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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Common Denominator of Success


If I were to ask a dozen people what they believed to be the common denominator of success - eleven of them would probably say "hard work." While hard work is certainly one element of success, it's really not the common denominator. There are lots of hard-working people out there who don't seem very successful and, conversely, there are a few successful ones who didn't seem to work very hard at all.
Another common belief is that money or riches would be the common denominator of success. Earl Nightingale, a pioneer in the field of personal achievement, said: "Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal." The reason I like that definition of success so much is because it takes money or riches out of the equation. In other words, if people are teaching school, serving in ministry, delivering mail or staying home with the kids - because they want to - they are successful. So money isn't the common denominator either.
Albert E. N. Gray describes it this way: "The common denominator of success of every person 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." And there you have it; the common denominator of success is habitually doing what the non-successful won't do.
This explains why we see a 95 percent failure rate for small businesses in the first ten years after start up - 80 percent of that 95 percent fail within the first two years. It also explains why we see so many highly qualified people fail in the businesses they seem so highly suited for. Conversely, it's not uncommon to see outstanding success by others in spite of facing overwhelming obstacles or discouraging handicaps.
The Common Denominator of Sales
So, if the successful form the habit of doing things unsuccessful people won't do, what are the things they don't like to do? Well, that depends on what field they're in. Let's take sales as our first example. Sales success means calling on people who may not be interested in what we have to offer. It's called prospecting.
Unsuccessful people simply haven't figured out innovative or creative ways of getting the interest of those who could benefit from their product or service. Maybe they haven't narrowed their target market enough. Maybe they haven't researched a prospect's business to the degree they can show a benefit from buying what they have to sell. No, it just takes too much effort do research or think creatively. But successful people will.
Successful sales people understand that to get an appointment with a few select prospects they'll have to make a dozen or more calls, at various times of the day, before an appointment gets made. But they do it anyway.
The Common Denominator of Writing
Let's consider the field of writing. As a published author, I regularly hear people say, "I've always wanted to write a book." When asked "why don't you?" I hear excuses like "I just can't get started," or "I don't write well," or "I'm not sure anyone would be interested," or... well, you get the idea. They want the title of author but they don't necessarily want to take the time to actually write something.
I once heard a radio interview with a prolific author and writer. He was taking calls from listeners and one of them said: "You've written so many books and articles, I see your work everywhere, how do you find the time?" The author's response was: "Madam, I write something every day, without exception."
The Common Denominator of (You Pick the Topic)
It doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter what field you're in, the common denominator for your success will be to simply do those things you need to do to become successful. Not sure what those things are? Then find someone who has been successful in your field, buy that person lunch and ask. Successful people are happy to share the "secrets" of their success and, guess what? There are no"secrets." What you'll find is that that individual, in that specific field, is simply doing what the unsuccessful aren't doing - or won't do.
A couple of decades ago, I was sharing with a mentor that I was reading a lot about parenting, because I wanted to be a better parent. His advice to me was to find a couple who were raising great kids and spend time with them. Thankfully, for my children's sake, I did just that. One of the great "secrets" I discovered was that great parents spend time with their kids. Duh!
Outstanding organizations and high-performing individuals have this one thing in common. They do those things that need to be done - even when they don't want to.
Go forth and do likewise.
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