I think it can be argued that in the West that practical achievement and directed pursuit probably is like this at a core level—humans are capable extraordinary effort if the conditions (and pressures) are right. Parenthood is one of the things that is still like everything used to be—pushed to the edge of human capability because there isn’t another option. I think for many other modern pursuits a common failure mode is indulging in the eases and luxuries of modern existence—no such option with parenthood or language immersion.
Related thought: slogans like ‘Just Do It’ are effective because people grok that the human mind will trick you into taking easy way out if the option is there. ‘No excuses’ is an attractive motivating strategy and does usually work in the short term, but long term environment design is more imporant.