Make Use of the Domino Effect

The first small step is all that matters

In 2009, Stephen Morris who hold a Ph.D. set up a series of 13 dominoes, each is roughly 1.5 times the size of the previous one.

The first domino is so tiny - it’s 5 millimeters tall and only 1 millimeters thick - that it needs to be set up with a tweezer.

The 13th is about a meter tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

One of the critical factors in the physics at play here, Morris explains, is that a domino only needs to be slightly tipped forward before gravity takes over and pulls the weight of the domino to the ground. And with such high centers of gravity — resting as they do on a small surface area — it doesn’t take much to take dominoes to that all-important tipping point.

Gravitational potential energy — or the energy stored by balancing the tall domino on such a tiny footprint — comes from the domino’s mass and height, both of which increase with every subsequent domino.“That was 13 dominoes,” Morris says. “If I had 29 dominoes, the last domino would be as tall as the Empire State Building.”

The first domino

The amplification of the input (the first tiny domino) to the output (the 13th huge domino) is two billion. Some people called this the domino effect. Similarly to the idea here, I have also written an article on how tiny actions lead to great outcomes at the end of the day.

However, what I like to point out here is the first tiny, 15 millimeters tall, 1-millimeter thick domino.

the Domino Effect

Putting that into the context of our day to day work and life, the first domino is our state of mind. It’s about our beliefs, our motivation, our faith, our confidence, our emotions, our behavior, and our imagination. It’s about the stories we consistently told to ourselves.

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. —Napoleon Hill

With the winning state of mind, we can create an enormous impact on our life and to the world.

  • People like Steve Jobs who changed the world (and continue doing so) with the personal computer and then the smartphone when no one thinks it’s possible.
  • People like Mark Zuckerberg who started by connecting people in a university and now are thriving to connect the entire world with the technology.
  • People like Elon Musk who invested heavily in renewable energy and who knows, we might live in the Mars one day.

Changing the world might not be the vision for many of us. It’s not my current goal either. My current goal is to build a small online business that helps to maximize the potential of many entrepreneurs, makers, and creators out there while supporting myself and my family with a comfortable lifestyle.

Yet, still, the winning state of mind is what we all need regardless what goals and vision we have in sight. The question is, how to create the winning state of mind?

Don’t just think, do

In fact, there is no secret on how to create the first domino in your mind. You don’t need to tap into any untold source of infinite power or connect with the highest source of the universe. These methods may work for some people, and they definitely work for people who are selling these ideas.

What I like to propose here is not anything new. They have been mentioned by many great speakers and authors like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss, and being practice by many top achievers in a wide range of discipline and field.

I’m a big believer of practicality. These are not any special tools that can only be accessed by a certain group of people, these are techniques everyone can implement. And these are not something you can only practice after you attained certain results, in fact, you can implement them right now on a daily basis.

Here are the three techniques I learned and experimented on myself to frame the peak state of mind to crush through the entire day.

1. Start your day with a small win

Do something small, yet help you to create a positive state of mind early in the day. It could be 10 push-ups, 5-minute meditation, or a quick 15 minutes read.

Start your day right builds the momentum for your to stay positive, productive, and focused later in the day. Smile often in the morning, if you waste a morning doing mundane unproductive tasks, or dwelling in negative emotions or rage, there is a huge possibility you’re going to waste your entire day.

2. Do the most important task first

Take 10 to 15 minutes to decide what is your most important task for the day. It would work better if you do this at the night before.

Ask yourself, what is the one thing to complete, when it’s done, you will feel productive even when you do nothing else the entire day. These create a laser-like focus on your most important task, then, do them first, complete them before anything else.

3. Focus on what you can control

When I started writing, all I was thinking about is how people who read my article will react to my writing. When I pitch my article to big publications, all my focus goes onto whether or not they will accept my pitch. This focus drained my energy, simply because they are not the things I have control with.

Focus on things you can control makes so much more sense because you stop measure your performance and results based on something you have no certainty and no grip with.

Instead of trying to think how my readers think of my works, I make sure I write the best article I could at that moment and collect their feedback afterward. Instead of worrying whether or not big publications will accept my submission, I manage and maximize my output by submitting regularly and look for ways to improve my writing.

The winning in your mind comes first

Most people can’t win because they never win deep down in their mind and their heart. Unfortunately, there is exactly where the results come first.

Whether you think you can, or your think you can’t, you’re right. —Henry Ford

Is attaining the winner’s mindset difficult? It would be foolish to say no. It’s hard to build the winning state of mind if you don’t know how. However, the most common mistakes people made when coming to this is that they

  1. Not acknowledge that the state of mind comes first, so, they are seeking for results first when they should just take small actions to create small wins.
  2. Focus only on big wins and ignore small wins. They either have too many tasks at hand or the task is too huge. This makes winning extremely hard by losing clarity and focus.
  3. Using the wrong parameter to measure their results.

And the three simple techniques above are the exact solutions to tackle these mistakes.


  1. Here is the YouTube video where Stephen Morris showcasing what he called the Domino Chain Reaction.
  2. Speaking about the power of our mind, I never buy into the idea of “the law of attraction”. Motivation and willpower are crucial in giving you a heavy push on the starting line, but they are not enough to keep you going. Instead, I suggest mastering your behavior to build routines and habits in order to move in a progressive manner. The best solution is to design a thinking-doing loop to keep yourself in the forward movement.

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