The 10-7-5 Principle and how to apply it

Defining our external factors is a concept made popular most recently by Dr. Phil McGraw, the TV Psychologist guy. I really dig Dr. Phil and you should check out his website I have linked for more information about the 10-7-5 principle. Defining internal factors is just as important and I will assemble more information about internal factors to share at a later date.

The 10-7-5 principle

When we define our external factors through the 10-7-5 principle, we reveal what factors have impacted us the most. The 10 Defining Moments are positive and negative points in our lives we use as references to define who we are. The 7 Critical Choices are a small number of good and bad choices we make in our lives which have a profound impact on who we will become. The 5 pivotal people in our lives are those people we choose to model ourselves after whether it be conscious or unconscious. Those people will influence us and our way of living the most.

My 10 defining moments have been:

  • The sexual abuse in my life at age 6.
  • Graduating High School (with a 2.2 GPA) despite bouncing from house to house trying to find a place to live my Senior year in High School.
  • Joining the military. I left Delaware and all the family nonsense I no longer wanted to be a part of behind. I was FINALLY free to be happy on my own terms.
  • My first deployment to a foreign nation, before 9-11. I visited Saudi Arabia. I was instantly hooked on how people different than us operated and communicated. I discovered I loved to travel.
  • Incident number one – May 2003 Al-Anbar Province, Iraq.
  • Meeting and marrying my wife.
  • After several miscarriages and a nursery empty for a year, we had our amazing son, Devlin.
  • Incident number two – November 2007 Camp Bucca, Iraq.
  • Retiring from the military.
  • Starting Project: Beautiful Trainwreck.

My 7 critical choices are:

  • The decision to leave Delaware immediately upon graduating High School to join the military.
  • The decision to join an extremely high demanding career field that would put me in harm’s way almost every day I did my job.
  • The decision to attend college and save money while most of my friends partied and spent all their cash.
  • Marrying the prettiest girl in the room. The girl who will always be the prettiest girl in my room.
  • Returning to Iraq after I said I wouldn’t go back.
  • Moving to Waterloo, Illinois to detoxify my body and my mind and become a sane person again.
  • Beginning Project: Beautiful Trainwreck.

My current 5 pivotal people are:

  • My wife, Erin. My absolute best friend in the world and the only one who will ever truly understand the weird fucked up individual that is me. She is the strong one in our relationship.
  • My karate Sensei. He has the ability to encourage me without insulting me which is a rare talent. He is wise beyond his young years.
  • My military mentor. He has achieved the rank and status of a true professional and has impacted my personal life as well as my career in ways I could never thank him enough for.
  • My son. My incredible son. He is being provided a better childhood and young adult experience than I was able to be provided. My son is growing into a well-developed young man surrounded by love and real-world related challenges. He helps ground me in reality and truly keeps me on my toes as a father with his curiosity about the world.
  • My Psychology mentor. While he and I disagree on mostly everything and some days I wonder how we work together so well, I can’t deny his value in my life.

Evaluating our external factors is an important tool which can help identify from whom and what we draw our values and influences from. The great thing is we can actually change some of these factors. We can decide who we are influenced by and we can target areas of our lives we wish to make better choices in. By defining ourselves through the influences present in our lives we can now identify many facets which are responsible for the way we often feel. If something or someone is influencing us in a positive or a negative way we have the control to either increase that influence or decrease that influence. Just because something is important to someone does not mean it is important to everyone.

Decide who and what our external factors should be. Decide if we are incorporating external factors we desire or are meandering along with the values and external factors that came attached to someone or something. Perhaps it’s time we had a conversation with ourselves about who we are and what are our values.

You’re Welcome. Internet.

External Links:

McGraw PhD, P. (Sept, 2002) Defining Your External Factors. Retrieved from:

McGraw PhD, P. (Sept, 2002) Defining Your Internal Factors. Retrieved from:

This post was inspired by “Its all on U” (feat. Liam O’Donnell)

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