This has really struck me, not so much in the world of formal education, but in the world of budo. Examples of excellence shined through.
I think in the martial culture we have built for ourselves, having a teacher that can beat us up is almost irrelevant. Of course technical insight is important. But really the ability to lead a drill or game so everyone can learn is the primary roll of a martial arts. Really the set is stage so we can teach ourselves this stuff.
My teachers inspire me. Inspiration is a funny thing. Every time time I meet one of my teachers, I am usually looking for my one little gem. It is usually a moment I feel them doing something I had not noticed before. I then scurry back to my dojo and attempt to recreate the gem for the next 4 months or so. This is how my inspiration works.
I think great teachers bring people together. They are the center of a networking world of other experienced budo men.
All of these other attributes are irrelevant compared to the teachers ability to invest in a relationship with you. I am now excited to be at a position in my martial career where my teachers call me and email me. We chat about the ins and out of esoterica. I travel more and more to hang out with cool people, or I bring them to me and my students to spread their warmness and influence.
My teachers are my friends. They have knowledge and simply want to experience the richness of sharing their explorations. They inspire me with their words and actions, and I work hard to make them proud of my practice. I only pray that the people that call me teacher feel the same way about me. I have big shoes to fill, but I have good role models that we show me how to walk the path.