Day 17: learn the 10/10/10 rule

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Hello Campers! Welcome to Day 17 of our Confidence Boot Camp. If you’ve been hanging in there with us every day, or even most days, we hope you’re beginning to see some subtle shifts in the way you think, feel, and act in situations that require courage and confidence. As we’ve said many times before, the key to change is PRACTICE. Practice works because it affects our neural pathways, and lays tracks for more automatic behaviors. Think about a baby learning to walk, or a child learning to read. It is through constant practice, pattern recognition, failure, course correction and finally, success, that make these skills easier as time goes on.
Today’s topic is all about perspective, and comes from the Spiritual domain of The Chemistry of Confidence. Remember, Spiritual Confidence is connected to our values, or “the long view” of our lives. What matters right now? What matters in the big picture of our lives? Today, we are introducing a tool called “10/10/10”, which comes from a book by Suzy Welch, which we think has valuable applications to building confidence.

The 10/10/10 rule, as Suzy Welch describes it, helps us manage short-term emotion to determine if our decisions are sound. Short-term emotion, as we’ve discussed before in some of our other tools, can sometimes hijack the brain and inhibit the reasoning that comes from our pre-frontal cortex, and may cloud our ability to forecast the impact of our decisions. The 10/10/10 rule is simple. If you’re facing a situation that creates anxiety, fear, or nervousness (and therefore quashes your confidence), you ask yourself three simple questions:
“How will I feel about this in 10 minutes?”
“How will I feel about this in 10 months?”
“How will I feel about this in 10 years?”
Putting some time frames into our decision, or our response to a situation, gives us the ability to step back and get some perspective. It also allows us to get our best thinking back when we feel impulsive or when our emotions may be in the driver’s seat.
Let’s look at an example of how this might work.
Imagine that you have a colleague who has been repeatedly missing deadlines that everyone on the team agreed to in order to deliver a project for your customer. You feel you need to have a conversation with her because everyone is frustrated, but no one has had the courage to confront her. She’s a valuable member of the team, but her delays are causing everyone else’s work to be caught in the bottleneck, and they have to work extra hours to catch up. You’re feeling anxious and not fully confident that it will go well, because she has a tendency to become defensive and blame the problem on others.
To apply the 10/10/10 rule, you first imagine yourself having this difficult conversation with her, and then asking yourself the 10/10/10 questions:
How will I feel 10 minutes after the conversation?
I will probably feel relieved that it’s over and proud of myself for stepping up.
How will I feel 10 months later?
Since the project deadline is in 30 days, I will feel satisfied that I took care of the problem when I did, and didn’t wait until we missed our deadline because of her delays.
How will I feel 10 years later?
I doubt that I will remember the specific conversation, but having done what I did, it will probably have increased my confidence and assertiveness, and I would likely have been able to address similar situations more easily whenever they came up.
With this perspective, then, was it a good idea to have the conversation? Yes, definitely!
You can also use the 10/10/10 rule to recover more quickly when you’ve had a confidence shake. Imagine you have decided to build your network of career allies, and you approach a senior leader and ask him to be your mentor. He seems surprised by your request, and then says curtly, “I don’t really know why you’re asking me. I don’t have the time.”
Such a sharp response might quickly wake up your Lizard Brain, and you may feel like shrinking into the shadows for having made such a request, promising yourself that you’ll never ask anyone for anything again. But with the 10/10/10 rule, you give yourself a way to cool the emotions, leash the Lizard, and get some perspective.
How will I feel 10 minutes after this interaction?
Probably still shaken and upset.
How will I feel 10 months later?
My emotions will certainly have settled, and I may see this person in a new light, recognizing that it wasn’t my failure in asking, but either I needed more information, more political savvy, more input from someone else before asking, or I simply needed to find a mentor elsewhere.
How will I feel 10 years later?
Likely, at this point, I will be the person whom others will be seeking out as a mentor, and I will remember this incident simply as a valuable learning experience. I will recognize how hard it is for a junior person to ask for help, and I will respond with compassion and clarity about my availability to work with him or her.
The 10/10/10 Rule is a simple, straightforward way to help you increase your confidence by giving yourself time to see the bigger picture of your decision. A wise friend of mine described an idea she uses sometimes which she calls, “Going to the moon.” She says she imagines herself sitting on the moon, looking down at her life from a distance. It gives her the ability to take herself out of the minutia and everyday stresses of life, and get a new perspective. Because she can see it all at once, she feels that she is better able to make decisions that will be the right ones for her in the long run.


  1. Identify a situation you may be avoiding, a decision you may be delaying, or a conversation you’ve been putting off because it makes you uncomfortable to think about dealing with it.
  2. In your journal, apply the 10/10/10 Rule, imagining that you have already done the thing that you have been avoiding, and answer the three questions:
    • How will you feel in 10 minutes (after you’ve done it)?
    • How will you feel in 10 months?
    • How will you feel in 10 years?
  3. Given this practice, now what will you do? When will you do it? How will you do it? What preparation or support will you need to follow through and do it?

Taking “the long view” of our life can build our confidence because we allow ourselves time and space to move out of short-term emotion and into more balanced, wise-minded thinking. Experiment with the 10/10/10 Rule, and feel free to change the time frames to whatever works best in your situation. How will I feel in 10 hours from now? How will I feel in 10 days from now? How will I feel in 10 weeks?
Thanks for staying with us in Confidence Boot Camp, and we hope you’re having as much fun and learning as much as we are. How do you think you’ll feel in 10 days, when we are nearing the end of our 30-day adventure together? Cheers!

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