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Admiration of others' great feats and aspirations to emulate or surpass them is natural.
Cults are definitely something that can be done without if one values freedom in itself, including from rulers, icons and overbearing ideas. Desires and clarity can guide your quest to strive for your own notion of enjoyment in a path of pain and pleasure which you may call greatness, but to see that as superior to humble idleness, which might be what someone else desires, is just ideology.