The Domino Effect // Dream Big + Small Actions = Extraordinary Outcomes
advance the ladder Oct 04, 2016
In 1983, Lorne Whitehead wrote (in the American Journal of Physics) that a falling domino- all 2 inches of it- can push over a domino that's up to 50% larger. In other words, 2 inches can topple 3 inches. And, by the same logic, 3 can topple 4.5, 4.5 can topple even more...
A 2001 experiment at the San Francisco Exploratorium confirmed this. They used 8 dominos that looked like this:
* Domino 1 = 2 inches tall, standard size
* Domino 2 = 3 inches...
* Domino 8 = 3 feet tall
And, of course, it fell... they all fell.
Watch and see a similar experiment in the video above we conducted at the Advance 6.0 event in September 2016. You'll see what I mean.
What if you kept the chain going?
In their book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan argue that, using the logic above, you could continue knocking dominos over indefinitely. And, if you went beyond the sequence of 8, you would have the following:
* Domino 1 = standard size, 2 inches tall
* Domino 10 = About the height of Peyton Manning
* Domino 18 = close to the size of the leaning Tower of Pisa
* Domino 23 = taller than the Eiffel Tower
* Domino 31 = 3,000 feet above Mount Everest
* Domino 57 = about the height of the distance from the earth to the moon!
Here's a visual of what it looks like (slide pulled from The Ladder):
Here's what they're getting at: there's one "domino" in your routine such that, by toppling it, everything else you have to do becomes easier. They suggest you identify that one thing and focus on doing it.
In other words, No!- a little domino cannot push over your "ultra big" dream. But, that little domino, that little thing you do every day, can push over something a bit bigger that can start a ripple effect of knocking dreams over and over until you crush the big one!
Maybe this video will help...
Make it real
Once you see this concept in "real life," you start noticing it everywhere. Here are some examples from my actual experience:
Date night makes our marriage stronger. My relationship is stronger with Cristy because there is one night a week where we leave the house. It doesn't matter what projects we have going on, it doesn't matter how busy things are. We have one night when we go out. We've done this for a long, long time.
(If you've heard some of my story and some of the difficult seasons we've had, you're probably putting the pieces together and realizing that this small action, in large part, is one of the reasons we're together.)
Turning the phone(s) off creates a fun, stress free environment in the evenings. When we turn the cell phones off from 5:00 pm until the kids go to bed, things go smoother. The kids seem happier, Cristy & I seem less edgy, and we all "connect" on a deeper level. Of all of the other things we could that, turning the electronics off for a few hours seems to be the domino that knocks the others over...
You see what's happening?
* Cell phone off = small domino
* More engaged with the kids = a bit larger domino, which is now easier to topple
* Everyone happier, less edgy = even larger domino... now falling over, because we're more engaged, because we turned the phones off...
(Of course, when the phones stay on, we knock dominos going in the other direction!)
The tool we use, to identify that small domino
This concept became so important to me that I integrated into the curriculum we use at the men's Advance events (a leadership event for men that empowers them to move from where they are to where they're destined to be- in all areas of life). In the back of the book, we have a two-page spread that looks like this:
You'll notice that on the far right side, in the middle of the page, there's a place called "Catalytic Actions." That's what these dominos are, catalysts. I'll explain why in a moment...
By the way, let me give you another example, because sometimes the initial domino is a person- not a task. Spencer & Scott, two of my friends, made Advance 4.0 (San Diego) run smoother than any other event had to that point. Until that time, we hosted the events close to home, meaning one of us who were invovled in leading the events (Les, Verick, or myself) could handle some of the logistics.
For that most recent event, though, we headed clear across the country to San Diego. We still had all of the same logistics to handle- but they were easier because we handed them off to two friends who live over there, Spencer & Scott. Pulling them into the mix made everything go smoother.
People who attended the event were pleasantly surprised at how smooth things ran, at how incredible the facilities were, and at how organized everything ran. The truth is that neither none of us (V, L, myself) ever laid eyes on the facility until we got there for the actual event. Spencer and Scott handled it all- and even found a food truck to rent and an amazing place to race 40 mph go-karts. Ahh... and they took us surfing (Scott, who's a legit pro, even gave lessons to any of us who wanted them.)
They- those two men- were the initial domino, in other words. They flat-out knocked a chain reaction of dominos that set everything up for success.
Let me give you another example...
Health and fitness is easier because I began tracking what I was doing once I decided to drop 50 pounds and get fit. My weight loss journey was hard work- and I enjoyed every single bit of it. The "domino" that knocked it was actually writing the information down on a spreadsheet. I made quick notes of what I ate, how I exercised, what I weighed, and how I felt. It made things happen faster... and kept me focused.
Writing down my food intake, how much I weighed, and my exercise patterns... that was the domino...
Business growth happened when we cleared time & space for it to happen. Once I saw how successful Cristy could be with her Young Living business (she was already successful, and I realized I was just looking at the tip of the iceberg of the potential), we dedicated an entire day of each week where I would stay home from work, handle the kids, and let her have time and space to do her thing uninterrupted.
Later that grew to two days each week...
Then it was more...
I finally stopped working outside the home and began working from home so that we could free even more time...
As a result of the time and space- and her hard work combined with the hard work of her incredible team- her business grew by over 400% within the year.
How did it begin? The extra time to work was the first domino...
Make your own bed
Your domino will be unique to you. And it will be effected by your situation. During the Advance events where we teach this info, it's always fun to listen to the things men identify as the "one thing," the domino, the catalyst...
I've literally had men say that there domino is to massage their wife's feet every night.
Others tell me that they're going to tuck their kids in at night.
Some say they'll begin reading the Bible for 15 minutes in the morning.
Others decide they'll take the kids for a walk, sit on the front porch with their wife, have dinner around the table, or even turn the television off a few nights a week...
The domino is unique to you, and it always creates movement in the right direction!
One day, one lady stopped me in the halls at a business workshop. "I want to tell you thanks for what you taught my husband!" she said.
I explained that I'm not sure I could actually teach him anything- he's an incredible guy.
She laughed, then told me, "Oh, yes! You did. He's making the bed for me every morning!"
She was thrilled. Cristy, who stood right by us, looked at the lady. Then me. Then back at her...
"Andy taught him that?"
I assured both of them I didn't...
But then it dawned on me. Making the bed was his domino. It was his thing that showed her he cared about her day, about all the work she did around the house, and how he wanted to help make things easier...
(Side note: my wife is still waiting for that to be my domino... Moving on...)
The "science" and religion behind it
Chemists talk about catalysts- substances that cause chemical reactions to happen more quickly. In effect, catalysts create momentum. Sure, you can knock over a 3 foot tall domino, but isn't it easier to knock a 2 inch domino over and let its momentum do the work for you? Of course- that's why the chart I referenced a few paragraphs ago labels the "small dominos" as cataytic actions. These small actions make big things happen faster and with more ease.
Your dreams are big. They should be. There's a lot of great stuff that's in you.
And, to be honest, there's probably even more in you than you realize. The Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:19-20) writes that God can do- and will do- with you...
"... more than you can ask, think or imagine..."
I can think of a lot. I can imagine a lot. I can dream big. You can, too.
Yet we dream too small, even!
That said, here's my charge to you: identify the catalyst, the small domino... the one thing. Not everything you could possibly do, but the single thing that gets the most bang for the buck and makes everything easier. In other words, dream big + take a small action. Now.
You might also like The Ladder, the online version of everything we teach at Advance!