As the old adage goes, good (or big) things come in small packages. Being an avid reader, I’ve noticed that this is often especially true when it comes to books. And one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read consists of a concise 135 very small pages – The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Now I am sure I am not the only person in the meetings industry to have read this inspirational little gem. Just recently, I decided to pick it up again to give myself a refresher course in its four simple lessons. Ruiz calls these lessons the “Four Agreements” and upon additional examination, I found that each of these agreements has particular relevance to an industry known to be stressful, ultra competitive and often times unfair.
While I don’t intend to play spoiler for those who have not yet read the book, I think a brief synopsis of each of the four agreements and how they can be applied to the meetings industry may spark some inspiration and ideas. So without further ado, and courtesy, of course, to Don Miguel Ruiz, here are the Four Agreements for Meeting Planners:
The First Agreement: Always be impeccable with your word.
As Ruiz points out, being impeccable in the strictest sense means being without sin or fault. Its origins come from “missing the mark.” Being impeccable with your word means speaking the truth about yourself and about others. In this industry, as well as any others, you are only as good as your word. This is a concept which most people understand when it comes to avoiding slamming the competition or a particularly difficult past client. But being impeccable with your word also means being truthful and honest when speaking about or to yourself. I guess what we are talking about here is integrity and honesty. Delivering on what you have promised is essential in this business. But being kind to yourself and not beating yourself up after some unexpected challenges have knocked you down is an equally important component of being impeccable with your word. In short, always speak well (but truthfully and without malice) of others and yourself.
The Second Agreement: Don’t take anything personally.
This is a biggie, especially in terms of sales rejection. While most of us realize that, intellectually at least, business is just business, rejection can be devastating to anyone involved in sales or marketing. Remembering not to take anything personally is critical if you are going to successfully separate business from emotion. If someone does not require your services, attaching an unnecessary personal component to their decision not to hire you should not deter you from getting back out there. As Ruiz says, taking things personally grows out of our own sense of personal importance and selfishness. At the end of the day, as long as we remember it is not about us but about the client and their world, not taking things personally becomes a little easier every day.
The Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions.
Anyone who has ever made an assumption about a room or catering charge only to face the harsh reality of an enormous bill after the event can attest to the importance of this agreement. Simply put: always double check every detail and back up any assumptions you have made with research. But as a successful meeting planner, you already knew that.
The Fourth Agreement: Always do your best.
This may sound like common sense advice dispensed by a kindergarten teacher or Little League coach. But when it comes down to it, if you always give your best effort, guilt becomes a thing of the past, clients will be universally happy with your work and your business or career will flourish. And that is something we can all agree is a good thing.