The Common Denominator of Success
From Albert Gray’s book The Common Denominator of Success
Several years ago I was brought face to face with the very disturbing realization that I was trying to research and explain what it took to be a success in sales, without knowing myself what the secret of success really was. And that, naturally, made me realize that regardless of what other knowledge I might have brought to my job and to others, I was definitely lacking in the most important knowledge of all.
Of course, like most of us, I had been brought up on the belief that the secret of success is hard work, despite this, I had seen so many people who work hard and don’t succeed and others who succeed without working hard. Because of this, I had become convinced that hard work was not the real
secret, though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.
Given my background and training, I began trying to explain success by reviewing all relative research on such topics as motivation, behavior, performance and job satisfaction. Next, I set out on a voyage of discovery, which carried me through thousands of books, magazine and newspaper articles, biographies and autobiographies. I then conducted numerous empirical research studies in over a 20-year period.
After a time, theory, research results, and hearsay overwhelmed me. Then, one day as I was day dreaming, everything I had done came to focus. My mind focused on the realization that the secret I was trying to discover lay not only in what people did, but also in what made them do it.
I realized further that the secret for which I was searching must not only apply to every definition of success, but since it must apply to everyone to whom it is offered, it must also apply to everyone who had ever been successful. In short, I was looking for the common denominator of success. But this common denominator of success is so big, so powerful, and so vitally important to your future and mine that I’m not going to review all of the writings and research, which have brought me to the common denominator of success. I’m just going to tell you.
The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that the person formed the habit of doing things that others don’t like to do. It’s just as true as it sounds and it’s just as simple as it seems. You can hold it up to the light, you can put it to the acid test, and you can kick it around until it’s worn out, but when you are all through
with it, it will still be the common denominator of success, whether you like it or not.
Why are successful people able to do things they don’t like to do while others are not? Because successful people have a purpose strong enough to make them form the habit of doing things they don’t like to do.
When Top People Slump
Sometimes even the best people get into a slump. When a person goes into a slump, it simply means he/she has reached a point at which, for the time being, the things he/she doesn’t like to do have become more important than the reasons for doing them. And may I pause to suggest to you that when one of your good people goes into a slump, the less you talk about production and the more you talk about “purpose,” the sooner you will pull the person out of the slump.
Habit Is The Key
Now let’s see why habit belongs so importantly in this common denominator for success. People are creatures of habit. Every single qualification for success is acquired through habit. People form habits and habits form futures. If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will
form bad ones. You are the kind of person you are because you have formed the habit of being that kind of person. The only way you can change is through habit.
You Have A Purpose
Here’s what has happened. Your resolution or decision has become a habit and you don’t have to make it on this particular morning. The reason you seem like a different person living in a different world is because you have, for the first time in your life, become master of yourself and your likes and dislikes. This is done by surrendering to your purpose in life. That is why behind every success there must be a “purpose,” and that is what makes purpose so important to your future. For in the last analysis, your future is not going to depend on economic conditions or outside influences of circumstances over which you have no control. Your future is going to depend on your purpose in life. So let’s talk purpose.
What Is One’s purpose?
Purpose is something set up as an object or end to be attained. Occasionally purpose is referred to as someone’s personal mission statement. In setting your purpose, or mission statement, first create an imaginary ideal life you would like to live, in every respect. Your ideal life should be based upon who you are and where you are going in life. Let yourself dream big dreams. Let your mind float freely into the future.
Wants Or Needs?
Human beings are motivated by needs and wants. A person’s needs result from a lack of something desirable, such as food, car, clothes, or shelter. Wants are needs learned by the person. They are often seen as emotional or psychological and not practical. For example, people need transportation but want a car instead of a horse or a bicycle. Most people want a luxury car instead of an inexpensive used car or truck. Instead of watching the game on television, some want season tickets. Instead of a five-room house some want a twelve-room house on two acres of land. Instead of working until one’s 80, some want to retire at an earlier time in their life mainly because they have not made their job satisfying for themselves.
Make Your Purpose Based Upon Wants.
Remember, needs are logical while wants are emotional. Your needs only push you just so far. When your needs are satisfied, they will stop pushing you. If, however, your purpose is in terms of wants and desires, then your wants and desires will keep pushing you long after needs are satisfied and until your wants and desires are fulfilled.
Recently I was talking with a young man who long ago discovered the common denominator of success without realizing it. He had a definite purpose in life and it was definitely a sentimental or emotional purpose. He wanted his boy to go through college without having to work his way through as he had done. He wanted to avoid for his little girl the hardships, which his own sister had to face in her childhood. He wanted his wife and the mother of his children to enjoy the luxuries, comforts, and even necessities, which had been denied to his own mother. He was willing to form the habit of doing things he didn’t like to do in order to accomplish this purpose. Not to discourage him, but rather to have him encourage me, I said to him, “Aren’t you going a little too far with this thing? There’s no logical reason why your son shouldn’t be willing and able to work his way through college just as his father did. Of course he’ll miss many of the things that you missed in your college life and he’ll probably have heartaches and disappointments. But if he’s any good, he’ll come through in the need just as you did. And there’s no logical reason why you should slave in order that your
daughter may have things which your own sister wasn’t able to have, or in order that your wife can enjoy comforts and luxuries that she wasn’t used to before she married you.” He looked at me with a rather pitying look and said, “But Mr. Gray, there’s no inspiration in logic. There’s no courage in logic. There’s not even happiness in logic. There’s only satisfaction. The only place logic has in my life is in realization that the more I am willing to do for my wife and children, the more I shall be able to do for myself.” I imagine, after hearing that story, you won’t have to be told how to find your purpose or how to identify it or how to surrender to it. If it’s a big purpose, you will be big in its accomplishment. If it’s an unselfish
purpose, you will be unselfish in accomplishing it. And if it’s an honest purpose, you will be honest and honorable of it. But as long as you live, don’t forget that while you may succeed beyond your fondest hopes and your greatest expectations, it is impossible to succeed beyond the purpose for which you are sacrificing. Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete until you have formed the habit of doing the things that others don’t like to do.