The Domino Effect Taught Me That Success is Built Sequentially & It’s Built Over Time

In Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, on Domino Day, November 13, 2009, Weijers Domino Productions coordinated the world record domino fall by lining up more than 4,491,863 dominoes in a dazzling display. In this instance, a single domino set in motion a domino fall that cumulatively unleashed more than 94,000 joules of energy, which is as much energy it takes for an average sized male to do 545 pushups.

Each standing domino represents a small amount of potential energy; the more you line up, the more potential energy you’ve accumulated. Line up enough and, with a simple flick, you can start a chain reaction of surprising power. And Weijers Domino Productions proved it. When one thing, the right thing, is set in motion, it can topple many things. And that’s not all.

In 1893, Lorne Whitehead wrote in the American Journal of Physics that he’d discovered that domino falls could not only topple many things, they could also topple bigger things. He described how a single domino is capable of bringing down another domino that is actually 50 percent larger.

Do you see the implication? Not only can one knock over others but also other that are successively larger. In 2001 a physicist from San Francisco’s Exploratorium reproduced Whitehead’s experiment by creating eight dominoes out of plywood, each of which was 50 percent larger than the one before. The first was a mere two inches, the last one almost three feet tall. The resulting domino fall began with a gentle tick and quickly ended “with a loud SLAM.”

Imagine what would happen if this kept going. If a regular domino fall is a linear progression, Whitehead’s would be described as a geometric progression. The result could defy the imagination. The 10th domino would be almost as NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. By the 18th, you’re looking at a domino that would rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The 23rd domino tower over the Eiffel Tower and the 31st domino would loom over Mount Everest by almost 3,000 feet. Number 57 would practically bridge the distance between the earth and the moon!

Getting Extraordinary Results

So when you think about success, shoot for the moon. The moon is reachable if you prioritize everything and put all of your energy into accomplishing the most important thing. Getting extraordinary results is all about creating the domino effect in your life.

Toppling dominoes is pretty straightforward. You line them up and tip over the first one. In the real world, though, it’s a bit more complicated. The challenge is that life doesn’t line everything up for us and say, “Here’s where you should start.” Highly successful people know this. So every day they line up their priorities anew, find the lead domino, and whack away at it until it falls.

Why does this approach work? Because extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous. What starts out linear becomes geometric. You do the right thing and then you do the next right thing. Over time it adds up, and the geometric potential is unleashed. The domino effect applies to the big picture, like your work or your business, and it applies to the smallest moment in each day when you’re trying to decide what to do next. Success builds on success, and as this happens, over and over, you move toward the highest success possible.

When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time. When you see someone who has done a lot, they accomplished it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of money, they earned it over time.

The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.