As a seeker, you would have just woken up from the “psychological sleep” in which you thought and believed that the results obtained by men of excellence were due to the vagaries of chance or luck. You have grasped clearly that there is a level of proficiency in any endeavour at which “impossible” feats to the many become the norm.
However, despite having glimpsed the concept and meaning of excellence or mastery, you still feel that it is a gift from the “gods”. Therefore, not having understood all the factors which must be brought together to alchemically manifest excellence consistently, you remain fascinated by what it is and once in a while you hit that level of performance in your chosen discipline.
What is needed most at this stage is faith in and clarity as to the desired attainment. Knowing enough to pursue excellence, you must tenaciously maintain your idealism until ways and means by which to make the achievement of excellence more assured begin to reveal themselves to you intuitively. Thus you would pass onto the second stage.
The teacher tries to work out techniques and processes to mathematically produce the desired outcome (i.e. excellence) at will. Being fascinated by how excellence manifests, you become versed in principles, practices and procedures by which to consistently achieve it.
You can pass this knowledge to others and they would achieve similar results. You not only conceive excellence but also believe in it. You take excellence out of the realm of the “gods” and slowly acquire all the “keys to the kingdom”. You develop drills and slogans to internalize the principles.
However, the teacher still tries to be excellent in some things and sometimes. You do not yet know that excellence is an all-or-nothing affair. You hesitate to cross the point of no return to mediocrity for fear that you may need to sacrifice pastimes and habits that you yet enjoy (and not knowing for sure that there are other even more sublime pleasures if only you cross the bridge). This prevents you from marshalling all your forces into a laser focus and surrendering yourself wholly to the quest.
It often takes an archetypal event – e.g. falling in love, losing a dear one, experiencing a reversal in your fortunes – to jolt you to surrender yourself wholly and be initiated into the third stage of excellence.
At this stage you have all the keys and principles and have internalized them as habits. You have a clear conception of excellence; you believe in it and are fully surrendered to its attainment because for you it has become a necessary reality. You live it, you breathe it and you care little about what others think of you as you devote yourself to your ideals.
The reason for this is that you have been initiated into why you must attain excellence. Your motivation has been stirred to the point where not attaining it is no longer an option for you. Yet you are guided by high ethical and moral standards, you maintain your integrity while showing respect for others. Your devotion to the principles of excellence is in all things and at all times – even when there is no immediate goal or end in sight. Your achievement of excellence is more assured in your every undertaking.
Your fascination with why you must attain excellence gives you the mysterious irrepressible drive, the unconquerable spirit that is the hallmark of the leader. Indeed, your actions (or, more accurately, dances) are of such beauty, power and truth as to compel emulation. Whether you like it or not, you’ll have a followership – for good or bad.
While you are a seeker, excellence is a rosy dream that you would be happy to realize; as a teacher it is an aspiration that you try to reach; but as a leader excellence is a necessary reality of your very existence.
Each successive stage incorporates the competencies of the preceding stage. Progress through these stages is by no means automatic but depends, among other things, upon the clarity of your vision, your devotion to the quest and whether or not you receive sound instruction.
Finally, note that there is no end in this journey. After reaching the third stage of excellence at a particular level you start again at the first stage of excellence at a higher level of the craft. Thus goes on the endless spiral of excellence…