The Common Denominator of Success

Treat Thompson



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Happy Sunday! This weeks newsletter is about the secret of success.

The lessons shared here are from Albert Gray’s speech to the National Association of Life Underwriters in 1940 - “The Common Denominator of Success”.

The common denominator of success

While trying to direct a group of men and women seeking success, Albert Gray came to a disturbing realization: he wasn’t sure what the secret of success was.

As is the common belief, he thought the secret of success was hard work. However, he noticed that there were people who became successful without working hard and many who worked hard but didn’t become successful.

A journey of studying the lives of successful individuals led Gray to the answer.

He said, “The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every individual who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he or she formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

It explains why some succeed with many disadvantages and why some fail with an elite skillset.

What are the things that failures don't like to do?

They are the things that no human genuinely enjoys doing. There are too many to name them all and they are specific to the domain you're trying to be successful in.

Here are a few examples:


  • Write every day
  • Maintain a quality note data base


  • Consistently push your limits
  • Eat a quality diet
  • Get quality sleep

Social media creator

  • Genuinely engage with community
  • Be extremely consistent with publishing content

Every domain has things that you don’t want to do but would make you more successful if you did them.

Success is achieved by the minority of people, therefore it’s not going to be achieved by doing what the majority does.

Why do successful people do the things they don't like?

Because that’s the path to achieving their goals.

Successful people do anything it takes to reach their goal, while regular people want to do things they’re comfortable with.

Successful people are able to do that because they have a purpose that makes it worth doing. Their purpose is strong enough that they form the habit of doing things they don’t want to do.

That habit forms their future. Albert Gray said this on maintaining that habit:

“If you continue the process of making it each morning and keeping it each day, you will finally wake up some morning, a different person in a different world, and you will wonder what has happened to you and the world you used to live in.”

This weeks quote

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different? - C.S. Lewis

I like thinking of the essence of this quote. We don’t notice something’s true influence on our lives until a significant amount of time has passed.

Like habits; in the short term they seem negligible, but over time you realize how they’ve changed your life.

This weeks reflection

Is your purpose strong enough to make you consistently do the things you don’t like doing?

Albert Gray said when we enter a slump it’s because the things we dislike have become greater than our purpose.