A Quick Formula for Unlocking Your Potential: The Domino Effect

Ada Ciuca| July 9, 2020

What do you envision when you think about the path to attaining ‘success’? Perhaps it is a full calendar, or putting in a lot of overtime and spreading yourself across a multitude of tasks. In their book, The ONE Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan provide an alternate perspective. “The way to get the most out of your work and your life is to go as small as possible. Most people think just the opposite. They think big success is time consuming and complicated. As a result, their calendars and to-do lists become overloaded and overwhelming.” 

Keller and Papasan argue that success doesn’t have to be the complicated, time-consuming process that it has been made out to be. Instead of getting lost in insignificant tasks and trying to accomplish too much, they argue for narrowing down your focus to the single most important thing to accomplish. From there, the Domino Effect will follow.

What Is the Domino Effect?

In an episode of the ‘Marketer of the Day’ podcast, The ONE Thing vice president Geoff Woods explains: “If you’ve ever lined up dominoes, did you knock them individually or did you line them all up? When you knocked down the lead domino, and that first domino unleashed an effect that knocked them all down? We know that over time, when you keep knocking that lead domino down, all of a sudden you’ll experience hockey stick growth.” 

When you line up your dominoes correctly, the collective result of that first, smallest thing is extraordinarily powerful. So when you determine what your first domino is and knock it over, the impact of your action will create a higher level of success. That’s the Domino Effect.

In collaborating with Keller and Papasan, Woods has been bringing the idea of the Domino Effect to the forefront of entrepreneurs’ minds worldwide. How can you set yourself up to experience this effect? By reprioritizing. 

“What we’ve discovered is that most people do the things that are easy to do, because it feels good to cross that thing off your list. What happens is that you don’t actually do the things that move the needle. (…) If doing the most important thing is the most important thing, why would you do anything else?” Woods shares in the same podcast episode.

Experience the Domino Effect  

Whether you are looking to experience growth in your professional or personal life, here is a simple formula that will help you center your priorities and propel your success:

  1. Identify your ONE Thing
  2. Time block for your ONE Thing
  3. Protect your time block

Identify Your ONE Thing

What do Bill Gates, Apple, and Google all have in common? They all started with a clearly defined ONE Thing: one passion, one product, one person that took a chance on them. Along with many other successful people and companies, they are a prime example that extraordinary success doesn’t happen all at once. Success is sequential. People have a limited supply of willpower every day, and the way to ensure success is to focus on what really matters. 

To identify your top priorities, ask yourself “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Keller writes. “Knowing your future goal is how you begin. Identifying the steps you need to accomplish along the way keeps you thinking clear while you uncover the right priority you need to accomplish right now.” 

As you work toward that overarching goal and begin gaining success, priorities may expand and shift, but it’s always important to keep things in perspective and revisit your top priority. For Bill Gates, the chain reaction started with a passion for coding, then a mentor who took a chance on him. Now, Gates is using his wealth to make an impact on global health, and he is doing so with ONE impactful goal in mind – providing access to vaccines at the global level. 

If you want to accomplish something BIG in your life, you have to work from a process – you have to line up your dominoes. And then you’ve got to keep yourself accountable.

Time Block for Your ONE Thing

Once you’ve identified your goal, create the time and space necessary to achieve it by time blocking your ONE Thing as well as your planning time. Make regular appointments with yourself, ideally early in the day, to reassess your ‘ONE’ for the day. “If your time blocking were on trial, would your calendar contain enough evidence to convict you?” Keller asks. 

Protect Your Time Block

As your time block approaches, set yourself up for success by eliminating distractions ahead of time. Let the people who are most likely to seek you out know when you will be available to them, and commit to not leaving your workspace unless it is for bathroom breaks. In order to give the task at hand 100% of your attention, have any supplies and snacks on hand before beginning. 

By focusing on your ONE Thing, you’ll be sure to unleash a force that will lead to extraordinary success.

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