10-10-10, a Review of Suzy Welch’s New Book

As promised, I am reviewing the book that my heavily disguised life is part of thanks to a blog piece I wrote over two years ago on Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 problem solving theory called 10 10 10: A Life Transforming Idea.

Once upon a time, Suzy was a harried working mom and wife who, while trying to manage a business conference, two of her four children and a mini-vacation all at once, came to the startling realization that all women (and possibly some men as well) come to sooner or later – we cannot do, nor can we have, it all. At least not simultaneously. There has to be balance. There needs, for sake of sanity and maintaining good, healthy relationships, to be give and take. And thus 10-10 10 was born.

It was nothing more or less than a way to think a dilemma or option out beyond the nano-second of time where we all live and to pro/con the outcomes of the many paths we can take.

In ten minutes what will be the result of my decision.

In ten months?

In ten years?

In her book, Suzy talks about her own personal experiences using 10-10-10 and she shares the stories of just a few of the thousands of people who have latched on to her ideas and used them in their own lives. She covers all the biggies of life: love, the workplace, career building, raising kids, marriage, friendships and along the way shares and shares again her own story which felt like sitting and having coffee with a good friend on a late Saturday morning at the mall while the kids whooped it up in the play area.

The tone of the book is quite conversational. There is never the sense that she is phoning it in or is selling you a self-help quick fix. She truly believes in the idea that all problems can and should be thought through and beyond the moment, and that while those decisions we arrive at that may not make our immediate lives happier they will eventually improve our lives by having made the right, rather than the easy, choice.

My favorite anecdote in the book is one that Suzy shares about having what can only be termed a “a come to Jesus” discussion with her four children after a particularly trying weekend getaway with her new boyfriend and eventual second husband, Jack. Frustrated by the children’s antics, Jack had pulled the car into a service station and went in to get gum. During the brief span of time he was gone, Suzy made it clear to her kids that she would not tolerate any behavior designed to sabotage her relationship and that she and Jack were a team now – and they had better get used to it. 

Some people – many people – would be shocked by a mother choosing a mate who was not the biological father of her children over the children, but I was impressed because early in our relationship, Rob and I had made essentially the same thing clear to our girls. As a former teacher, I have seen the outcomes of child centered families and it was heart-warming to see that I am not alone in believing that a strong happy adult, or adults, are the heart of any happy family.

I used 10-10-10 when I first waded back into the dating scene about 6 months after Will died. I did not have stellar results the first couple of times and one attempt in particular was a spectacular failure that sent me scurrying back to my corner to re-learn a few things that Will had taught me that his death had temporarily wiped from my mind. But when I met Rob via the widow board, I applied 10-10-10 at nearly every step along the way from agreeing to correspond with him to keeping things strictly a friendship to taking the leap to perhaps something longer lasting. I was glad to have something concrete to measure and weigh along the journey. 

I found myself identifying strongly with many of Suzy’s personal stories and I especially loved the chapters of career charting and friendships. So much resonated as I read that I found myself re-reading parts and reading passages aloud to Rob as I worked my way through the book. I basically didn’t put it down for two days and I was so worked up that I shot off several commentary emails to Suzy as I read.

It is a good book. Well-written. Timely. Warm. Funny. And if you don’t read any other non-fiction work this year, this should be the one you do read.

11 thoughts on “10-10-10, a Review of Suzy Welch’s New Book

  1. I love the story of the “come to Jesus” moment, too. I watched my best friend always pick her kids over her second husband (she was also a widow), and they gave her no end of trouble. When my step-kids came to visit, I had a “come to Jesus” moment with my ex, telling him if he ever contradicted some discipline I enforced on them, he wouldn’t live long. Not that it helped much, they weren’t around that much.

    I will put this on my library list immediately.

    1. Back in my widda board days, the folks there came down squarely in the land of “kids rule” and that “our children are better judges of character than we are when we are grieving”. Yeah, the logic is faulty on the latter. Children need to be validated but they should never be given the idea they have veto power in their parents’ lives. It is a bad precedent and a burden to kids really that borders on abuse.

  2. Thanks for the 10-10-10 lesson. I have never really thought about decisions in that way before. Mostly I have gone with my gut, what felt right at the time. Lately though, my radar seems off a little. Nice to have another trick up my sleeve.

    Also love the come to Jesus moment with kids. I can see how that would be completely necessary. Perhaps some day I will even get to test it out! 🙂

    1. It is a simple thing but it’s deceptive because it requires us to put to words our values and what we want our lives to look like too.

      Yeah, I still love that moment in the book because it illustrates a point we have forgotten in our society which is that most of the time our children do not come first. And I know you will have you chance to test this.

  3. I will have to check out this book. I also use a 10-10-10 before I get totally upset about something. Will this event/situation/etc… matter to me in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years? I think I save myself a lot of emotional moments this way.

  4. like this construct very much… when we’re overloaded, we lose the ability to think long term, strategically. it’s all tactical… now, if i could only get the extended family to read it?

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