10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea That Can Help Your Business
“10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea” is a short book by Suzi Welch that describes a simple and highly effective notion. The book gives us strategies to make decisions quickly and well in all areas of our life like work, business decisions, parenting, love and friendship.
I tried the strategy of the book in different areas of my life with mixed results. In some areas of my life the results of the application were quite good whereas in others no. In my opinion this books ideas function very well in work and business related decisions.
It´s author, Suzy Welch was an editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. Besides being an author, she is also a television commentator, a business journalist and she writes a column about work/life for “The Oprah Magazine”. The author wrote the bestseller book “Winning” with her famous husband Jack Welch, that was the former CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001.
What is that sharp decision-making strategy that she presents in her book?
It is very simple and it relies on a series of questions. The first step, is to ask to yourself a specific question about a decision you have to make ( if you should accept a job offer, move to another city, marry … whatever… the possibilities are endless). Secondly, you should collect all the information you need to make a proper decision. Thirdly, you considerer how each option will impact your life (and the life of the people around you) in ten minutes, ten months and ten years. You will then be marvelled how it might be difficult to answer the three questions, because if sometimes the answer is obvious, other times it is not obvious at all.
According to Welch, the 10-10-10 strategy “surfaces our unconscious agendas”. Another way to put it is that it makes you acknowledge the short- and long-term perspectives, which can help you with the impulsive actions of the first moments and the fixation with the future.
From my experience, sometimes it exists a trade-off between the short term and the long term perspectives. We can look at the case of having to either say “yes” or no to someone. If in the short term it might seem that the easiest thing to do is say yes, that might lead you to bad consequences in the longer term. On the contrary, if to say “no” is the hardest thing to do in the short term, it might be very good for you in the long-term.
I think Suzy Welch is too optimistic about the results of the strategy. Don´t get me wrong, even though I believe that this strategy is very useful as a decision making tool, I don´t think it can be used all the time. From my point of view, some decisions can´t be solved in such a straightforward way. The reason for that is that there are consequences of certain options that are never clear until the decision is made, even if we take great effort beforehand, thinking carefully about the various possible outcomes, by collecting as much information as possible. Adding to this, one has to be aware that all our decisions are biased either in a large or small scale. Its precisely those prejudices that cloud the real effects that certain options have in your mind.
There is a particular field though, where the 10-10-10 strategy can be very useful : our daily habits. If we make an effort to be honest regarding our daily habits, it is difficult to hide to ourselves the consequence of these. Basically, if we don´t make an effort to change pernitious habits, we will do today what we did yesterday and the day before repeating the same old habits ad eternitum.
I was creative and I did a little exercise based on the idea of the book. But I wasn´t very pleased with the results of what I came to visualize. First, I divided my life in different areas that I consider to be the important ones. I have chosen areas such as family, business, relationship and health. Then I tried to visualize my future by default in 10 minutes, 10 months and in 10 years, in all of those areas. What I mean by “future by default” is the future that is likely to happen if we continue to do the same things over and over again. As I anticipated that I didn´t like the future by default that I was getting in some areas of my life, it became obvious that I needed to take some actions and risk doing some changes. In other words, I needed to get out of my comfort zone a lot more often!
I suggest you to do the following steps:
- Pick a pen and a paper.
- Choose and write on the paper the areas that you consider important in your life.
- Write down in detail the probable future of those areas in the next 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.
I hope you like what you write (your future “by default”) more than I did.
Ivo Dias de Sousa is a Portuguese writer born in Mozambique. Ivo is also a Professor at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, giving courses on information management. Currently, Ivo is interested in using his experience on information management to construct applications (see http://windit-app.com/ ) for smartphones, in collaboration with others. Ivo holds a Master in Statistics and Information Management (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and a Ph.D. in Information Management (Universidade Aberta). Amongst his main interests are information management, psychology of luck and literature.