What is the Domino effect?
One of our most popular activities is something that we call – The Domino Challenge! The challenge involves a team working in smaller groups stacking up a set of domino chips in random arrangements. Finally all the different groups are interconnected – after which we trigger the first chip, which triggers the next one and so on, until all the Dominos fall down. This is what in popular language is also called The Domino effect. The activity is debriefed around what we call as the “virtuous cycle” and the “vicious cycle” that we see all around us – in business, in teams and in our own lives!
Recently, one very long stretch of work seemed to have sapped out all the positivity out of me. During a one day break in between some hectic travel, I dropped in at office to finish some urgent pending work. However, nothing seemed to go right for me on that day. That email, that phone call, that discussion with my colleagues, everything seemed to be going downwards in a negative spiral. On the way back home that day, I was stuck in maddening traffic jams. Sitting in the cab, I was thinking “There isn’t anything that is going right today. What a bad day this has been”.
And just as I thought about that – another thought stuck me. Wait a minute… Nothing went right? What was I thinking? That too when I recently wrote a blog about a fact that we don’t catch happiness or unhappiness, we generate it within. Then, how did I of all people get into this negativity trap?
A little soul searching led me to a surprising truth – the negativity trap I found myself in, was not because of something external to me – but because of the messages I was sending to my own mind. The villain I was looking for was me myself!!
When I did not get the results I wanted, I felt sapped. This gave my brain a message – ‘The Unhappy One’ in this case. And then, as a loyal servant would, my brain started to give me all the information I needed for justifying and amplifying my feeling of negativity.
Was the internet slower that day? Was the traffic heavier that day? Not really, I think. So, what happened on that day? In retrospect, it is a simple a game of focus. What I focussed on – I got. Knowingly or unknowingly I chose unhappiness, thus my focus was automatically shifted to the negative forces around me and I ignored all the positive ones. I basically created my ‘Bad Day’.
When we feel stuck in such a vicious cycle, we lose our powers to break free from it, as we get too busy in finding faults in everything else but us. The moment ‘The fault finding finger’ shifts towards us, things become less complicated and we find a way to break this ‘Vicious Cycle’. Taking ownership for ourselves is the hence the magic mantra to break free and create a ‘Virtuous Cycle” again.
Here are a few lessons I have learnt about breaking free from a ‘Vicious Negative Cycle’.
1. Pause – When you experience that things around you are turning negative and not producing the desired results, Pause. Notice your Breathing Pattern, Body Posture, Tonality, Words, Surrounding and Emotions.
2. Take the Blame – Yes, nobody else but you, is responsible for this situation. Well at times our results depend on other’s work. However, just imagine a day when you were very positive and energetic, how did others respond to your requests? Now compare that day with this day when you are quite low in energy and quite negative in feelings. When you are in ‘The Positive Cycle’, your energy becomes contagious, and others often respond the way you want them to.
3. Start a New Conversation with Yourself – Remind yourself about a good day when everything you touched, turned to gold (metaphorically speaking). Think about the body language, the tone, the posture, etc., that you had on that day. Just follow the same pattern today.
4. Change the External Settings – Our surroundings play a major role in adjusting our thought pattern. ‘The Positive Cycle’ is reinforced when you have positive settings around. Select the music that gives you positivity, change your room’s aroma, the lighting, the seating style and change everything that puts you off!
5. Enjoy the Change : Let the change make you happy. The ‘Positive you’ will certainly attract good things to you. Approach your life’s challenges with this new ‘You’ and see the magic.
Do share whether this would work for you – as it does for me!