It’s a galvanizer when you’re hesitant and a cautionary note when you’re feeling reckless.   It gives purpose to your decisions and weight to your explanations.  It’s incredibly simple and yet limitlessly versatile.  And therein lies its power.  This is a tool for everyone, whether you’re 19 or 91; whether you’re a student, a stay home mom, an artist entrepreneur or corporate executive.

Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 concept can be most cleanly described as a decision making tool.  Her title and catch phrase “10-10-10” acts as a symbol and reminder to consider the short, medium and long term impact of our decisions. (The three ‘10’s remind us to think through the impact of a decision over the next 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years)  The process is quite straight forward:  Starts with a single question.  Collect and analyze the facts. Then weigh those facts against your values to determine the best course of action.

The 10-10-10 model may sound simple and obvious.  Honestly, it is.  It’s remarkable, however, how quickly we can forget logic in the heat of the moment and make our decisions based on other factors.  At a recent speaking engagement in Toronto, Welch was quoted as saying that two “G-factors” are the common enemy of logical decision making; “gut” and “guilt”.  10-10-10 is largely about removing the G-factors.



The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Removing the G-factors

"…most people, however, are rescued from stressful indecision by their brain’s backup generator: gut instinct."
- 10-10-10, page 36

Guilt and Gut – two huge factors that permeate far more decision making processes than they rightfully deserve.

Instinct’s a funny thing; it has allowed us, as a species, to grow and prosper. It’s ingrained in our genetic makeup, it’s unexplainable and it’s often illogical.  Many top CEOs credit portions of their success to their intuition. Which is to say that intuition, in the true sense of the word, has its place.  The true challenge lies in the often blurred line between “intuition” and “emotional reaction”.  The primary differentiator, is time.

The 10-10-10 model is designed to give our decision making processes time and room to breathe.  While the model still gives us the freedom to factor in instinct, it does an amazing job of removing the “knee jerk reaction” that can be triggered by gut and guilt.  By considering the immediate, mid range and long term impact of a decision, we provide ourselves with a framework from which to make educated decisions that resonate in harmony with our core values. The same framework gives us an easily understandable way in which to explain our decisions as well.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Should I stay, or should I go?

"Every 10-10-10 process starts with a question.  That is, every 10-10-10 begins with posing your dilemma, crisis, or problem in the form of a query."
- 10-10-10, page 10

There’s a power in a question.  What is it you’re really trying to decide?  Specifically?  We have a tendency to overcomplicate; to overwhelm.  We as a human race have the remarkable ability to make decisions larger than they actually are.  Fear.  Doubt. Guilt.  These and other lurking influences can creep in from the shadows when we’re faced with a big decision.  One of the fastest ways to banish the distracting emotions is to source out the fundamental question at the base of the dilemma.  What is it you’re really trying to decide?  Say it out loud.  Write it down, if that helps.  The point is to crystallize clearly exactly what you’re trying to decide.  One question at a time.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Frame of Reference

"...it is with values as an integral part of the process that 10-10-10 truly becomes transformative, allowing us to live in sync with our authentic dreams, hopes, and beliefs."
- 10-10-10, page 53

You need to know your values.  You need to know what you want your mark on the world to be.  How do you want to be remembered?  What do you want your life to stand for?  Values can be challenging and often daunting things to define.  Many people have used the famous “Proust Questionnaire” to determine their values.  On pages 60 thru 62 of 10-10-10, Suzy offers her own values questionnaire, focusing on three questions:

What will make you cry when you’re 70?

How do you want people to talk about you when you’re not in the room?

What did you love about the way your parent raised you?  What did you hate?

The truth of the matter is that trying to make a decision without values is like trying to travel a great distance without a compass; you might travel the same number of miles, but where you end up will be left completely to chance.

The principles of 10-10-10 are broad sweeping, in the sense that they can apply to most aspects of life.  Specifically in regards to work and career, Suzy offers, “Are we motivated by money, prestige, challenge, flexibility or camaraderie?  It’s temping, of course, to answer yes to all of the above, but it is a rare job that meets every criterion equally.  To really know your values, you need to confront how they truly stack up.”


Do you know what really drives you?  There is an incredible value in knowing the hierarchy of your priorities.  In each aspect of your life, what is it that motivates you most?  What do you aspire to be, do or have?  Being able to picture your ideal life gives tremendous clarity in the 10-10-10 decision making process.

What I love about the 10-10-10 model is how well its startling simplicity compliments its amazing flexibility in application.  Whether you’re a student, stay home mom, entrepreneur or corporate executive, the 10-10-10 decision making process can be applied universally in work, life and play.  10-10-10 gives common sense decision making a framework in which to flourish.  This book is a true gem – simple, practical and timeless.

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Chris Taylor

ABOUT Chris Taylor

Founder of Actionable Books, Chris Taylor is a writer, entrepreneur and speaker. He spends his daylight hours helping consultants and employees alike find meaning in their work and discover rich team relationships through his company, Actionablebooks...
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