The Common Denominator of Success (EP236)
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
“The common denominator of success --- the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful --- lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do.” - Albert E.N. Gray
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In 1940, at the National Association of Life Underwriters annual convention in Philadelphia, Albert E.N. Gray delivered a speech called ‘The Common Denominator of Success.’
Though it was written for life insurance professionals of an age gone by, its message is equally well suited to anyone who seeks success today. In a world where selfies with Lambos and exotic trips to the Mediterranean are thought of as inspiration material.... Jay Coulter thought re-producing this speech, with updates for today’s world, may be inspirational for someone struggling to get a foothold in their career.
Jay Coulter is not the first to reproduce this great talk and won’t be the last!
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Jay Coulter 00:09
In 1940, at the National Association of Life Underwriters convention in Philadelphia, Albert Gray delivered a speech called the common denominator of success. Though it was written for life insurance professionals of an age long ago, its message is equally as important today for anybody who's seeking success, particularly in financial services. In a world where selfies with "Lambos," and exotic trips to the Mediterranean are thought of as inspirational material, I thought reproducing this speech could benefit some folks inside of my network. Now, I'm not the first person to reproduce this, and I will not be the last, selfishly, I hope this podcast will be useful for my own children someday, when they find themselves going through some difficult decisions or hard times in their career. Here are the words of Albert Gray, updated with my language for a modern age. Several years ago, I was brought face to face with the very disturbing realization that I was trying to supervise and direct the efforts of a large number of professionals who were trying to achieve success without knowing myself what the secret of success really was. Like most of us, I had been brought up on the popular belief that success is driven by hard work. But I've seen so many people work hard without succeeding, and so many succeed. Without working hard, that I had come become convinced that hard work was not the real secret. Even though in most cases, it is one of the requirements. So I set out on a voyage of discovery, to figure out where success comes from. It carried me through the biographies and autobiographies of all sorts of successful people, until I finally reached a point in which I realized that the sixth secret, the secret I was trying to discover, lay not in what people did, but also what made them do that. In short, I was looking for the common denominator of success. And because that is exactly what I was looking for, that's exactly what I found. 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 be long winded about it. It is simple, the common denominator of success, the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful, lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do. It is just as true today, as it was back then. It's just as true as it sounds. And just as simple as it seems. You can hold it up to the light, you can put it to the acid test, you can kick it around until it is worn out. But when you are through with it, it will still be the common denominator of success, whether you like it or not. Have you ever noticed someone come into our industry and think a they have all the tools to be successful, and yet they fail. And conversely, someone who should not really be giving advice, yet they end up successful. I don't think hard work had anything to do with it, even if it was a component of it. If the secret of success lies in forming the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do, it's important to note this, the things that failures don't like to do, or the very same things that you and I, including the most successful people in our industry naturally don't like to do. We don't like to call on people who don't want to see us and talk to them about something they don't want to talk about. So instead, we post on social media, we write blogs, we produce podcasts, and we leverage other marketing distractions. Any reluctance to follow a definitive prospecting program is caused by this one basic dislike. Perhaps you've been discouraged by a feeling that you were born subject to certain dislikes that were peculiar just to you. And maybe the successful in our business are not afflicted with this problem. Perhaps you've wondered why it is that our biggest advisors seem to like to do the things that you don't like to do. Well, here's the secret. They don't like to do them either. And I think this is the most encouraging statement I've ever offered financial advisors. So that begs the question, if they don't like to do these things, then why do they do them? Because by doing these things that they don't like to do, they can accomplish the things that they want to accomplish. Success. Small people are influenced by the desire for pleasing results. Failures are influenced by the desire for pleasing methods. Why are the successful able to do the things they don't like to do while failures are not is because successful people have a purpose, strong enough to make them form the habit of doing things they don't like to do in order to accomplish the purpose they want to accomplish. Sometimes we all get into a slump. When we get into a slump, it simply means that we have reached a point at which for the time being, the things we don't like to do have become more important than the reasons for doing them. Many with whom I've discussed this common denominator of success have said at this point, but but but I have a family to support and I have to make a living from my family and myself. Isn't that purpose enough? Well, no, it isn't. It isn't sufficiently strong enough to make you form the habit of doing the things you don't like to do. For the very simple reasons that it's easier to adjust ourselves to the hardships of a poor living than it is to adjust ourselves to the hardships of making a better one. If you doubt me, just think of all the things you are willing to go without. In order to avoid doing the things you don't like to do. I'm going to read that again. If you doubt me, just think of all the things you're willing to go without. In order to avoid doing the things you don't like to do. Perhaps you've attended conferences in the past, and left determined to do the things that would make you successful or more successful only to find your decision or determination waiting just at the time when it should be put into effect or practice. Here's the answer. Any resolution or decision you make is simply a promise to yourself, which isn't worth a tinker's damn, unless you have formed the habit of making it and keeping it. And you won't form the habit of making it and keeping it unless right at the start. You link it with a definitive purpose that can be accomplished by keeping it. In other words, any resolution or decision you make today has to be made again tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and so on. And it not only has to be made each day, but it has to be kept each day. For if you miss one day in the making of keeping it, you've got to go back and begin again. But if you continue the process of making it and keeping it each morning, and each day you will wake up one 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? Well, 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're seeming like a different person living in a different world lies in the fact for the first time in your life, you have become the master of yourself and the master of your likes and dislikes. 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 final 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 simply depend on your purpose in life. So let's talk about purpose. First of all, your purpose must be practical and not visionary. Some time ago, I talked with a man who thought he had a purpose which was more important to him than income. He was interested in the sufferings of his fellow man. He wanted to be placed in a position to alleviate that suffering. But when he analyzed his real feelings, we discovered and he admitted it, that what he really wanted was a nice job dispensing charity with other people's money and being paid well for it. Along with all the appreciation and feelings of importance that naturally go along with such a job. But in making your purpose practical, be careful to not make it logical. Make it a purpose of the sentimental or emotional type. Remember, need your logical while wants and desires are sentimental and emotional. Your needs will push you just so far. But 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 your 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 identifying its discovery. He had a definitive 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 wants had done. He wanted to avoid for his little girl, the hardships his own sister had to face in her childhood. And he wanted his wife and mother of his children to enjoy the luxuries and comforts and even necessities, which had been denied 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. Now not to discourage him, but to rather encourage me, I said to him, aren't you going a little too far with this thing? There are no logical reasons 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 you missed in your college life. But he'll probably have heartaches and disappointments as well. But if he's any good, he'll come through in the end, 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 to find have the things your wife was not able to have. 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 the realization that the more I'm willing to do for my wife and children, the more I shall be able to do for myself, I cannot imagine after hearing that story, you won't have to be told how to find your purpose, or how to identify it, and 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 in the accomplishment of it. But as long as you live, don't ever forget, that while you may succeed beyond your fondest hopes, and your greatest expectations, you will never succeed beyond the purpose to which you're willing to surrender. Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete, until you have formed the habit of doing the things that failures don't like to do. Now, I hope you found this talk from Mr. Gray, inspirational. I know I always have a couple of takeaways for listeners, particularly if you're a financial advisor. Have you identified what your purpose in life should be? I find that most of not, what are the handful of things that most successful people in our industry do, that you maybe are not doing? Here are a couple of things to consider? Have you targeted the centers of influence that could have a real impact on your business and form the habit of trying to connect with them on a regular basis? How about your social interactions with clients? Are you taking them to lunch? Dinner? You know, in this post lockdown world, having the ability to get out and socialize with folks can have a real impact on your business? And lastly, are you asking for referrals? The number one way to acquire new high net worth clients? Thank you for listening and please don't forget to visit resilient advisor.com and grab some of the free resources that we provide financial advisors