The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

Does one thing really lead to another?

If it does, it that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s up to you.

You succeed in losing your first pound, publishing your first post or shipping your first product. Congratulations! You, hopefully, celebrated and then started on your next pound, post, or product. But then you might think that you need to also eat healthier, publish a book, or start a business.

[box type=”note”]The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change. (Wiki)[/box]

The Domino Effect (or Theory) has its roots in recent history when the United States was concerned that if one country came under the influence of communism it would spread to neighboring countries. So it has a bit of a bad rap … unless you were a communist leader. Today, you’ll often hear it in reference to a cascade of events that are perceived as negative.

[quote]We had the house painted and the next thing we knew we got new windows.[/quote]

The tone isn’t clear, but that homeowner was annoyed that they had to get new windows. Bluntly, it’s usually about the money. Usually, it’s a good idea to get new windows. Of course, if you actually needed new windows. I certainly see the negative version of the house painting to new windows example if the windows weren’t necessary, or worse: the windows were part of a scam from the contractor piling on additional costs.

Ask yourself, What’s the larger goal? Is it truly just saving money or improving the house? Or maybe there’s an even loftier goal?

Let’s take home exchange or renting our your home. We had a home exchange over the summer but we knew our upstairs carpet looking something between a frat house and a boys’ room (OK, it is a boys’ room … ). We’ve been wanting to do something about it for, literally, years. We had it cleaned a few times, but it was a light color, it wasn’t going to last. Summer was approaching, we wanted a nice place for the home exchangers. Wait a minute: we wanted a nice place for us. We finally got it done in May.

It took the first domino of home exchange to get our carpet replaced. Nothing else was working (wanting, complaining, whining).

Worse still … or better yet … with new floors, the paint on the walls looked awful. We knew we wanted (and needed) to paint that room, it was just too low on the priority list. Now the room was completely empty, the kids were camped out downstairs and it was Now or Never. Now was the time. Done.

Home Exchange –> New Floors –> New Paint –> Happy Home Exchangers –> Even Happier Home Owners

Bonus: we get to check off two items that have been on our Home Improvement To Do List for years.

Gee, this Domino Effect is great! Spend more and then more and then even more money! Got any other examples?

Remember losing that first pound? How about writing that first blog post? Hitting publish, watching it leave your fingertips and escaping into the world? Launching that first product?

The first feeling after achieving something is often, “Hey, that wasn’t as bad as I thought!” Or even if it was difficult, expensive, time consuming, or even truly painful and gut wrenching: you did it. You took the first step, you’re on your way, you’re no longer behind the starting line, you’re in the race. You’re part of the solution.

You lose that first pound and the second one is easier. The third even easier. You keep hitting publish and pretty soon you’re used to it, it becomes a habit. You learn while you’re building your product and the next one is easier, more efficient, better.

But if you keep going, you keep doing one domino at a time, you can achieve a whole greater than its parts. Your pounds turn into a healthier body–and a person who understands, respects, and even becomes passionate about health. Your blog posts become a collection, they guide your thoughts, they become your daily therapy or maybe attract some attention. Each domino on its own is a little bit of energy and all together it’s … powerful. Those products turn into projects, into work, into clients, into a business.

Or they don’t. There are no guarantees. But here’s a guarantee: if you don’t knock down that first domino the second won’t fall over on its own.

  • Home Exchange: Oh no, I have to clean and organize my house. (Finally.)
  • Got a dog! Oh, have to walk him every day. (Thank God.)
  • Hardwood floors installed. Now we have to paint. (It’s (been) time.)
Home Exchange to Hardwood Floors to Staining the Deck.

Home Exchange to Hardwood Floors to Staining the Deck.

  • Possible: Hope you’ll knock down the last domino.
  • Impossible: Knock down the last domino without any others.
  • Repossible: Start with one of them.
By |2017-05-24T13:28:03+00:00August 30th, 2013|Perspective|3 Comments

About the Author:

Bradley Charbonneau was sitting with his 8-year old reading a bad children's book when he said to his son, "We can do better than this ... and you're going to help me." Then they did it. He hasn't stopped since.


  1. Write Every Day Challenge August 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    […] The Domino Effect (Aug 30) […]

  2. Kristen September 1, 2013 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I am often teased by my husband for saying “sooner rather than later.” I guess I say it a lot. The bottom line is that this life/vacation/new business venture is not a dress rehearsal. This is it. Do it now or forever hold your peace. Start somewhere. Anywhere. Action does indeed have a domino effect. Thanks for the post!

    • Bradley Charbonneau September 1, 2013 at 8:44 am - Reply

      You mention one tiny word that’s of critical importance, Kristen: action. You could even take that a step further and say: action that requires some effort, thought, or even pain. It’s not just “tie my shoes” action, it’s action that you didn’t do before out of, usually, fear. But if you take that action that you were previously scared to do, it’s the beginning of the dominos.

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