Why the Price of Greatness is Responsibility

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill famously said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” This quote encapsulates the idea that great power and ability come with a price: the responsibility to use that power and ability responsibly and conscientiously. This article will explore the concept of responsible greatness and explain why it is essential for those who have achieved greatness to remain responsible.

What is Greatness?

Greatness itself is something that is hard to define. It is defined differently by each person, and rightfully so. We are each unique and walk a unique path in life. The Stoics believed that greatness was found in living a life of virtue by adhering to the principles of justice, courage, temperance, and wisdom. They believed that by living a life of virtue, a person could reach the highest level of human potential and thus be considered “great.” The modern definition of greatness is often the achievement of success, fame, power, or influence in a particular field or endeavor. 

Regardless of how you define greatness, it is generally true that it requires hard work and dedication, even by those with natural abilities. While many aspire to greatness, it is crucial to fully appreciate what it costs. High expectations from others, a lack of privacy, and increased pressure are all part of the price of greatness. However, as Churchill said, I believe that the highest cost of greatness is responsibility.

How is Greatness Achieved?


Greatness can generally be achieved through natural talent or hard work and dedication. Natural talent is a gift that can give someone a head start when it comes to achieving greatness. Those who are naturally talented may have an easier time achieving success. However, hard work and dedication are non-negotiables. A head start does not guarantee that a runner will finish the race.

Hard Work and Dedication

Hard work is essential for achieving greatness. It requires dedication and determination to put in the time and effort required to reach a high level of success. Those who are willing to work hard and persist in the face of adversity are more likely to achieve greatness.

Finally, dedication is an important factor in achieving greatness. Dedication means being committed to a task or goal and having the drive to pursue it. It can be a challenging trait to cultivate, but those who are genuinely dedicated to their craft often find success.

The Benefits of Responsible Greatness

Those who use their power and influence for good can enjoy the benefits of responsible greatness. These benefits include an improved reputation, a sense of accomplishment, and improved opportunities for growth.

Improved Reputation

An improved reputation is one of the most important benefits of responsible greatness. Those who use their power and influence for good can build a positive reputation, opening doors and leading to further success.

Sense of Accomplishment

A sense of accomplishment is another benefit of responsible greatness. Knowing that you have used your power and influence for good can give you a sense of pride that can be hard to find elsewhere.

Opportunity for Growth

Finally, responsible greatness can lead to improved opportunities for personal growth. Those responsible with their power and influence can open new doors and create new possibilities for themselves.

Responsible Greatness 

Responsible greatness is the idea that to be truly successful, you must commit to using your power to help others and accept responsibility for your actions. This includes both those in your immediate circle and those in need locally and globally. 

Take Bill Gates, for example. As the founder of Microsoft, he has the resources to make a significant impact in the world. And he has done just that – using his money and influence to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated billions of dollars to fight global poverty and disease. Say what you will about Bill Gates, but his commitment to responsible greatness has enabled millions of people to live healthier, more prosperous lives. 

During his reign, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius placed a high value on justice, wisdom, and moderation, choosing to live a simple life despite his immense power. Throughout his reign, he was committed to helping those in need and was known to provide food and shelter to the poor, often choosing to give away his own wealth to help those in need. He also believed in the importance of education and used his influence to establish schools throughout the empire. He was a strong advocate for peace and diplomacy and worked to create alliances with neighboring nations. His example of self-sacrifice is a reminder that true greatness comes from putting the needs of others before one’s own.

As the example of Queen Elizabeth I of England teaches us, responsible greatness also involves taking responsibility for one’s actions. Her reign was known as the “Golden Age of England” due to the advances in science, exploration, and the arts that she helped to foster. Yet, she took responsibility for her actions and held herself accountable for her decisions. She was known to accept criticism and to provide explanations for her decisions when necessary. She was also known to take responsibility for her mistakes, such as when she failed to provide a male heir to the throne. Her example of taking responsibility for her actions is one that should be remembered and emulated today.

Use Greatness Responsibility

Responsible greatness involves both helping others and taking responsibility for our actions. This means committing to using our power and influence to make a positive difference in whatever way we can. It also involves accepting responsibility for our mistakes and striving to learn and grow from them. Those who practice responsible greatness understand that it is their duty to use their power for good. They understand that true greatness lies in using their power to help others and in taking responsibility for their actions.

Join the Discussion:

What does greatness mean to you?

What responsibilities do you think come with greatness?

What is the easiest way to make a difference today?

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