The Common Denominator Of Successful People

secrets of success - don't settle for mediocrity

The Common Denominator Of Success – Take My Success Quiz

Has it ever occurred to you to wonder why some people get the breaks … and you don’t?

What does Sir Richard Branson have that you don’t?

Okay, well nowadays the answer to that is probably quite a lot, but he started out with the same opportunities as most other people.  In case you think I’ve chosen a bad example, read up on the life stories of Oprah or Henry Ford or Walt Disney.  Or get to know Will Smith, Tony Robbins or Brendon Burchard’s tales.

If you look at the external circumstances of their lives, although anyone could pick out some detail and say that’s what caused their immense success, I don’t think you’d find a common denominator.

To find that, we’d have to look elsewhere.  Let’s play with a hypothesis.  I believe that’s what decent scientists and detectives do.  I learned to do it through neither of those disciplines, but during my training as a psychotherapist. 

You form a hypothesis as to why some dysfunctional behaviour is happening and test it until it either fails or holds up.  If it holds up, change will occur if you, (the therapist), make the right intervention.

My hypothesis is that every super-successful person somehow overcomes or learns to tune out negative social and cultural conditioning.

secrets of success - ignore your conditioning

What do I mean by that?

For a start, we all had parents, (or someone who stood in for our biological parents.)  Even if they were the most loving parents in the world, they came pre-loaded with two major flaws:

They were at least one generation behind you.  (I say at least because some people have older parents and there are a significant number of people who are brought up by their grandparents).

The second big flaw?  They had parents too!  (So you can’t blame them for everything!)

They were not alone, however, in indoctrinating you with all kinds of claptrap that may have sabotaged your success, whilst the Bransons, Winfreys, etc of this world somehow found a natural way to overcome theirs.

For the rest of us, enter teachers, peer group, TV and these days of course, social networks.  They all had – and continue to have – their part to play in our brainwashing!

Let’s take some common examples so you can see what I’m driving at.

Take this Quick Success Quiz …

Don’t think too deeply about your answers – the whole idea is to go with the first impulse.  Ready?

1. Do you believe the world is essentially a dangerous place?  Y/N

2. When considering a big project or venture, do you first of all consider, “What if it all goes wrong?”  Y/N

3. If someone compliments you for something you’ve done or achieved, do you a) accept the compliment graciously or b) say, “Oh, it was nothing really.  Anyone could have done the same.”?

4. True or False: The best way to become seriously wealthy is through hard work. (T/F)

Okay, now I hope you didn’t cheat and skip ahead to the answers!

Let’s go through them.

1. There are many dangerous things in this world, of course, from hungry lions to earthquakes and wars.  But statistically, most things are all right most of the time.  The very fact that you are here, that you are able to read and understand this and that in order to do so you almost certainly have easy access to some kind of computer device is overwhelming evidence that not only is the world extremely safe, but that your chances of surviving with a high quality lifestyle into old age are enormously high!

I’m not in any way wanting to diminish or demean the awful things that can – and are – happening around the world.  I just want to give you a perspective on them.

Let’s look at question two.

Whilst challenges may occur with any project, as already pointed out, most things are all right anyway.  For the blips that occur, even the briefest of trawls through your memory banks will enable you to find dozens, possibly hundreds, of examples of times where you’ve overcome some adversity, large or small, and you either prevailed or some other unexpected and unforeseeable good fortune eventually came out of it.

Okay, question three.

Although other people may well be equipped to achieve whatever it was you were complimented about, the fact is that nobody could have done it exactly the way you did.  Besides which, you did whatever it was this time and they didn’t.  Out of the 7 billion people alive today, and of the 100 billion who’ve been before us, not to mention the billions yet to come, you are utterly unique among them.  There could not possibly be such a thing as “just an ordinary person.”  Your ideas, beliefs, skills, mannerisms, humour … everything … make up a package which means you have a unique hallmark on everything you do … and you leave a unique impression on everyone whose lives you touch.

All right … the best way to become seriously wealthy.

secrets of success - how to become wealthy

I imagine this one is going to cause the most controversy amongst my readers.  However, in the long term I’m going to say that the only way to become – and remain – seriously wealthy is through investment.  This isn’t to say that very wealthy people don’t work hard.  (It would be difficult to think of harder working people than Oprah Winfrey or Will Smith, for example), but they don’t work for the money.  At least, they don’t have to.

I recall hearing Sir Paul McCartney in a radio interview some years ago.  I think he was in his fifties at the time and about to embark on a huge tour to promote his latest album.  The interviewer asked him why he kept touring at his age.  “After all,” he put it to Sir Paul, “presumably you don’t need the money?”

McCartney’s answer hit the proverbial nail square on the head.

“I’ve never done it for the money,” he said simply.

Now, we could argue the details of the answers to my quiz until late into the night, but that would be to entirely miss my point.  I know the quiz is a huge generalisation, but I bet a lot of people will recognise themselves in at least a couple of those answers.

My point is simply this: Most of us buy into a lot of negative, self sabotaging clap trap, and it’s through no fault of our own because we’ve absorbed most of it by the time we’re seven years old.  At that age we have not the faintest hope of analysing it, let alone coming up with any more resourceful alternatives – ones that would actually lead to our personal success and happiness.

As a result, we lower our expectations of ourselves.  We abandon our dreams.  And we live, at best, a kind of compromise.

So, are we stuck with mediocrity for life?

secrets of success - be yourself

Not at all!

The great news is that you can change all of it – and free yourself to succeed, beyond even your wildest expectations.


Well, you can’t go back and undo what was done, of course.

Instead, what happens is that when you don’t get where you thought you wanted to go, you’ll come with a reason why.  And, if you tune in, you’ll notice a feeling behind your explanation too.  It might be a little knotting of the stomach, or a tensing of the shoulders, and of course, there may be an accompanying sense of frustration or disappointment.

Those are useful clues!

You can tune into those reactions … and using NLP you can change them.  And you can do it literally in a few minutes.

Here’s how that works.

Suppose you slip on some ice.  You feel annoyed because you were in your best suit and now it’s ripped.  And then, as you pick yourself up, you mutter, “I suppose one day I’ll look back on this and laugh!”

The question is: how will you make that change?  How will you shift from annoyance to humour?

The ability to feel differently about any experience is already built in – we just don’t utilise it well, if at all.

NLP – or Neuro-Linguistic Programming to give it it’s full name – has enabled me to change my life beyond recognition, and that’s no exaggeration.

For example, I once believed that I was stuck on a treadmill, doing a highly stressful job with lower and lower job satisfaction, because I had to pay the bills.  Once I realised that it was only a belief holding me prisoner, I used NLP and these days have a successful online business which I run from home.

I also suffered from chronic low self esteem until well into my thirties.  I didn’t dare ask women for dates – especially if they were very beautiful.  Again, I challenged my beliefs on that – and now I’ve been married to a gorgeous, intelligent, wise and witty woman for a decade.

There is literally no part of your life you cannot change if you desire to.  Maybe Branson, Winfrey, Smith and co figured out for themselves how to bypass the conditioning clap-trap, but for me, maybe you, and the rest of us, I found a toolkit that works every time.

You can find out about my NLP based “Instant Breakthrough” program if you’d like to try these ideas for yourself HERE…

Meanwhile, if you have any comments about this article or the quiz, please feel free to join the conversation below.


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