Fighting Dominoes

Driving my dogs to the groomers had an obvious affect of making me think about fighting dominoes…

This is an unedited post… stop judging the uneditedness of it. I’ll get to it one day.

Of course it did. That’s how thoughts work. One thought leads to another and we end up thinking about something wildly different.

Why is fighting dominoes word the effort to write about? Because every reflection I have that creates a framework gets documented. Or, it should at least. I’ll work on that. But let’s dive in…

Most of us are aware of something called the domino effect, where one domino falling causes the next domino to fall, and so on. And I don’t think that’s it’s any Revelation that life is sometimes similar to a domino effect. When one thing knocks a domino down there seems to be a subsequent series of other dominoes that also get knocked down. Recently I’ve been focused on the concept of hyp er performance in hyper achievement. Setting audacious goals and considering standards that are marked by words such as preternatural mastery or world class. Achieving goals that use such words feels like I’m constantly fighting the domino effect in my life. You see, once a handful of Domino’s fall down, things become much harder. Take any Random 5 minute task that we can categorize as an easy one. Not a task you are putting off because you don’t like doing it or because it’s difficult, but one on any given day you could knock out with your eyes closed. Now bury that 5 minute easy task under a series of 10 tasks that are also not necessarily difficult in and of themselves.

But when you look at that series of 10 tasks, you know you’re not going to be able to get to all of them today. Now that 5 minute easy task starts getting a little more difficult to accomplish when you have other tasks to deal with. Let’s just say that those 10 tasks plus your 5-minute task is doable On Any Given day. But what happens when task number one slips? Or you think, I can do that task later? It causes abdominal effect. There’s a consequence to putting off these things. One domino falling down leads to another domino falling down. A series of five easily doable tasks becomes increasingly difficult to accomplish, even though they started off as really easy. Because the thing about tasks is that they don’t stop coming.

Five easily accomplishable tasks will eventually become 20 easily accomplishable tasks. Which will eventually become 50 easily accomplishable tasks. And you can see how the domino effect causes an exponential increase in difficulty. Well any given task may be super simple to complete, when you wake up and you have a pile of backlog tasks that you have to catch up on, doing any given task now becomes that much harder because of the weight of your backlog. This domino effect is a killer for anything or anyone that wants to achieve audacious goals. While doing five easy 5 minute tasks should be accomplishable in 30 minutes. Accomplishing five easy five minute tasks under the weight of a 50 task backlog may not take you several hours. Or perhaps you need longer breaks between the tasks in order to recover from continued sprints.

This domino effect crushes your velocity.

And now you can see why fighting dominoes is a very understandable destination for my brain to have arrived to. Because in order for me to achieve what I’m trying to I constantly have to fight these dominoes. There are times some Domino’s fall and I have to spend extra effort trying to pick them up and prevent any more from falling. And there are times when so many dominoes have fallen that I consider wiping all the dominoes off the table and just starting again. This has a significant consequence of completely preventing you from accomplishing any significant goals, because when you have to start at the beginning again, you’re not arriving at the destination.

I promised you a framework to fight Domino’s didn’t i? Well here it comes. There are 6things I think you need in order to fight Dominoes that I’ve acronymed vdad-rr.

What does vdad-rr look like or represent? It represents the 6 principles that you need to adopt in order to fight the Domino’s.

Firstly, is Vigilance. In order to fight Domino’s you have to be constantly vigilant about the effect of what happens when the first Domino drops. It’s very rare that we can do a controlled Domino drop and recover from that. When you procrastinate any given task it almost always has the unintended consequence of other Domino’s dropping, no matter how much we intend on only letting one specific Domino drop. We have to be vigilant and not letting any one of these Domino’s drop.

Next we have diligence, diligence is the principal of persisting through the end. It’s it’s being dedicated to the achievement. Fighting dominoes requires diligence because as soon as you let your guard down, that’s when the first Domino drops.

Next we have accountable. Accountability is taking ownership of the action and the consequence. Well you can use various task management Frameworks in order to defer, delegate, or delete tasks, the only way to fight Domino’s is to have accountability for doing so. Nobody else can prevent you from procrastinating, nor is it anybody else’s fault. To slaughter a phrase from an old firefighting bear, only you can fight your Domino’s.

Lastly is discipline. Discipline is the dedication to the action that aligns with your goal. Our goal is to fight the Dominoes and it requires discipline, regardless of the situation or any external issues. It’s like doing your exercise, you will only achieve your goal when you consistently, and persistently execute the tasks that will accomplish that goal. We have to be disciplined in managing our tasks in order to fight the dominoes.

But wait, there’s one more thing. Fighting Dominoes is exhausting. And there are times we need a break. Sleep is a necessity to be productive during the day. But resting from hyper performance and Domino fighting is also required. If you don’t plan for that and you just assume you’re going to fight Dominoes all day everyday that is absolutely a recipe for failure. So you need to balance fighting dominoes with downtime. If you don’t plan for it, it’s going to happen anyways and you’re going to have to then react to it. And in the framework of achieving audacious goals, you never want to be in a situation where you’re reacting, you want to be in situations where you’re responding. Responding implies you expected the situation and had a plan for it. And what’s better than responding is planning. If you know your body is going to eventually just stop fighting dominoes, you might as well plan for such an event. Plan your downtime. And it may take you a few iterations of figuring out how long can you fight Domino’s before you crash, or how long of a resting period do you need between fighting dominoes. Whether this is a daily rest, or a weekly rest, or a monthly rest, what does that look like for you?

Finally, have a plan for when your plan fails. Life Is Life and will throw you curve balls that your can’t account for. But you can account for the fact that life will throw you curveballs. That is a certainty, and if it’s certain then you can at least plan for what’s going to happen when you get that curveball thrown at you. What happens when you start getting a domino effect? Do you pause everything until you catch up? Do you alter your schedule for a weekend to catch up? What’s your response plan? Failing to plan a response means you’re going to have to react to a situation. Vigilance, diligence, accountability, discipline. Recovery, response. I hope this framework works for you.