04 Jun Because I Said So
“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” don Miguel Ruiz
While the first agreement, be impeccable with your word, is only five words, they are five words that could be researched and practiced for a long, long time. As I sat down to write this blog, I spent an hour looking up the definitions of words, reading about ethics, integrity, and etymology.
What the heck is etymology? According to the online etymology dictionary, “etymologies are not definitions; they’re explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.”
Our key word of the day, impeccable, comes from old Latin: impeccabilis “not liable to sin,” from assimilated form of in- “not, opposite of” (see in- (1)) + pecare “to sin,” of unknown origin.
As I dug a little deeper I found a fascinating twist on the meaning of the word impeccable. The background of the word “sin” comes from Greek and Hebrew and actually originates in archery. To sin literally means to miss a target, to not hit the mark you set.
So being impeccable is to not miss the mark. But think about the sport of archery. Would you expect to pick up a bow for the first time and hit the target perfectly with your arrow? Even masters sometimes miss the mark.
One of don Miguel’s favorite words is “practice.” It can help us in living the four agreements to put the word practice in front of each of them:
Practice being impeccable with your word
Practice don’t taking anything personally
Practice not making assumptions
Practice doing your best
So how do you practice being impeccable with your word? Just like archery; pick up your bow and aim. Not once. A million times. Sometimes you will hit the target. But most of the time you will be learning from not hitting the target, adjusting, trying again. And when you dedicate yourself to your practice, you will gain skill.
Many of us are habituated to using our word carelessly; to not really aiming before we speak. We say we will do something when we really don’t have the time or the energy. We have big plans to eat right, exercise daily, be impeccable with your word or not take anything personally. But since we don’t really have a specific clear focus and a willingness to practice, we miss the mark.
What if you made one commitment and followed through with it, no matter what? That would be good practice. I love the idea of committing to something 100 percent, and writing my down the action that I am going to do, no matter what. This is an example of using our word as a laser locked onto its target.
Alex Sheen is the founder of an organization that helps people hit their verbal mark. It is also changing the world, one person at a time. His non-profit organization, “because I said I would” has a simple mission: A promise made a promise kept. “Because I said I would is a social movement and nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering humanity through promises make and kept.” To date they have distributed over 1,275,000 promise cards to more than 105 different countries.
As Alex writes on his website, it all started with the death of his father.
“My dad was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer on July 4th, 2011. The disease spread. On September 4th, 2012 my father passed away. Like any son, I want to remember the best of my father, but he was nothing particularly press worthy. He wasn’t an award winning author. He never met the President. He was no war hero. But what my dad did do was keep a promise. If he said he was going to do it, it would certainly be done. Too often we make promises, little and big, that we do not honor. It becomes easy to say “I’ll get to it” or “tomorrow.” I want to remember my Dad and the promises he kept. I want to help others remember their commitments. I handed out promise cards for the first time at his funeral.”
Promise cards are simple business cards with the words “because I said I would” written at the bottom. You write your promise on the card, and then you follow through.
Each time you keep a promise, you commit to pulling back your bow and hitting your mark. Not matter what. So whatever words you put on a promise card are words you will follow up on, no matter what. And that is great practice for being impeccable.
To learn more about the world-wide impact of doing something because you said so and being impeccable with your word, go to the because I said so social impact page. Mathew Cordle raised awareness worldwide about the dangers of drinking and driving by confessing in a video that went viral about hitting and killing a man. Founder Alex Sheen walked across Ohio to raise awareness of victims of sexual abuse. One person consciously praises one person a day. Why? Because they committed to their promise on a little 3.5 by 2 inch card.
You can learn more about how to order or download your own promise cards too.
Hit your mark! And if you miss, adjust your aim, and try again.
Heather Ash’s apprenticeship with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, began in 1994, and she now teaches with the Ruiz family. She is the author of The Toltec Path of Transformation and founder of Toci, The Toltec Center of Creative Intent. www.toci.org