By Derek Neighbors, Published on March 12, 2023
We all want to achieve greatness in life, but what does it take to get there? Is it enough to focus on balance and take the easy way out, or is greatness only achieved through great sacrifice? The truth is that greatness requires sacrifice, and those who are willing to put in the work and make sacrifices are the ones who achieve greatness.
The science behind the idea that greatness requires great sacrifice is rooted in the concept of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a specific type of practice that involves setting specific goals, getting feedback, and pushing oneself out of their comfort zone to improve performance. Research has shown that deliberate practice is the key to achieving greatness in any field.
One study conducted by K. Anders Ericsson, a leading expert on expertise and deliberate practice, found that deliberate practice accounted for approximately 80% of the differences in performance among elite athletes. The study also found that the amount of deliberate practice was a better predictor of performance than other factors such as natural ability or age of starting the activity.
Another study conducted by Ericsson and colleagues looked at the relationship between deliberate practice and performance in musicians. The study found that deliberate practice was a more accurate predictor of performance than natural ability. Specifically, the study found that deliberate practice accounted for approximately 21% of the variance in performance for music students and approximately 30% of the variance in performance for professional musicians.
Athletes, musicians, actors, and entrepreneurs all understand the importance of deliberate practice and the sacrifices it requires. Famous musicians such as Mozart and Beethoven spent countless hours practicing their instruments, while Meryl Streep, one of the most successful actresses in history, is known for her intense work ethic and dedication to her craft. Michael Jordan, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, spent countless hours practicing and training, sacrificing his personal life for his passion for basketball. Entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs worked tirelessly to build their companies, making great sacrifices along the way.
The truth is that focusing on balance can lead to mediocrity. If you want to achieve greatness in life, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to be willing to work harder than anyone else, put in the time, and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve your goals. And by engaging in deliberate practice, you can improve your performance and achieve a level of greatness that is unattainable through balance alone.
At the end of the day, greatness requires great sacrifice, and the science of deliberate practice provides evidence to support this idea. Deliberate practice is the key to achieving greatness in any field, and it requires sacrifice. By pushing oneself out of their comfort zone, setting specific goals, and focusing on deliberate practice, individuals can achieve a level of greatness that is unattainable through balance alone.
 Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406.
 Ericsson, K. A., & Lehmann, A. C. (1996). Expert and exceptional performance: Evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints. Annual Review of Psychology, 47(1), 273-305.