Four guides of my life

Sunday World - - Hola Mzansi - The Four Agree­ments, , 3

a book by Miguel Ruiz was first brought to my at­ten­tion when I was granted the huge op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­view Oprah Win­frey in 2002.

In the in­ter­view, which be­came more of a mas­ter­class on her life, we cov­ered top­ics far and wide.

We un­packed the life philoso­phies of peo­ple like Dr Martin Luther King Ju­nior, whose writ­ings had set the tone for Win­frey s in­cred­i­ble life, and

’ then she spoke about the pro­found im­pact the book had made on her. You don t walk away from such a

’ pow­er­ful con­ver­sa­tion with­out the mo­ti­va­tion to seek more for your­self. So I got my hands on the book.

I can­not be­gin to de­scribe how these unas­sum­ingly sim­ple guides

“to per­sonal free­dom touched me,

” how they still ring true for me in my daily in­ter­ac­tions. Let me share these learn­ings with you.

Rule 1: Be im­pec­ca­ble with your word In an age where we are com­pul­sively in­ter­act­ing with other peo­ple in one way or the other, it is im­per­a­tive that we be­come good at lis­ten­ing to our in­ner voice, the most hon­est and au­then­tic part of our­selves which al­ways rings true. By do­ing so, and in re­al­is­ing the power of our ut­ter­ances we can show oth­ers that we can be trusted.

When you are hon­est in your in­ter­ac­tions, you don t have to keep

’ a record in your mind of what you said, to whom and when. You lib­er­ate your­self from ex­pos­ing your en­ergy to neg­a­tiv­ity.

Rule 2: Don’t take any­thing per­son­ally The book says the things peo­ple do and say to you are al­most al­ways in­formed by the way they are feel­ing, and by their own ex­pe­ri­ences. It hardly ever has to do with you. Your re­ac­tion to it then makes it about you.

Imag­ine if ev­ery tinge of guilt, or con­fu­sion, or con­tempt you have ever felt at the painful things peo­ple say should il­licit an un­nec­es­sary re­sponse, giv­ing it un­due power. If you were able to keep this prin­ci­ple in mind, you could quite lit­er­ally stay ra­tio­nal and calm, even when things done by oth­ers are un­fair or un­war­ranted.

Rule 3: Don’t make as­sump­tions I learned this les­son when, as a young Miss SA, I heard the unas­sail­able Doreen Mor­ris say these very words to Paul, the driver who of­ten would get me to events late, as­sum­ing this or that. The thing about an as­sump­tion, is that it dis­em­pow­ers ev­ery­one in­volved, by not al­low­ing them to con­firm their po­si­tion.

Rule 4: Al­ways do your best This is my per­sonal favourite: if you have done your best, that is good enough. We are only hu­man, prone to im­per­fec­tion by na­ture. Your best is the stan­dard you should use to de­ter­mine your per­for­mance. Noth­ing more and noth­ing less. Your best is cir­cum­stan­tial, and is there­fore set to change. It is there­fore im­por­tant to never force our­selves to op­er­ate on lev­els be­yond the cir­cum­stances, what s im­por­tant

’ is to keep giv­ing your best.

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