A Well Known but Less Implemented Secret for Just About Any Type of Success

The What, How, and Why of Success You Already Know

5 min readJun 22, 2022
Image by Martin Sanchez at Unsplash

We all wonder how someone (with the kind of success you want for yourself) became successful. What is it they did to reach where they are? Well, I am here to tell you that you already know what’s the secret of theirs and all successes. It is something we keep putting off doing and stay where we are.

When I read it the first time, I thought this was totally applicable to me and exactly the thing I need to change about myself. This secret was called ‘the common denominator of success’ by Alert E. N. Gray in his speech to the National Association of Life Underwriters at their annual convention in 1940.

It’s simple and whole — not an understatement or exaggeration. Here it is.

Drum roll…..

The Common Denominator of Success

“Successful people have a habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

Yes, this separates successful people from those who aren’t successful.

Pause here for a moment and contemplate does this applies to you? What do you know that needs to be done but keep putting off? Deep down, you always know what’s standing in your way. You even knew what needed to change. But you just don’t make it happen. This article discusses how and why to break this behavior.

There is a common misconception that hard work is the secret to success.

‘Hard work might be a requirement for success but it’s not the secret of success.’

Because for some, success comes easily, while for others, it doesn’t happen despite all the hard work. Now you might be interested in the following question:

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

Normal and successful people equally dislike the things that bring success. Success doesn’t come naturally to a chosen few, rather demands careful effort to actualize. If it were as natural as all humans needing sleep, only a small portion of humanity wouldn’t have been experiencing success. You are not subject to genetic disadvantage for not getting born with the desire to do the disliked things that bring success.


How do successful people manage to do the things they don’t like to do?

Successful people are driven by results, not the methods. If their goal demands effort, they follow through to achieve the successes others fail to achieve because they desire pleasing methods. Failures end up with the kinds of results they settle for. As Albert Gray said;

‘’Successful people are influenced by the desire for pleasing results. Failures are influenced by the desire for pleasing methods and are included to be satisfied with such results as can be obtained by doing things they like to do.’’

Why can successful people do things they don’t like to do?

Successful people manage to do what’s needed because of a compelling ‘WHY.’ They have a strong purpose that fuels their habits. The habits of doing things that they don’t like. That’s how they are able to accomplish their purpose. And this pursuit of purpose brings in success and achievements beyond the grasp of those lacking the discipline to do the things they don’t like.

Habits of Successful People

Everyone sets different goals to attain their purpose in life. Thus the kind of habits one needs to develop depends on their goal. Here’s one rule to determine the kind of habits one needs to develop to accomplish their goals.

“If you are not willing to do X, then you set yourself up to do Y.”


X: Things you dislike yet produce the desired outcome,

Y: Things you like are easy but don’t produce the desired outcome.

For instance, I must develop a writing schedule and stick to it to become a writer. If I don’t follow through with this schedule, I end up doing other stuff that doesn’t serve this purpose. It could be anything from doing house chores to watching TV or staying in the job I don’t like. These are the easy things I even like but don’t produce any writing career for me.

I will only be willing to bear the trouble of learning the art of writing when I am certain to use the lessons to become a writer. Unless I intend to use a writing tool, I will not take an interest in having to afford it, buy it and then learn to use it.

Thus, if you are unwilling to become someone, do something, or use something, you will not practice and learn it (put effort into it).

This is why habits are a key determinant of success.

Habits are vital to the secret of success.

We all can find someone in our lives who has so much goodness inside them but can only bring out so little. They lack the determination to do the right thing at the right time.

Whatever you are today is because of the habits you built for yourself in the past. And who you become in the future depends on the kind of habits you form for yourself today. All changes, positive or negative, come through habits. Also, if you don’t deliberately form good habits, you unconsciously develop bad ones.

Albert Gray said, “Every single qualification for success is acquired through habit.”

Suppose you are all pumped up to get up in the morning at 5 AM and have done all the pre-requisites to accomplish it, but when the alarm rings at 5 AM, you turn it off and sleep with your back facing the clock.

Any decision or resolution you make is a promise to yourself (I might have made thousands of them by now), but only the habit of keeping it can produce the results. And unless you attach it with a strong purpose, you won’t form the habit of keeping it- a purpose you get to accomplish by keeping the promise.

To form the habit of making and keeping your promise, you must make and keep it daily. Missing any day would bring you to the beginning of this process. If you continue to make and keep your promise every day, a day will come when you will become a different person. And it would be the result of your control over your likes and dislikes by surrendering to your purpose. That’s the importance of having a life purpose. You can have as many purposes as you like until you make the promise and keep it every day.

“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.” — Alert E. N. Gray

Summary- Every success has a strong purpose behind it.

What: Successful people are willing to do what needs to be done, something they don’t necessarily like.

How: Successful people are driven by desired results, not favorable methods.

Why: Successful people have a purpose stronger than their dislikes.

Purpose fuels habits. The habit of not just making a promise but keeping the promise daily is vital for success.

Have a purpose or as many as you like for your life. Make sure it’s concrete and sentimental but is not logical and abstract.

With a purpose and a habit of keeping your promises, you already know the what, how, and why to succeed.