Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Four Agreements

Books like Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” (A Toltec Wisdom Book) usually do not make my list of “must reads”. I am not a fan of New Age philosophy and most of it rubs my Christian faith the wrong way. But occasionally something New Age comes along that is worthwhile. The Four Agreements has been around for over a decade and Amazon offers used paperback copies for less than $5. (Buy used, recycle...the New Agers will appreciate it.) Speaking seriously, I do think Ruiz’s Four Agreements make a great Code of Conduct for any business or individual.

Agreement 1:
Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

In the headhunting business we frequently use the acronym TAL to explain why something has gone wrong on a search assignment. TAL…They All Lie. Sadly, we live in a world where the truth is hard to come by. Most people, even those who pride themselves on being truthful, have no qualms about shading the truth or withholding important information. And, of course, there are those who will just outright lie.

It is estimated that 20-30% of people lie on their resumes. These include the “little white lies” people use to make their resumes look better, such as false claims of accomplishment or embellishing the scope of their duties and responsibilities. Some are pretty big lies, such as leaving off employers or falsifying dates of employment. Some are not really lies in fact, but lies in effect. I love it when someone shows their education something like this:

The Ohio State University 1990-1994
Fisher College of Business – Logistics

When the truth is they did not earn a degree. They did attend The Ohio State University off and on from 1990-1994 and did end up as a Logistics major, but are at least 45 hours from having a degree.

It’s not just about candidates who lie on their resumes. Some employers don’t tell the real truth about job opportunities. Some headhunters don’t tell the real truth about job opportunities (or the employers who are offering the opportunity). References don’t want to tell the whole truth about candidates. Candidates and employers fudge on compensation (especially bonus) information.
Candidates say they would never accept a counter offer, then do. Employers say they have no one else being considered for the position, then promote internally. Headhunters, knowingly or unknowingly become the conduit for candidate lies and employer lies. Pretty soon, we are all saying TAL and we end up grading ourselves and each other on the liars’ curve. The saddest part is that we just accept it as the way things are.

Speak With Integrity. Why can’t we accept that?

Next week Agreement 2.

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