"If you ask a thousand people if they want to be rich, every one except the poet and the mystic will say yes. When you explain what is needed to become rich, maybe six hundred of that initial 998 will say, 'no problem, I can do that.'
But when push comes to shove, when they have to sacrifice everything else in their lives - having a spouse and children, a social life, possibly a spiritual life, maybe even pleasure - to meet their goal, almost all of them, too, will fall away. Only about six of the original thousand will continue on the hard path.
Most of us don't have the discipline to stay focused on a single goal for five, ten, or twenty years, giving up everything to bring it off, but that's what's necessary to become an Olympic champion, a world-class surgeon, or a Kirov Ballerina.
Even then, of course, it may be all in vain. You may make a single mistake that wipes out all the work. It may ruin the sweet, lovable self you were at seventeen. That old adage is true: You can do anything in life, you just can't do everything.
That's what Bacon meant when he said a wife and children were hostages to fortune. If you put them first, you probably won't run the three-and-a-half minute mile, make your first $10 million, write the great American novel, or go around the world on a motorcycle. Such goals take complete dedication.
Of course, not all of us believe that the goals the obsessive among us take on are good things. Was it sane of Captain Ahab to chase Moby Dick? Was it necessary for Roger Bannister to break the four-minute mile? Was it essential for Edmund Hillary to be the first man to climb Everest?
These were goals to which each man was willing to dedicate himself. Ahab drove his men with him to his goal, where all but one died. Even though he may be remembered with affection after he's won the war, during battle the colonel is hated for pushing his men into the enemy's jaws."
- Jim Rogers, in his best-selling book Investment Biker