Inspiration addresses the “How?” and the “Why?” of performance in terms of both breadth and depth. As mentioned earlier, inspiration represents the soul, and Plato’s three divisions of the soul are a good illustration of the breadth of inspiration: appetite, spirit, and reason. From a societal perspective, appetite corresponds with the productive caste of workers, merchants, farmers, etc., and in an individual performer would represent the hard work and years of deliberate practice (see Ericsson, 1996) necessary for expertise. Spirit is the protective caste of society and represents the strength, bravery, and courage to pursue, in this case, excellence. Reason is the governing caste of society and consists primarily of wisdom and rational decision making necessary to achieve the planning and commitment necessary for the journey of mastery (see Leonard, 1992).
To be truly inspirational, the depth of one’s pursuit of excellence must extend beyond the desire for fame, glory, success, and even excellence itself. Inspiration must connect to the core values of a person and the chosen purpose and meaning of his or her life. When this is achieved, “(values) permit actions to be coordinated and directed over long time frames” (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999, p. 206). As Ericsson (1996) has demonstrated, expertise takes a long time to develop, and without inspiration it is unlikely that the dedication necessary for excellence will be maintained. Furthermore, in order to have the essential courage to take the risks necessary to pursue performance excellence, it helps to have a purpose bigger than oneself. Connecting the pursuit of excellence to the inspiration for life provides the motivation, energy, and commitment required of performance excellence.