We all know working 80 hours a week will not get you rich. So why is that common advice successful people give? Because it is an important component if you are doing everything else.
Wealth comes from making good investments which end up paying out. We have 3 common resources. Our money, our ideas and our time. We can invest any of these to build any of these.
Example. I can spend time learning. By doing so my ideas CAN become worth more. Alternately I can invest money into time (spending money to have more time). The question of investment is whether your investments are paying out more that you are putting in. Especially in the realm of ideas that can be hard to identify. Does your learning help you either learn more, have more time or earn more money? If so, then it was a good investment.
As you make more and more good investments of time, ideas and money you get to where (if you are smart) you create free time, money or intellectual space to make new investments. In 1998 I set a goal for myself to have at least 1/2 of my time and monthly budget free to invest to either increase my wealth or to change the world in the ways I desire to.
I made it easier to do this by keeping my overhead low. My family can survive comfortably on less than 2k/mo, but we can earn a lot more than that. Everything between what we need and what we earn is freedom to invest or live the life we want. Additionally I only need to work about 15 hours a week to earn my money which means I can (and do) spend over 90 hours a week investing or living the life I want. (16 awake hours a day *7 days a week =112 available hours per week.)
The key here is the constant need to invest. If I sat back for longer than a couple months and didn't reinvest money and time I would backslide. My earnings per hour would decrease, and I would have to spend more time to earn less money.
I'm constantly exploring how to expand my businesses, start new businesses, invest in other businesses, learn new skills and automate aspects of my life to free up time. Many of these investments are a waste of my time, but it only takes a couple minor successes or one big one to cause your free time and/or money to leap forward. My big win was my online continuing education business. I've had smaller wins with my computer repair and website businesses which helped me do the continuing education project. I leveraged the freedom of time and money from the first wins to work for other ones.
What you don't usually see is the list of failures. I've had 2 computer businesses fail, five marketing companies fail, three computer game, software or app projects and six intellectual projects I spent hundreds of hours working on fail. I've lost tens of thousands of dollars to the wrong people and tools. I've failed to finish at least a dozen books and I've disappointed easily a few dozen people with failing to be able to do what I intended and started to do. That's not counting easily 3 explored ideas and opportunities a month which take at least 4 hours each to vet before I decide not to do them.
I'm not asking for sympathy. All those failures and the future ones to come are the risk I chose to attempt another big win. My next big win could be tomorrow or it could be in years. I don't know.
So is hard work and sacrifice the path to wealth? Depends on if you are making good investments which either increase your time, ideas or money. If not, no amount of work will make a difference.