“Let’s play dominoes,” I suggested.
We played three games. I lost all three.
I got a little discouraged. I began to think maybe I needed to switch up my strategy.
I placed my dominoes by common numbers, a lot like when I play cards.
We got set up for another game.
“Would you mind showing me how you set up your dominoes?” I asked my game partner.
“Sure,” he replied.
I went around the table and saw he had placed all of his dominoes in sequence, immediately playable once he began to play.
This explained why it took him a little longer to be ready for the initial play, but he was able to play and converse easily throughout the game. He knew exactly what his next moves were all the way through the sequence. I had to to consider which domino I was going to play every time it was my turn.
The problem with the way I was playing was that I never knew what I was going to play next. I hadn’t played out the sequence.
My opponent had thought his play all the way down the line. He lined up his dominoes.
Suddenly I began to consider the difference in our thought processes. If one could think down a line in a game such as this, couldn’t one also think down a line in a project? What about in instruction? How about across a week’s planning? A month? A year? A lifetime?
I’ve gotten better at dominoes since learning to arrange the tiles according to how they play out. And I’ve gotten better at thinking too.
Often, as we grow up, our ways of thinking become set. It is easier if we follow these well-worn paths of thought. We know how to think by heart. However, dominoes taught me that when we identify someone who has insight we don’t yet have, if we are willing to ask them to share their knowledge, we can grow our own understanding in unforeseen ways. Even in dominoes.