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Video: Don't (forget to) sweat the small stuff

advance advance planner video Jul 09, 2021

One day, a lady named Mary stopped me in the halls at a business workshop. "I want to thank you for what you taught my husband at the recent Advance!" she said.

I explained that I'm not sure I could actually teach him anything. Her husband, Jay, is an incredible guy.

She laughed, then told me, "Oh, yes! You did. Since the last event he’s been making our bed for me every morning!"

She was thrilled. Beaming from ear to ear, she talked with the enthusiasm of someone who’d just won bingo or the big stuffed animal at the fair.

I was, well… awkward.

My wife, who stood by my side, looked at the lady. Then me. Then back at her.

"Andy taught him to make your bed?” she asked, clearly in disbelief.

I assured both of them I didn’t teach him how to do anything of the sort as I frantically replayed every single sentence I’d spoken during the recent Advance to see if I had, in fact, told someone to make their bed. I was confident I had not.

Then it dawned on me. Making the bed was his “little domino.” It was his thing to show his wife he cared about her day, he was grateful for all the work she did around the house, and he desired to make things easier. Making the bed was a small way Jay chose to express honor and appreciation to Mary each day.

Here’s how it happened…

During the first session of that Advance, he decided that one of his dreams was a “thriving marriage.” One of the categories to support this dream was to make her feel valued. “Making someone feel important” is not an action, though. Rather, it requires action.

Jay decided one thing he could do every day to demonstrate his appreciation of her was to make the bed (rather than just assuming she would do it, which is what most men do!).  That bed became the "little domino” to push his bigger dream forward.


Here's a tip-- for each of your dreams...

Identify the catalytic action, the step on each bridge, which is most important and generates a disproportional  amount of influence relative to its small size.

A catalyst is a substance which causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly. For our purposes here, the catalytic action can be a person, event, or thing that causes radical change or creates quick momentum.

In chapter 6 of the Advance book you list several actions you feel are required to make your dreams a reality.  Take a look back at each of them and you'll notice something interesting. It may take you a moment to decide which one, but one of those action steps will push the others such that they all flow easier because that one is done. One of them is the catalyst.


We often assume big dreams require massive changes to become our new reality. But, small things create huge momentum if the small things are the right things.

In 1983, the American Journal of Physics reported that a falling domino will topple a domino 50% larger in size.  That was their theory, anyway.

A few guys decided to test the hypothesis. Their 2001 experiment at the San Francisco Exploratorium confirmed it. They used eight dominos.

  • The first was 2 inches tall— like a real domino.
  • The second stood merely 3 inches high.
  • Every domino rose 50% larger than the previous (2”, then 3”, then 4.5”, etc.).
  • The eighth stood 3 feet tall, towering above the 2” domino at the beginning of the chain. Of course, it fell like the others.

I wondered if this experiment really works. So, for Advance 6.0 in Atlanta, I built my own wooden dominos, scaling from 18” all the way to 8‘ tall.

I don’t have a truck, so Les drove me to Home Depot to gather the materials. Then, my boys and I got to work in the backyard.

The demonstration worked so well we took the props to Nashville for Advance 8.0. They were too heavy to ship to Seattle for Advance 007!

Here’s what we learned …

When you align  things in the right order, small stuff creates a ripple effect, something virtually unstoppable.

(If you set things in the wrong order, nothing happens. Think about it.)

In their book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan argue that, using the logic above, you can knock dominos over indefinitely. If you build each “next” domino just 50% taller things get colossal rather quickly.  If you push beyond the sequence of 8, you have the following:

  • Domino 1 = standard size, 2 inches tall
  • Domino 10 = About the height of an above-average height man
  • Domino 18 = close to the size of the leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Domino 23 = taller than the Eiffel Tower
  • Domino 31 = 3,000 feet above Mount Everest
  • Domino 57 = about the height of the distance from the earth to the moon!

The “domino” effect means this: some small activities result in a disproportionally large return, particularly in relation to their tiny size as compared to the exponential output they create. Those actions create infinite positive momentum...

And it doesn't just work with dominos-- it works in every area of life.

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