In our last blog we discussed executive coach David Lesser’s approach for helping people to learn about setting boundaries, saying ‘No,’ and strengthening their integrity. Our latest conversation is built on these skills. We discussed the importance of making clear agreements.
Like many of us, my friend Joe’s world is a swirl. He is often stressed out and overwhelmed by his responsibilities, which feel burdensome. I love him dearly but our communication is hampered by slow replies and ambiguity.
Anthony, on the other hand, always seems together and composed. Projects and communication with him seem to be easy and straightforward, while Joe is responsible for a wide range of large projects.
I asked Executive Coach David Lesser to comment on Anthony’s success.
“People don’t make the connection between the degree of order or chaos in their lives and the quality of the agreements they make.”
As we spoke, I came to appreciate the full meaning of this. Pretty much everything around me is the way it is because of an agreement I have made with someone, or with myself. Even little agreements really matter.
David continued. “When a person makes an agreement merely to please others or live up to an ideal of how he should be, chances are he won’t keep it. And it won’t matter enough to him to communicate a change in the agreement if the unforeseen occurs. He will just hope the situation works out on its own, thereby satisfying his obligation to others. But any connection between his agreements and the overwhelming swirl in his own life is completely overlooked.
“These three phases of agreements: making agreements, keeping agreements, and changing agreements when necessary, are all important. Approaching each of these situations with integrity brings order, effectiveness and successful relationships.”
To develop the ability to make clear agreements, David suggested this practice: Everyday for the next week keep a log of how well you made, kept, or changed your agreements, and how well you held people accountable for their agreements to you as well. Even this simple self-observation will shift your habits in a positive direction. Then to check your progress over a period of time, ask somebody you work with to give you feedback about how you are in this area now. Ask them again in one month and then three months down the line.
“Becoming aware of how we make and keep agreements with others,” David concluded, “makes us skillful in making agreements with ourselves. When you know you can trust yourself…that is happiness, that is what makes your leadership easy to follow.”
Please comment below on your experience in this area.
David Lesser is an executive coach in Northern California who mentors CEOs and executives in all aspects of self-development with a focus on coaching people through times of personal and professional transition.