The power of the 10-10-10 rule in making better decisions

David Fuller: The power of the 10-10-10 rule for making better decisionsWe’ve all pushed send on an email or text and then regretted our actions 10 minutes later.

It happened to me just this week.

Someone shortened a deadline on a project, and I questioned it. The person responded in a snarky manner. Squeezed by an already busy schedule, my temper rising, I sent an email back that may not have been as professional as it could have been.

If I’d waited 10 minutes or 24 hours, I might have taken the higher ground and let the snarky email pass like water off a duck’s back.

I stumbled across the 10-10-10 rule in the book Decisive, but Suzy Welch made it famous in her book 10-10-10. The rule states that when making a decision, we should add an element of perspective. How happy will we be with our decision after 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?

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Giving our decisions an element of time can provide us with a point of view that may not be apparent when we’re struggling with a choice that could profoundly impact our lives or businesses.

Even little decisions like responding to a co-worker, business partner or our teenagers could benefit from the 10-10-10 rule.

However, larger decisions like quitting a job, making an investment, taking our business in a new strategic direction, or even getting married would benefit substantially from this type of thinking.

It’s easy to think that, after 10 minutes, we might still be happy with the decision we just made. In the case of my email, if I’d waited 10 minutes, I might have made it shorter but still sent it.

But if I had used the 10-10-10 rule, I would have considered the future consequences of my action 10 months out. I might have realized that there were underlying factors that raised my ire, and from the point of view of 10 months in the future, the email wouldn’t have been necessary. In 10 years, nobody will care, and, with the state of my memory, it will be forgotten. So, from the perspective of 10 months and 10 years, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to send the email.

So what do we do if we forget to use the 10-10-10 rule, send an email, or make a decision we regret?

If it’s a simple error in judgment and hasn’t caused deep grievous damage, a simple “I’m sorry” can make a big difference.

Often, we’re harder on ourselves than we are on others. Realizing that we’re not perfect and will make mistakes will affect us and others. Forgiving ourselves is often more difficult than we think, but treating ourselves with some gentleness can alleviate the stress we feel about our actions.

It’s easy to say we’ll never take the same action again. But that’s unrealistic without having strategies in place.

Eating more cake, chocolates, or chips than we should while watching our favourite Netflix series can cause regrets. Chewing out an employee or co-worker for something they forgot to do might also cause regrets. Cutting down a tree in your yard and having it fall on your kids’ trampoline is regrettable. We’re likely to feel bad that night or the next day.

It’s probably unrealistic to think we’ll never face those temptations again. So what do we do when faced with similar situations in the future?

We need to develop strategies that will be effective in such situations. Perhaps a 10-10-10 rule might be the answer.

Everyone makes mistakes, and focusing on them too long isn’t healthy.

Strategic thinking tools that give perspective to decisions can reduce the chances that we’ll have regrets.

But not making decisions isn’t a valid option if we want to be successful and make the most of what we’ve been given.

Good decisions, however small, can make our lives and the world better.

Dave Fuller is a Commercial and Business Realtor, an award-winning business coach, and business author.

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