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The Domino Effect

Read Time : 6 minutes

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On the 13th November 2009, 89 builders set to work diligently in the WTC Expo Center in Leeuwarden, Netherlands with the objective of breaking a World Record and achieving a coveted place in The Guinness Book of World Records. The goal was simple, topple as many dominoes as possible using only one domino to start the chain.

The result, a breathtaking, artistic spectacle - 4,491,863 dominoes toppled and a transformative lesson in success creation - hit the right domino and good things will start to happen, in rapid and expeditious succession. Intrigued by this hypothesis I began to research 'The Domino Effect', and only truly grasped the gravity and magnitude of this theory when I stumbled upon the work of University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead in The American Journal of Physics. His research found that dominoes could not only topple other dominoes of the same mass but that they contained the potential energy to topple a domino one and a half times its size.

'Fantastic - a 10 gram domino can knock down a 15 gram domino' I thought to myself sarcastically, beginning to lose my enthusiasm for the possibilities of this theory. Upon watching the University of Toronto's Professor Stephen Morris showcase the power of this theory, my perspective changed instantly.


Using a domino 5mm in height and 1mm in width, Morris created a cascading chain reaction of falling dominos. The 13th domino in the chain was more than 3 foot tall and weighed around 100 pounds - the power of domino magnification. If the chain had continued, the 15th domino would have knocked down a domino the size and weight of current World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and the 29th domino would have wiped out a building as tall as the Empire State Building.


The lessons of 'The Domino Effect' and 'Domino Magnification' leave us with a clear principle for success in any area of life:

  1. Extraordinary success happens incrementally and exponentially not simultaneously or concurrently

The integration of this principle into everyday life not only simplifies tasks but supercharges outcomes. Domino Theory runs contrary to society's general approach to success creation by creating small, manageable processes which compound over time. The comparison of the 'traditional' approach and the Domino Theory approach to addressing some of the society's most prevalent issues are outlined below:

Improving Body Composition through Fat Loss

Contrary to the conventional, yet unsuccessful and unsustainable, approach of adopting a new diet plan, a new training regime and a new lifestyle - which is totally incongruent with your current habits - that starts on Monday, 'Domino Theory' suggests we pick the one task of biggest impact first.

With calories consumed being the biggest indicator of weight gain/ loss the individual will begin to track calories consumed vs weight. If the weight is falling caloric intake should remain the same, while increased/ maintained weight will require a decrease in caloric intake.

This system ensures an immediate, clear and concrete feedback loop, creating a positive feedback loop for weight loss or a clear, concise course of action for an increase or maintenance of weight. A string of positive feedback will lead to increased confidence and adherence to the plan and a desire for further progression.

When, and only when, this practice is embedded, the individual will begin to work on the next most impactful process for improved body composition - getting 8 hours sleep each evening for example. Once embedded they will move on to the next most impactful process leading to exponential growth over time thanks to the magic of compounding.


This list is by no means exhaustive and will depend on the individual's goal. The aspirational bodybuilder will have significantly more steps in the their journey than the father of three who wants to be able to run a 5km comfortably and look slimmer in his jeans but the principle remains the same for both.

Financial Freedom

Within our current climate those who stumble upon the concept of financial freedom often aim to accumulate copious amounts of wealth through lottery tickets, buying Apple stocks or borrowing money to buy Bitcoin. While Apple stocks and Crypto currencies can be part of a well diversified investment portfolio, they are by no means the first step on the journey to Financial Freedom.

Those who follow Domino Theory, take the biggest most impactful step first, and work out exactly what Financial Freedom means to them and only then do they move on to devising a plan to move them in that direction. For many this involves:

[ ] Building a £1000 reserve fund

[ ] Paying off non-mortgage debt

[ ] Building a 6 month expenses fund

[ ] Beginning investing

[ ] Paying off their mortgage

Each step is taken sequentially and financial freedom is achieved over time.

Landing that Promotion

For the majority of people a desire to land that promotion is met with a need to be the 'go-to person', saying yes to every task, 'building a network' and taking on the work, responsibilities and worries of others. Not only does this approach hamper the capacity development of their colleagues by stealing their problems but they also ensure that they have so much on their plate that nothing of any significance is ever achieved.


The 'Domino Theory' advocate realises that doing less is the key to promotion. After careful analysis of the company ethos, the values they extol and the company development plan they create a bespoke step by step plan which allows them to develop the skills needed to move the company forward and thus create profit, capacity and value within the company. They show their impact through tangible, objective data making it impossible for the company not to promote or remunerate them for their efforts. Impact trumps busy every time for high performers.

The data are clear, when implemented appropriately 'Domino Theory' is the fastest way to achieve success in any field and even more impressively the formula is simple - find the Domino with the biggest positive effect on your goal and restlessly and diligently pursue it until it falls before looking for the next Domino. Each falling Domino should drop the next with less effort leading to exponential growth and success.

Journalling Points

Where could I use Domino Theory in my current plans?

What singular task should I be focused on?

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