your ambition as a domino

In creativity, deep thoughts, inspiration, motivation by Jay Clouse

I think we all played with dominos as a kid. There’s something satisfying about setting up a perfect design, then knocking over the first piece and seeing a chain reaction take effect.

But this week I came across the actual math and physics behind dominos, and it kind of blew my mind.

Usually we see a chain of identical dominos falling one after another. But there is actually enough force in one falling piece to knock over a piece 1.5x the size.

In this video, you can see a domino 5mm high and 1mm thick result in toppling a 100 lb domino that’s over a meter tall, just 12 short steps later.

And, as the guy in the video says, if the reaction continued for a total of 29 dominos, the final domino could be the size of the Empire State Building and topple over.

Look, I never took a physics class. I did everything I could to get out of it both in high school and in college. But this is some crazy stuff!

And why do I really care?

Because if you apply this concept more broadly, you start to think about how to can arrive at what may seem like a giant, inaccessible outcome.

Being your own boss may seem hard, far away, or inaccessible right now. But if you knock a couple dominos over (learning a skill, practicing that skill, starting a side hustle) it’s not long until you are suddenly knocking at the door of your larger goal.

And then a few steps down the line from there, it’s much easier to understand how people truly build enduring businesses around their creativity.

One of my biggest challenges to myself is thinking bigger — it’s literally part of my desktop background. But I’m often slowed down by how inaccessible or far away those big ambitions seem.

But in reality, it’s just a few steps away.


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