Sacrifice: Success’s Biggest Obstacle

In 2008, the self-help book industry was a multi-billion dollar industry (www.forbes.com). Books like Steven Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People and Eric Thomas’s The Secret to Success: When You Want To Succeed As Bad As You Want To Breathe provide readers with insight on how to take themselves to the next level to accomplish their dreams. As an avid self-help book reader myself, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends in these books. Some are obvious, as hard work and a revamped mentality are just some of the central themes. However, an overlooked aspect by readers that is vital for success is sacrifice.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines sacrifice as “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” Although the definition is simple, sacrifice is the farthest thing from easy. For a lot of people it’s the only thing holding them back from being who they want to be. Why is an easily comprehensible action such a difficult one to perform?

Sacrifice is not just the act of giving up something in order to gain another thing. Sacrifice cuts deep into one’s soul to create an uncomfortable lifestyle that is alien to most people. A lifestyle reupholstered with hard work, relentless faith in oneself, and change. Unfortunately, this transition from a normal lifestyle to this uncomfortable lifestyle is gruesome. Friends and family wonder why you stopped spending time with them and may betray one trying to succeed. Most who are trying to succeed are ostracized for thinking highly of themselves and their dreams. Furthermore, sleep is more of a burden than a blessing. In any case, the parameters of success scare those who have never striven to go outside their comfort zone. They fear that the work won’t produce results, that people will leave them, and that the pain of change cuts too deep. As a result, dreams are taken to the grave to never see the light of day out of fear.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Looking back at history, some of the greatest minds of all time had to go through this rocky transition. Michael Jordan was originally cut from his high school varsity basketball team. Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple Co., was a college dropout. Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace prizewinner, was shot three times because of her activism in child education. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney for lacking imagination and good ideas. Winston Churchill struggled in school and even failed the sixth grade. This is just the tip of the iceberg of failure among some of the greatest minds of all time.

What separates these great minds from the millions who gave up? They maintained a relentless faith in themselves in their dreams regardless of the failure they faced; they were passionate about themselves and their dreams; most importantly, they took the risk to sacrifice everything they had for their vision of a greater life. Ironically, that is the very essence of success. Dreams and aspirations are a risk that requires all of one’s time and energy. However, most people lose sight of their dreams because they don’t have a reason greater than their piss poor excuse of being satisfied with their current circumstances. To be comfortable being uncomfortable is foolish to them. Thus, sacrifice becomes an illusion and success becomes impossible.

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

The greatest asset the human experience has is time. Time is the only luxury and if it isn’t spent oneself and dreams then we’ll end up spiritually bankrupt. The greatest minds of all time found a reason to sacrifice what they had for a greater life. Whatever the reason was, it crushed all fear. Once their reason crushed all fear, they accomplished more than they thought they ever could. They realized that if one sows love, sacrifice, and faith, into one’s dreams, then one reaps a life greater than anything they could imagine. Fortunately, to sow or not to sow is for you to decide.

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