, then my husband (Still working on it), then my children and grandchildren, then my extended family, work, church and volunteering. I have learned it is a daily practice to keep things in the right priority.
Understand, I am not beating myself up about my imperfections as a wife or parent. I spent some time dealing with the shame and seeking forgiveness from my husband and my children. I am just being honest. Looking back I am compassionate with myself in my failures. Maybe I know I was doing the best I knew how at the time. I try to help others not make the same mistakes if they can help it.
I know that I won’t always get it perfect, but I can say I will do my best. Sometimes that best will shine. Other days the best I have to offer is just showing up. When I realize I haven’t given my best, I can reflect, apologize, forgive myself, move forward and learn from my mistakes. I can give myself grace because God gave me grace and He covers when my best isn’t enough.
This post is prompted by
Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.