Does this sound to you like a date or game? Most likely, but, 10-10-10 is a tool that Suzy Welch author of a book by the same name, describes as ‘a Life Transforming Idea.’ The full description is 10 Minutes 10 Months 10 Years. Ms Suzy Welch said she had a light bulb moment when she had to travel to Hawaii in February 1996 to deliver a speech to a convention of insurance executives. She was compelled to take her two youngest children of the four children along as she had no other option. She said “I wasn’t living my life. My life was living me’. On the day of the presentation, just at the last moments of her presentation, she sighted her two children at the back of the auditorium, their bodies pressed against the sliding door. She quickly rounded up, picked the children and tried to get away but not without a snide remark from the wife of one of the executives. At that point, she found herself saying, ‘I have to end this craziness’. The experience was the beginning of a journey of discovery and reinvention that she took herself.
The Hawaiian experience taught Suzy Welch the need to start making decisions differently – proactively – by deliberately considering their consequences in the immediate present, near term and distant future. In ten minutes……..ten months……….and distant future. She figured that with this, she would have her own ‘life management tool’. There are other versions of 10-10-10 but executed differently.
So How Does 10-10-10 Work?
The process starts with a question. Pose your dilemma as a question. Examples are: Should I quit my job? Should I pull my son out of his current school for another? Should I stay in a relationship or end it? Should I buy a house?
It is essential to have a definite question, sometimes your question may have layers of distractions, digressions, side issues, sub-issues, but it is better to drill down and determine the issue underneath it all. What are you trying to resolve?
The next stage is data collection. Happily, this part can be conducted in your head, computer, with pen and paper or in conversation with a friend or partner, whatever works for you. The real ‘requirement’ as she emphasises is to be honest and exhaustive in answering the following questions.
What are the consequences of each of my options –
In ten minutes?
In ten months?
In ten years?
The first 10 which is in ten minutes mean ‘right now’ which could be this second, minute, one hour, few days or one week.
The second 10 which is in ten months represents that point in the foreseeable future when the initial reaction to your decision has passed but its consequences continue to play out in ways you can reasonable predict.
The third 10 which is in ten years stands for a time in the future that is far off that its particulars are entirely vague.
10-10-10 could be referring to nine days, fifteen months and twenty years or two hours, six months, and eight years. It is just to suggest time frames along the lines of: in the heat of the moment, somewhat later and when all is said and done.
The last step of the process is analysis. For this stage, you need to take all the information you have just compiled, and compare to your innermost values, your beliefs, goals, dreams, dreams and needs. This part compels you to ask, ‘Knowing what I know about all my options, and their consequences which decision, will best help me create a life of my own making? With this answer, you have your 10-10-10 solution.
Now, let me share one of my favourite of her very many stories in which 10-10-10 is applied. It is ‘Grow or Let Go’. It is about Ms Welch’s assistant, Megan LaMothe who was a very bright Colgate graduate with a degree in math and philosophy. Unfortunately she was also the Amelia Bedelia of assistants, making one blooper after another and redeeming herself only by the graces of her huge heart. One day after Megan had been working for Ms Welch for a year or so, she was standing by her desk when the phone rang. It was Ms Wich’s brilliant friend Nancy Bauer reporting that she has just received tenure at Tufts University. Ms Welch was excited at the news and immediately asked that Megan sends her flowers. About two hours later, Ms Welch’s phone rang, it was the principal of her daughter’s elementary school, a rather uncooperative woman who happens to share first name with her best friend. “I have two dozen yellow roses on my desk, she said dryly, “I can’t imagine why?” Ms Welch cried to herself, “that it” She ran to Megan’s office down the hall, some abusive words then immediately caught herself and scuttled back to her office to pull herself together.
In the short term, she knew Megan will continue to driver her insane but Ms Welch realised that she herself was once like that but she flourished under the mentorship of committed and patient managers. She knew Megan has potentials and might be very well be an improved version of herself in ten months and in ten years; she would be flourishing in the right career. So what did she do? Instead of firing Megan on the spot, she explained to her why she wanted to, and then informed her that she would give her three months of her energy but if the investment does not pay off, then Megan will need to move on.
Ms Welch said at the time of writing her book, Megan was about to graduate from a prestigious business school. She’s still overflowing with goodness and creativity but has become poised, thoughtful, and a complete stickler for details. Every time Megan tells people that Ms Welch is her mentor, Ms Welch says she wants to faint from pride. Megan thought her how to be a better boss.
This story resonates with me. This tool could be applied in many circumstances, while this story is more of a Leadership/Mentorship, it could be used in career, peers, office or domestic staff, home, children and family in general. I use the tool and find it very effective.
Do you know of this tool? If you don’t, would you use it whichever way, do share your thoughts?