Getting to the top of the pile means striving for excellence, going for broke – making money and a name for yourself.
What will you do (and go through) to get “there” & gain recognition? How sharp are your elbows, how “in your face” are you prepared to be to reach the top? At the same time, what will you compromise or allow to slip so that you might achieve your goals?
There's few greater contrasts than that between a respected Teacher in the Synagogue and a poor widow with few friends and even less influence. On a spiritual level however it was the widow's readiness to go the extra mile which found favour with God, as opposed to the cold legalism of the Pharisee, the religious conservative.