Martin Lewis on Success: Talent, Hard Work, Focus, and the Role of Luck

Based on,really%20want%20to%20be%20successful.

In a thought-provoking discourse, Martin Lewis sheds light on the foundational elements of success. His insights, distilled from personal experience and observation, outline a framework not just for aspiring to succeed but for reevaluating what success truly means to each of us. Here’s a deeper dive into Lewis’s four pillars of success: talent, hard work, focus, and luck, and the nuanced perspective he offers on balancing success with personal happiness.

1. Talent: The Starting Point

Lewis begins with talent, acknowledging it as the first prerequisite for success. This innate or cultivated ability sets the foundation for achievement in any field. However, talent alone isn’t enough. The world is teeming with talented individuals in various domains, not just in academia or intellectual pursuits. What then, makes the difference? Lewis prompts us to consider that talent needs to be recognized, nurtured, and, most importantly, paired with the other elements of success.

2. Hard Work: The Differentiator

The willingness to put in more hours, to strive harder and longer than others, is often what differentiates the successful from the talented masses. Lewis’s own testament to working 90 hours a week for a decade underlines the sheer commitment required to achieve extraordinary levels of success. Yet, he introduces a critical interrogation of this pursuit: Is the vocational pinnacle of success worth the sacrifice? This reflection on hard work versus personal happiness and life satisfaction is a pivotal moment in his discourse, encouraging us to weigh our definitions of success against what truly makes us happy.

3. Focus: The Narrow Path to Excellence

Focus demands a narrowing of vision—choosing a path and excelling within its confines. Lewis underscores the importance of being the best in a specific domain. The broader your scope, the harder it becomes to stand out. This precision of purpose and clarity of goal-setting is what can drive an individual from being merely talented or hardworking to being truly exceptional.

4. Luck: The Uncontrollable Variable

Finally, Lewis introduces luck as the unpredictable factor that can sway outcomes despite one’s talent, hard work, and focus. The acknowledgment of luck as a critical component of success is humbling, serving as a reminder that failure is not always within our control. Lewis’s perspective on luck and failure offers a grounding counterbalance to the narrative of success being solely a product of effort and determination. It’s a call to resilience, encouraging us not to despair in the face of setbacks but to view them as part of the journey.

Success vs. Happiness: A Deliberate Choice

In intertwining the pursuit of success with the pursuit of happiness, Lewis challenges us to think deeply about what we truly seek from our lives. The implicit question throughout his talk is whether the traditional markers of success—wealth, recognition, professional achievement—are worth the sacrifices they demand.

This reflection isn’t meant to dissuade from ambition but to ensure that our ambitions align with our values and visions for a fulfilling life. Success, in Lewis’s discourse, is not a one-size-fits-all destination but a personal journey that balances achievement with contentment.


Martin Lewis’s discourse on success is a powerful reminder that while talent, hard work, and focus are within our control, luck plays a significant role in our achievements. More importantly, his insights prompt a deeper contemplation of what it means to be successful and how this pursuit aligns with our overall happiness and life satisfaction. As we navigate our paths, let Lewis’s reflections guide us not only towards achieving our goals but in making choices that bring us joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose.

Life Lessons from Horses

Have you ever observed a horse with blinkers during a race? These simple yet powerful tools offer a profound lesson in focus and concentration that we can apply to our own lives.

Understanding the Purpose of Blinkers

Horses, by nature, have a panoramic field of vision. It’s a survival trait, allowing them to be acutely aware of their surroundings. However, this can be a drawback in situations where concentration and forward vision are crucial, like in racing. That’s where blinkers come in. They narrow the horse’s field of view, keeping them focused on what’s directly ahead and reducing distractions from the periphery.

Drawing Parallels to Human Focus

Much like horses, we live in a world brimming with distractions. Our ‘panoramic view’ comes from smartphones, endless notifications, multitasking demands, and the constant pull of social media. While this wide scope of attention can be beneficial, it often scatters our focus, diminishing our efficiency and effectiveness in tasks that require concentrated effort.

Applying the Blinker Principle

So, how can we apply the ‘blinker principle’ to enhance our focus?

  1. Create Your Mental Blinkers: Identify your main task and deliberately block out non-essential distractions. This could be turning off notifications, finding a quiet workspace, or setting specific times for checking emails.
  2. Train Your Focus: Just as horses are trained to adapt to blinkers, we can train our minds. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or simply practicing dedicated focus time can enhance our ability to concentrate.
  3. Understand Your Field of Vision: Recognize the importance of peripheral awareness but learn when to narrow your focus. Balancing broad awareness with the ability to zoom in on specific tasks is key.
  4. Set Clear Goals: A horse races towards a clear finish line. Similarly, set clear, achievable goals for each focus session to give direction to your efforts.
  5. Regular Breaks Are Essential: Just as a horse doesn’t wear blinkers all the time, constant focused work isn’t sustainable for us. Schedule regular breaks to rest and reset.

Conclusion: Harnessing Our Inner Strength

By learning from the use of blinkers in horses, we can harness our inner strength to focus more effectively in our daily lives. It’s about understanding when to narrow our field of vision and when to take in the broader view. By doing so, we can improve our productivity, reduce stress, and achieve a more fulfilling balance in our work and personal lives.

The One thing

“The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is filled with valuable insights that can significantly impact how we approach our goals and tasks.

one quote that summarizes a lot of this page “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell

Here are five key takeaways from the book:


  1. The Focusing Question: One of the central concepts of the book is the Focusing Question: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This question is designed to help you constantly realign your focus to the most impactful task or goal.
  2. The Domino Effect: The authors use the analogy of a line of dominoes to explain how focusing on the most important task creates a chain reaction of productivity and success. Just as a single domino can initiate the toppling of many others, focusing on your “one thing” can set off a cascade of positive outcomes.
  3. The 80/20 Principle: The book emphasizes the Pareto Principle, which suggests that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. By identifying and focusing on the tasks that yield the most significant results, you can achieve more with less effort.
  4. Time Blocking: Keller and Papasan advocate for time blocking as a method to ensure dedicated focus on your “one thing.” This involves setting aside a specific time in your schedule when you concentrate solely on your most important task, free from distractions.
  5. Discipline and Habit Formation: The book stresses the importance of discipline in the early stages of focusing on your one thing. Over time, this discipline transforms into a habit, making it easier to maintain focus and achieve consistent results.

The Myth of Multitasking and the Cost of Task-Switching

One of the central tenets of “The One Thing” is the critique of multitasking, a practice often glorified in our fast-paced, productivity-obsessed culture. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not equate to efficiency. In fact, it often leads to the opposite – decreased productivity and quality of work. This inefficiency primarily stems from the hidden cost of task-switching.

When we multitask, we aren’t truly performing multiple tasks simultaneously. Instead, we are rapidly switching our focus from one task to another. Each of these switches comes with a cognitive cost, often referred to as the “switching cost.” Our brains need time to change gears when moving from one activity to another. This adjustment period, though it may seem insignificant in the moment, accumulates over time, leading to a substantial loss in productivity.

Moreover, task-switching can degrade the quality of our work. When we continuously shift our attention, we’re never fully engaged with any single task. This lack of deep focus can result in errors, lower-quality outcomes, and a superficial understanding or execution of tasks. It’s akin to skimming the surface of the water without ever diving in to explore the depth.

The cognitive load of juggling multiple tasks also leads to increased mental fatigue. When our brains are constantly redirected, it can lead to a sense of exhaustion, stress, and even burnout. This is counterproductive not only in terms of immediate output but also in terms of long-term well-being and job satisfaction.

In essence, multitasking is a deceptive practice. It promises increased productivity but often results in more time spent, lower quality of work, and increased stress. The philosophy of “The One Thing” challenges this norm, encouraging us to embrace the power of focused, sequential task completion. By dedicating our full attention to one task at a time, we can work more efficiently, produce higher-quality results, and reduce the mental strain associated with constant task-switching. This approach underscores the idea that less can indeed be more – less scattering of attention leads to more profound, impactful, and satisfying work.

The Dangers of Multitasking: Driving While Using a Phone

The risks associated with multitasking are not just limited to decreased productivity or quality of work; in some instances, it can be downright dangerous. A quintessential example of this is the act of using a phone while driving. When drivers attempt to multitask in this manner, they are significantly increasing their risk of accidents.

Driving requires a high level of cognitive attention, encompassing everything from spatial awareness and speed control to reaction to sudden changes in the traffic environment. Introducing a phone into this scenario divides the driver’s attention. Texting, browsing, or even talking on the phone while driving leads to a dramatic reduction in the brain’s ability to fully process the task of driving. This divided attention can result in slower reaction times, missed signals, and a decreased awareness of other vehicles and pedestrians.

Statistics and studies consistently show that driving while using a phone is a leading cause of road accidents, often with tragic consequences. This is a clear, real-world example of how attempting to split focus between two complex tasks can lead to severe, sometimes irreversible, outcomes. It underscores the importance of focusing on one task at a time, not just for efficiency and productivity but for safety and well-being. In contexts like driving, multitasking isn’t just unproductive; it’s irresponsible and hazardous. This example amplifies the message of “The One Thing”: the necessity of singular focus in situations where the stakes are high, and the cost of distraction is immense.

The Imperative of Focus in Surgery: The Surgeon’s Need to Avoid Multitasking

Another poignant example of the critical need for singular focus can be found in the operating room with surgeons performing complex procedures. In surgery, the stakes are incredibly high, with patient safety and outcomes directly hinging on the surgeon’s ability to concentrate and perform with precision. Multitasking in such a setting is not just impractical; it’s potentially life-threatening.

Surgical procedures require an intense level of detail, coordination, and situational awareness. Surgeons must be attuned to the nuances of the human body, the specifics of the procedure at hand, and the dynamics of the surgical team. Introducing additional tasks or distractions into this environment can compromise the surgeon’s attention, leading to errors, oversights, and in the worst cases, critical complications. For instance, a surgeon attempting to consult notes or communicate about unrelated matters while performing surgery could miss vital cues or make imprecise movements.

This scenario emphasizes the importance of undivided attention and the dangers of task-splitting in high-stakes professions. It is a testament to the core principle of “The One Thing” – that excellence in any complex, high-precision task demands an unwavering focus. In the case of surgeons, the ability to concentrate on one thing at a time isn’t just a matter of efficiency or productivity; it’s a matter of professional responsibility and ethical practice, where the cost of distraction could be a human life. Such examples powerfully illustrate the broader implications of the principles discussed in the book, extending beyond the realms of personal productivity into areas where focus can have profound and far-reaching consequences.

Test your own multitasking

To test your multitasking ability, try the below simple test

You should time yourself during each iteration to see how long it takes.

For me it took almost twice as long while trying to multask.

Iteration 1 (not mulitasking)

  1. Write the sentence “Hello world a wonderful day”.
  2. On the next line, write the numbers “12345 67 8 9101112131415”.

Iteration 2 (mulitasking)

  1. Write the letter ‘H’ on line 1.
  2. Write the number ‘1’ on line 2.
  3. Write the next letter ‘e’ on line 1.
  4. Write the next number ‘2’ on line 2.
  5. Continue this pattern until you have written the entire sentence “Hello world a wonderful day” and the numbers “12345 67 8 9101112131415”.

Time yourself during each iteration to see how long it takes to complete the tasks.

This will give you insight into how multitasking impacts your speed and accuracy.

The Parable of the Stonecutter

Once there was a stonecutter. He was tasked with breaking a huge boulder. He struck the rock with his hammer and chisel once, twice, a hundred times, and the boulder remained unyielding. Yet, he persisted, focusing on one specific spot. On the 101st blow, the boulder finally split in two. It wasn’t the final blow that did it, but all 101 hits combined, each one building upon the last. His success was the result of his unwavering focus and persistent effort on one spot, one task.

Video Summary


“The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan teaches us about the power of focusing on our most impactful tasks. It isn’t about doing more things; it’s about doing the right things and doing them well. The parable of the stonecutter mirrors this philosophy. The stonecutter’s success was not a result of a singular, powerful strike but rather the cumulative effect of consistent, focused effort.

In our own lives, whether in personal or professional arenas, the key to extraordinary results lies in identifying and committing to our “one thing.” By asking ourselves the focusing question, embracing the domino effect, applying the 80/20 principle, dedicating time specifically for our crucial tasks, and building disciplined habits, we can achieve more than we thought possible.

The lessons from “The One Thing” are simple yet profound. They challenge the multitasking, ‘busy equals productive’ mindset that often dominates our work culture. Instead, the book guides us towards a more thoughtful, purposeful approach to our goals and actions. By focusing our efforts like the stonecutter, we can create our own series of impactful, successful strikes in life and work.

Five Key Strategies for Kick-Starting Your Workday with Focus

Struggling to find focus at the start of your workday can feel like trying to navigate through fog. However, with the right strategies, you can clear the haze and set a productive tone for your day. Here are five essential tips to help you kick-start your working day when focus seems elusive.

1. Start with a Single Pomodoro Session

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. Begin your day with just one Pomodoro session focused on a specific task. This approach helps build momentum and sets a productive rhythm for the rest of your day.

2. Step Outside for Fresh Air

Never underestimate the power of fresh air to refresh your mind. Take a few minutes to step outside, breathe deeply, and stretch. This brief break from your work environment can reset your mental state and improve concentration.

3. Set One Core Focus for the Day

Instead of overwhelming yourself with a lengthy to-do list, choose one core focus for the day. This could be a significant task or a small project that you commit to completing. Having a single focus can streamline your efforts and enhance your productivity.

4. Practice Mindful Breathing or Meditation

Begin your day with a short session of mindful breathing or meditation. Even just five minutes can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and improve your ability to concentrate. This practice can be particularly beneficial on days when you feel scattered or anxious.

5. Turn Off Your Phone

In today’s hyper-connected world, our phones can be a constant source of distraction. To truly focus on your personal growth and happiness, consider setting aside specific times during the day when you turn off your phone. This simple act can help reduce stress, increase focus, and allow for more meaningful engagement with the present moment. Whether it’s during your morning routine, while learning something new, or during your personal reflection time, disconnecting from the digital world can significantly enhance your overall sense of well-being.

6. Self-Reflection: Assessing Your Needs

Self-awareness is key to personal development. Regularly take a moment for self-reflection to assess what has changed in your life and what your current needs are. Ask yourself: Do I need to exercise to energize my body or to relieve stress? Am I hungry or thirsty? Do I need a moment of quiet or perhaps a stimulating conversation? Understanding and addressing these fundamental needs can dramatically improve your focus, planning, and overall happiness. This reflective practice encourages you to tune into your body and mind, fostering a deeper connection with yourself.

QuickFire Approach to moving fowards

  1. Reflect on the Cause of Struggle: When you find yourself struggling to focus or feeling unproductive, step away from your computer for 5 minutes. Ask yourself: Is my struggle due to lack of focus, tiredness, or something else? Identifying the root cause can help in addressing it more effectively.
  2. Take Remedial Action: Based on your reflection, take appropriate action. If it’s tiredness, consider a brief nap or some physical activity. If it’s a lack of focus, try a mindfulness exercise or a change of scenery.
  3. Eliminate Distractions: Before starting a Pomodoro session, make sure your workspace is free from distractions. This might involve turning off phone notifications, closing unnecessary browser tabs, or informing others that you need some undisturbed time.
  4. Use the Pomodoro Technique for a Simple Task: Set a Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes and choose a simple, manageable task to complete. This could be responding to an important email, organizing your workspace, or planning your day. The accomplishment of this task can provide a sense of achievement and build momentum for tackling more complex tasks.
  5. Evaluate and Adjust: After completing the Pomodoro session, take a moment to evaluate your productivity. Did removing distractions and focusing on a single task help? Use this insight to adjust your approach for the next session or the next day.

These steps are designed to help identify and address productivity challenges, create an environment conducive to focus, and establish a rhythm for a successful workday.


Starting your workday with focus can be a challenge, especially on days when motivation is low. By implementing these five strategies, you can create an environment and mindset conducive to productivity and success. Remember, the key is to work smarter, not harder, and these tips are designed to help you do just that.

Also see

Revitalize Your Workday: – Mentally Unstick Yourself During the Day: The Power of a 5-Minute Happiness Burst

3 Daily Habits

3 Daily Habits Ideas largely taken from

The Habits are:

  1. Organize tomorrow today – Don’t let other people determine your priorities. a Good idea is Just before lunch, start planning for tomorrow. Split it into:
    • nice to have done,
    • the top 3 priorities
    • 1 must do.
  2. Say no – focus on whats important to you.
  3. Focus on 1 thing at a time. Focus on the next step us the strength of technology rather than get swallowed by it (getting swamped by new applications or lots of email)

Also See

The One thing

Nano Tips to Boost Productivity


In the quest for enhanced productivity and effective habit formation, small steps can lead to big changes. The key lies in the power of two minutes and a few other strategic approaches.

David Allen is a productivity consultant and author, best known for creating the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method. This methodology focuses on stress-free productivity by encouraging people to move tasks out of their minds and into a system of lists and reminders. The “two-minute rule” is a famous element of this method, suggesting that if a task takes less than two minutes, it should be done immediately to avoid cluttering one’s mind and to-do list. Allen’s approach has been influential in personal and corporate productivity.

The Two-Minute Rule

David Allen’s principle is simple: if a task takes less than two minutes, do it right away. This approach prevents small tasks from accumulating and eating into your mental bandwidth.

Focusing Techniques

  • Five-Minute Focus: If you’re struggling with a task, set a timer for five minutes and give it your full attention.
  • Grouping Tasks: Organize similar tasks together on your to-do list to streamline your workflow.

Managing Distractions

  • Recording Distractions: When distracted, jot the thought down on a to-do list and return your focus to the task at hand.
  • Minimizing Multitasking: Focus on one task at a time for greater efficiency.
  • Refocusing: Develop the skill to swiftly shift your focus back to the task after a distraction.

Using Deadlines and Reviews

  • Deadline-Driven Focus: Set deadlines to enhance your focus on tasks.
  • Back to Basics Review: Record your activities every 10 minutes to identify time sinks.

Productivity Techniques

  • Pomodoro Technique: Work in focused bursts with short breaks to maintain high levels of productivity.
  • Scheduled Breaks: If you’re struggling, incorporate more breaks to rejuvenate.

Learning from Struggles

  • Embrace Learning: If productivity is a significant challenge, focus on learning and understanding the root of the problem.


By integrating these strategies, including the two-minute rule, you can significantly boost productivity and establish positive habits. Small, consistent efforts can lead to remarkable improvements in managing your time and tasks.

Impact Code

Taken from

My Takeaways

  • If you are in the room, be in the room (focus)
  • Keep pushing your comfort zone
  • Don’t be scared of failure
  • Use each second, minute , hour and day wisely as we never get tomorrow back.
  • Think of time in your life as a bank account, at the end of each day 86,400 seconds disappear
  • Model yourself on your heroes
  • When you hit adversity think how children learn to walk get up and try again
  • Every day is an opportunity to change things for the better
  • Getting the right kind of help:


Imagine you are a carpenter, and you have various tasks like sawing wood, hammering nails, and drilling holes. If you use a hammer for a job that requires a saw, not only will you not accomplish the task effectively, but you’ll also potentially ruin the material and waste time.

Ask the right person for help

Similarly, when you seek help at work, make sure that the person you’re asking has the specific skills or knowledge you need for that particular problem. Just like you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, you shouldn’t ask someone from sales to help you debug a complex software issue unless they have relevant experience.


In summary, always make sure you’re reaching out to the ‘right tool’ — in this case, the person or resource — best equipped to assist you in solving your particular challenge.

What kind of people are you working with?

Taken from

Table of Contents


“Be In The Room” is a philosophy propagated by Nigel Risner, a well-regarded motivational speaker. The essence of this philosophy is to encourage individuals to be fully present and engaged in whatever situation they find themselves, thereby enhancing their relationships and effectiveness in their endeavors. Below is a detailed explanation

The Details

  1. Concentration on the Task at Hand
    • The phrase “Be In The Room” signifies focusing 100% on the ongoing task or conversation, whether it’s in a meeting, a challenge that has been set, or any other situation that requires your attention. This implies being mentally and physically present to ensure that the task is completed effectively​1​​2​.
  2. Being in the Present:
    • The philosophy also extends to being in the present moment, which is crucial for transforming one’s life, career, or even making a broader impact. Being fully present helps in building stronger relationships and achieving set goals​3​.
  3. Avoiding Distractions:
    • It’s common to find oneself in situations where the mind wanders, even during critical times. This diversion is detrimental as it can significantly reduce the effort put into the task and can have a counter-productive effect on the respect gained from others and for oneself. If you find your attention drifting, the idea is to bring yourself back to the room and refocus on the ongoing task or conversation​2​.
  4. Enhancing Respect and Interaction:
    • By giving full, undivided attention during interactions or tasks, individuals show respect to others involved, which in turn, garners respect for themselves. It’s about being interested, getting involved, and thinking about what one can contribute rather than what can be gained from the situation​2​.
  5. Applicability in Daily Life:
    • The philosophy is not confined to formal settings like meetings but extends to everyday interactions and tasks, emphasizing the importance of being fully engaged regardless of the perceived significance of the situation​2​.
  6. Improving Meeting Efficiency:
    • Aligning with the philosophy of being fully present, it is suggested that meetings should be concise and never exceed 20 minutes to ensure everyone remains engaged and the objectives are met efficiently​2​.
  7. Self-awareness:
    • It also ties back to self-awareness and understanding the importance of being in the “room” in one’s personal and professional life, which is crucial for success and effective communication with others​4​.

This philosophy, as simple as it seems, can have profound effects on personal and professional effectiveness, relationships, and overall success.


is a philosophy advocated by motivational speaker Nigel Risner, emphasizing the importance of being fully present and engaged in the current task or interaction. It encourages individuals to concentrate wholly on the ongoing situation, whether in meetings or daily tasks, to enhance relationships, respect from others, and overall effectiveness.

By avoiding distractions, being interested, and involved, individuals can transform their personal and professional lives, making a broader impact. This philosophy, extending to every aspect of life, promotes self-awareness, efficient communication, and a mindful approach to daily engagements.