When I formed Alignment, Inc. almost 15 years ago, the word (and concept) of ‘alignment’ was, for the most part, reserved for body shops and chiropractors! Yet, successful leaders and my senior leader/CEO friends LOVED the concept as they said THAT is what distinguishes successful leaders, organizations, cultures, and strategies. Of course, I could not agree more.
To me, the secret to fulfillment, growth, never-ceasing energy, and unbridled passion is alignment – which to me means: when you know for sure that you’re on course, and doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, fulfilling your soul’s intention… when your life is on a course with its purpose. And as I wrote in my first and second books –
“Alignment is when: We love what we do, we are good at it, and most importantly, it is tied to something much greater than ourselves.”
There is simply no substitute for total alignment and congruency within a person or leader.
When our soul’s purpose is in total alignment with our profession – it shows. It is authentic. It is powerful. That is powerful!
Secondly, although I believe that the purest power of alignment ultimately begins (and ends) within an individual, there is also the power of community – which is alignment among and between collections of individuals. This builds strength in an organization, a culture, and ultimately ALIGNMENT to the organization’s market, constituents, and customer base. When I consult with teams, organizations, and companies, those that are in total alignment around a common vision, congruent goals, collaborative metrics and compensation are undisputedly the most successful. Again, look within your own company or organization. When do you see and experience the most success? Do you experience it when the CEO all the way through the individual contributor level is fully aligned around the common vision? Do you experience it when the goals of the various functional groups are aligned with and between each other? Or is it when they are competing for resources, revenue credit, engaged in land grab tactics, or fighting for increased visibility?
We know the answer. It is easy to say and often hard to implement. We get caught up in our personal quests for success, fame, fortune, and status – often at the mercy of the collective community. “Alignment” goes out the window when we are striving for our individual success on the leader board or the collective success of our own division – and we perceive our individual success to fall outside the trajectory for the company. Thus, I believe total alignment within a company – horizontally and vertically – toward a common vision is the secret sauce for collective (and individual) success.
When this happens, we, and how we contribute individually and collectively, are most certainly at our most powerful. So the question is, how do we ‘get there’?
Well… it is a process and there is not a ‘pat answer’ to reveal (or create) alignment. However, there ARE resources that can help!
So – what is the ONE BOOK which I have found helps to build ALIGNMENT amongst others AND within ourselves?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
This book hits the nail EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
What ARE the FOUR AGREEMENTS?
- Make NO ASSUMPTIONS
- Be Impeccable with your word.
- Always do your best.
- Take nothing personally.
We simply need to meet folks where they are… and no, they are not always where you are! Don’t make ASSUMPTIONS! Often, we make assumptions about what someone needs, wants, has done, or will do. Making assumptions can be dangerous AND damaging to a relationship – not to mention a team and/or organization.
In a nutshell: when in doubt – ASK – assume nothing. What do they need? What do they want? What is holding them back? How can you support them and be in service to them? What are we ‘making up’ in our minds (aka: what false assumptions are we making)? Are we being honest with ourselves and others? This approach can be applied in any and all situations. Imagine how a co-worker would respond if rather than pontificating instruction or ‘know it all’ answers, we ASKED for input, perspective, feedback, and creative ideas. That person would feel heard, valued, and appreciated.
This truth is universal. Period.
Don’t take ANYTHING personally. It is seldom about you… and almost always about the other person.
Tell the truth… the whole truth… and nothing but the truth. And yes… lying my omission is as dangerous as lying by commission.
And yes… we always need to do our best. Even if we fall or fail, if we have done our BEST – that is enough. Yet, honestly, do we ALWAYS do our best?
If we heed these four agreements, it is simply amazing what transpires within a team, a group of individuals, and within ourselves. This book has transformed every team I have led since this book came out… and I hold these agreements as a litmus test for myself, my clients, and every team of which I am a part. This book has been a powerful tool as I consult and coach individuals and teams toward ALIGNMENT.