The Price of Glory: What Legends Give Up to Achieve Greatness

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Get Inspired

What does it really take to go down in history as one of the greats?

We all have people we look up to – artists, activists, athletes, entrepreneurs. Their names echo through time as synonymous with triumph and lasting impact. But how did they get there? What allowed them to reach such iconic status?

As it turns out, true greatness demands a level of obsession and sacrifice that most of us would consider insane.

It requires giving every ounce of yourself to a singular purpose, shutting out almost everything else in your life. It means reshaping your very identity around your quest for glory.

What would you be willing to give up to achieve your own impossible dreams?

The All-Consuming Nature of Greatness

greatness demands hard work

When we look back at those rare individuals who achieved lasting greatness in any field, a pattern emerges. Their lives were not balanced or moderate. They weren’t well-rounded or relaxed.

Quite the opposite – they were completely consumed by their craft and rendered almost incapable of focusing on anything else. Their ambition crowded out normalcy and comfort.

Consider some prime examples we all know:

  • Michael Jordan was renowned for his maniacal work ethic, practicing shooting for hours after games well into the night. His competitive obsession to be the greatest arguably cost him his first marriage.
  • Albert Einstein was known to get so lost in his work that he would go for days without changing his clothes or remembering to eat. His family life suffered tremendously due to his absence of mind.
  • Pablo Picasso created an astounding 50,000 works of art in his lifetime, sometimes painting for over 24 hours straight in a trance-like state. His ferocious output came at the expense of healthy routines and relationships.

Clearly, a balanced life was not the priority for these legends. They sacrificed normality to actualize their potential for greatness.

The same is true for great achievers throughout history. Their lives were far from balanced.

Greatness was the only lens through which they saw the world.

This should prompt us to look in the mirror and ask: How much am I willing to give up to become the absolute best I can be?

The Prices You Must Pay

Greatness comes at an extreme price. For most of us, the costs are too staggering to accept. But for legends across fields, they gladly paid the price in full.

Here are some of the sacrifices greatness demands:

Your Time

  • Say goodbye to downtime and leisure. Your days will be filled to the brim in the relentless pursuit of excellence. Breaks are rare luxuries, not rights.
  • Be prepared to outwork everyone around you. Long nights and early mornings should become routine as you squeeze every ounce from your day.

Your Loved Ones

  • The people closest to you will face neglect as your focus narrows. If they cannot support your journey, painful disconnects might be necessary.
  • Your family may have to play second fiddle to your craft. Holidays and special occasions take a backseat when glory calls.

Your Health

  • Your body will suffer as you push beyond normal limits. Illness and injury will occur. Expect pain and deal with problems later.
  • Regular sleep, healthy food and exercise all become luxuries you cannot afford on the path to greatness. Physical health is not a priority.

Your Wealth

  • True greatness is never achieved in the pursuit of riches. Be prepared to live cheaply and without stable income for long stretches.
  • Money for its own sake will hold little appeal as you focus solely on your mission. Material gain is meaningless versus lasting impact.


  • At your core, you must become someone entirely different than who you are today to reach greatness. It necessitates destroying pieces of your current self.
  • You will emerge on the other side entirely reshaped and unrecognizable from your previous identity. It is a rebirth through sacrifice.

As you can see, the price tag is steep. But history shows the returns are worth it for those singularly focused on transcending the realm of the ordinary.

The Question Before You

Crossroads in life - Don't stay stuck

Now you stand at a crossroads. You can continue to live a balanced life of comfort and moderation like most people. That is absolutely a sane choice, and one that leads to happiness for many.

But can you be truly extraordinary without an unreasonable level of sacrifice and single-minded pursuit of greatness? The evidence points to “no.”

Legendary figures across fields paid absurd prices in exchange for their slice of immortality. But they deemed it worth the costs.

Now you must decide: how far am I willing to go to achieve my ultimate ambition?

Am I ready to obsess, sacrifice, suffer, risk everything and become someone new in the all-out pursuit of greatness? Or will I settle for a life of modest contentment in favor of balance?

There is no right answer. But understand the trade-off before making your choice.

Principles of the All-In Life

For those who choose to be all-in in chasing their wildest dream, the path ahead will be filled with challenge and sacrifice. But time-tested principles can keep you on course:

1. Crystallize Your Purpose

You must know exactly why you’re willing to sacrifice so much. Let your monumental ambition fill you with energy and passion. Choose goals worthy of obsession.

2. Make No Room for Balance

Give every spare moment to your craft. Crowd out distractions and trivial pursuits. Remove anything in your life that steals focus from your purpose.

3. Outwork Everyone

Use Action as your Advantage. Put in marathon hours to inch ahead while others relax. Sweat the smallest details relentlessly. Effort trumps talent.

4. Take Extreme Risks

Fortune favors the bold. Be willing to put it all on the line. Take on challenges intelligent people would avoid. Live on the edge of your capabilities.

5. Become Blind to the Opinions of Others

You will face endless critics and doubters. But remember the most revolutionary ideas faced resistance at first. Stay fixed on your own inner compass.

6. View Failure as Data

Falling short will happen. Absorb the lesson, but do not lose heart. Remain fixated on the end goal, not any temporary defeat. Each failure brings you closer.

7. Demand the Impossible From Yourself

Average is easy. Extraordinary takes unreasonable sacrifice. Cross lines others won’t. Take risks most would call irrational or extreme. Do not settle.

8. Destroy Comfort

Glory requires suffering. Willingly take on pain in service of your ultimate ambition. Seek daily hardship and conquer it. Luxury and ease hold you back. Discomfort propels you onward.

9. Continually Rebirth Your Identity

Become someone new daily. Shed pieces of your old self that no longer serve your purpose. Let your ambition transform you from the inside out. Embrace massive change.

10. Stay Insanely Hungry

The minute you are satisfied is the minute you begin to lose ground. However high you reach, never relent in pushing higher. Treat yourself as your greatest competitor.


We stand today at the edge of possibility. But crossing into the realm of greatness requires unreasonable sacrifice and risk.

This path is not for the faint of heart.

Yet, those willing to pay the price enter an exclusive club across history – the winged victors whose names echo through eternity.

The choice comes down to you and you alone.

Do you have the courage and commitment to seize your place among the greats? Destiny awaits your decision.