Excerpt: Suzy Welch's "10-10-10"

"Colleges want varsity letters," I resisted, "and in about ten months, that's going to matter. Colleges want kids who stick with things, who don't give up when things get hard."

"Colleges should see the real Sophia," came the answer,"and I'm not playing tennis in college, Mom. Come on, I'm not good enough. It's not fun for me to keep getting beaten. It's not my sport. It's yours."

She was right, of course, but I wasn't ready to surrender.

"When you're a grown-up, ten, twenty years from now, you're going to wish you could play tennis with friends," I said. "And with me. We could play together."

"I could destroy you and your pathetic serve with one hand tied behind my back," Sophia said with the beginnings of a smile. She waited a moment before her final shot; I suppose she knew it was a winner.

"Mom," she said, "this decision is about my life."

With that I had to smile too. The game was over, and Sophia had won it fair and square. 10-10-10 had been there as our trusted referee.

And 10-10-10 is always there. No matter what the scope of the dilemma it's applied to, no matter what the details. Since the morning that I found 10-10-10, or it found me, I have seen the idea evolve into its full form and spread from person to person, across boundaries of every kind.

Because it works.

In a time when the world moves at warp speed and decisions can feel inexorably complex, 10-10-10 can help you forge an intentional life, choice by choice. It can make you far less likely to find yourself outside looking in at your life, in shock, dismay, or the kind of regret that rusts in you forever. It helps you decide whether you want to be a career woman or a mother, or both, whether a relationship should go forward or end, or if a job is worth saving.

10-10-10 adds reason where it is lacking. It inserts deliberation where there is only instinct. It replaces opaqueness with transparency. Or as Antoine told me once, 10-10-10 "hushes the noise so the mind can see what it needs to." Which brings me back to my first description of 10-10-10 as a life-management tool.

The truth is, if you use 10-10-10 consistently, it becomes less of a tool or a process or a device or a methodology— and more of an infinite and sustaining heartbeat.

It becomes a way of life.

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