• Jackie Capers-Brown

The Power of Our Agreements

In the first Get Unstuck Now Masterclass that I conducted four years ago, I can still remember the impact the story that I'm about to share with you and the discussion that took place afterwards with participants in the program.

The story and discussion that took place in that session of the masterclass was both inspiring and empowering for the participants of that first masterclass and for me as the facilitator and coach. It was a breakthrough moment for many of the participants which provided me with concrete evidence of the impact the book and the training could have on the lives of people.

This experience and those that followed in the various masterclass programs I've conducted since then reminds me of the importance of personal growth and how it influences the quality of our life and the success we achieve.

Yes, I knew this from my own life and the vantage point of being a corporate manager and executive leader who was extremely passionate about training team members to be all they could be where they are so that it would create space for their greatness to shine forth and help them to see themselves from a more expansive point of view.

And yet, it was something special to witness how information that I knew could create shifts in people's mental attitudes that didn't work with me and lead them to be proactive towards taking action to make positive progress in their lives.

The Case for Disrupting Your Assumptions

The story that I shared was from the book, Find Your Courage by Margie Warrell. In the book, she tells a story of a backpacking trip she took in her early 20s through Thailand. Her journey allowed her to spend time with many of the locals. One day, she noticed “the large elephants responsible for carrying lumber and transporting people through the jungle always stayed close by.” When she inquired about why they didn’t wander off, she was given the following explanation. “When an elephant is born, a chain is put around its leg tethering it to a small tree planted nearby to keep the animal from roaming. Because it is young and not yet very strong, it is unable to break the chain. However, as the years pass and the elephant grow it continues to live with the assumptions that are unable to move more than a few feet from the tree. In fact, though, the chain is no longer even attached to the tree, and all that is on the elephant is a thin metal bracelet. So, there you have a massive elephant, unaware that it is capable of traveling so much farther than in a circle a few feet from the tree to which it was tethered as a baby and living a much more confined existence than it necessarily has to live.”

While doing research for my Get Unstuck Now book, I came across and read the book The Law of Agreements by Tony Burroughs. In the book, Burroughs writes, " when we stop to consider that every belief system we have exists only because we agree on it. Indeed, our agreements are the building blocks of our realities; they are the very foundation upon which our beliefs are built. Not one belief, large or small would exist for long without our agreement."

He goes on to point out, " Your agreement is your point of power, and you can add to or weaken any idea or commonly held belief simply by making a choice. We have within us, in each moment of our lives, the ability to discern-to-decide whether something is working for us or not-and to choose to agree with it and make it stronger or to say, "Hey, I don't think this is working for my highest good."

During my Get Unstuck Now Masterclass, I would share this story about the elephant and the insights from Tony Burroughs's book The Law of Agreement. I would then proceed to facilitate the discussion starting with the use of self-inquiry questions I would ask each participant to answer within an allotted time. Once I was finished asking the questions and they had answered the questions, we would enter into a discussion about their answers to the questions and the insights they gained from that particular training session. The program was conducted over a 6 week period of time.

The Power of Your Agreements Self-Inquiry Questions

I am sharing the following self-inquiry questions with the intention that you are able to identify the agreements that are working for your greater good and those that are not and what you can do next.

  1. In what areas of your life are you experiencing success? What are the agreements (beliefs and ideas you have bought into) that has helped you to maintain the mindset and behaviors necessary to achieve success in these areas of your life?

  2. In what areas of your life are you struggling to create positive progress? What are the agreements (beliefs and ideas you have bought into) that are influencing your mindset and behaviors towards these areas in your life?

  3. In your past, what agreements (beliefs and ideas that you bought into) influenced you to demonstrate self-sabotaging behavior that prevented you from achieving your goals?

  4. In your past, what agreements (beliefs and ideas that you bought into) inspired and motivated you to do what ever it would take to accomplish your goals?

  5. Identify the character traits and self-leadership skills that empowered you to achieve past goals. What were some common agreements you made with yourself to be successful?

  6. Identify the character traits and self-leadership habits and skills you need to demonstrate to create positive progress in an area of life where you are struggling.

  7. Are the agreements influencing the lack of positive progress in the area of life that you are struggling with based on facts (meaning what you believe is true or false, objective, beyond dispute and verifiable), or are they based on opinion ( an observation rather than an objective perspective of reality, valid or invalid based on the perspective of the opinion holder, can be found to be invalid if there is lack of factual evidence to support its validity.}

Personally, while I was writing my book Get Unstuck Now and facilitating small group masterclass after it was published, I was able to identify agreements that were preventing me from going full out to share the body of work in the book with larger audiences.

When I invested in a coach shortly thereafter, I was told something that I had heard many times but somehow because of the struggle I was having promoting the book and masterclass it really hit home. I was reminded of this truth: "Jackie, common knowledge isn't common practice."

Because I was sharing what seemed to be common knowledge on the Internet, I was assuming that this somehow reduced the value of the work that I was doing. It wasn't. When I was shown books by several people who had written s book on a similar topic, I was reminded of how each author wrote her or his book from their vantage point on the subject matter. Their vantage point is based on the totality of their life experiences which are totally unique to them.

In other words, just because someone is doing something similar to you and I, they can't bring the same experiences and perspectives, insights and wisdom that we can because each of our paths in life are unique to our individual experiences.

If you and I were sitting down at your neighborhood Starbucks having a cup of coffer as we discussed the insights shared in this article, and you told me, " I know this already." I would have to kindly respond to you, "What is the evidence in your life that demonstrates you know this already?"

You see what I have learned from my corporate career, team members, coaches and coaching and mastermind clients over the years is that knowledge in and of itself does not create the understanding necessary for information to be a powerful force for the creation of positive progress.

It is only when we take action on what we know that we're able to see the relevance of the information towards a problem or project in our lives. In this way, our learning and understanding deepens as we are able to apply it towards a useful purpose.

In my training and coaching, I take the position that any information that I share must be followed up with some form of engagement during the training and coaching to increase the likelihood that those I serve have a grasp of the concepts and how they are relevant to their success.

From my personal and professional experience, learning by doing is the way of the future. Yes, we have to get information and understanding, but it is just as important that we are able to make the connection to what we are learning to the realities in our life if we are going to meet any moment of challenge/opportunity with clarity and success.

In Conclusion

When we begin to identify the agreements we have toward ourselves, other people and the world, we can use our freedom to choose if any of our agreements are serving our greater good or not.

Taking the time to reflect on our agreements helps us to deepen our understanding of ourselves, increases our self-awareness which can influence us to change those agreements that we recognize are not in our best interest.

Your agreements are shaping the story of your life. Make sure they reflect what you want your legacy to be in the minds and hearts of those you interact with now and in the future.

Just because we know something doesn't mean we understand the relevance of the information we learn in our lives. I'm sure you have learned information in school that didn't seem to have any relevance to you at the time only to discover on your path of adulting that had you understood the relevance of the subject matter, you would have been able to apply it in your life in an effective manner. By the way, this happens to most of us.

The fact is: it's not until we take action on what we know that we deepen our understanding on how the information is relevant to our ability to succeed.

When we learn by doing it increases our personal effectiveness and success.

What am I missing here? Is it more advantageous for us to start with a problem, project or the application of information to deepen our understanding and increase the application of new knowledge towards a specific aim? I would like to hear your thoughts. Share them below in the comment section or on my Facebook business page.

P.S. if you are interested in participating in a "learn by doing" personal development workshop designed to help you connect to your brilliance and create a plan of action aligned with overcoming a current challenge or taking action to position yourself for the next level in your life or career, join me at my upcoming Go Be Great "Reset" Workshop. You can find out more and register here.