How Dominoes Can Teach Us About Success

When we think of domino, the first thing to come to mind is probably a set of little tiled pieces that can be stacked on end to form long lines and then tipped over to cause a chain reaction that eventually leads to the entire line falling. These chains can get really elaborate and can be quite satisfying to watch. But there’s more to domino than just the simple fun of a game. Dominoes can actually teach us a lot about how to be successful in life.

Like a deck of cards, each domino has an identity-bearing side with an arrangement of spots or “pips” and a blank or identically patterned side. This gives the pieces their distinctive look, and also makes them easy to recognize. The pips indicate the number of spots on each side, which is how we know how much a particular piece weighs (the “rank” or weight) in terms of its ability to trigger more tiles to fall.

Most domino games have rules that state how each player must make his or her plays. The instructions that govern these play sequences may differ slightly depending on the specific game. In general, each player must place a new domino in such a way that the matching ends of the domino are touching. The domino must also be placed squarely to a double or perpendicular to one. These rules can help a player maintain a long, complex chain that develops snake-line fashion as it goes along.

Some games require that the player with the highest double in his or her hand begins play. In other games, players may choose to begin play with the heaviest single or with the winner of the last game played. In any case, the rules of a particular game must be followed in order to ensure that all players are playing by the same standards.

The word “domino” itself is an Anglicized version of the Latin word dominium, which meant “little crown.” It’s likely that the name was a reference to the shape of the pips, which might have reminded people of a crown. The word came into widespread use in the 19th century, although it had earlier denoted a hooded cloak worn together with a mask at carnival season or at a masquerade. It may have referred even earlier to a cape worn by a priest over his or her surplice.