Something I recently found to be inspiring as well as impressive was GM Yasser Seirawan's performance at the 2011 World Team Championships. Seirawan, after coming out of retirement from tournament play this year at the U.S. Championship and not having a particularly good tournament result (although with an even score and a performance rating of 2571 still respectable for the top level), then scores an individual silver medal on board four for the U.S. team with a performance rating of 2773. This was against very strong opposition, with his win against GM Judit Polgar being among the most notable games.
I think his gutsy performance is something to be emulated by anyone who is looking to advance their game, especially for those of us who have experienced a hiatus from regular competitive play. There was a good deal of somewhat gratuitous criticism, including a relentlessly negative New York Times article, following his comeback at the U.S. Championship. The fact that he was able to ignore this naysaying and brought his A+ game to the Team event showed his desire and ability to work hard at chess, prepare psychologically for the challenges, and (let's not forget) enjoy both the game and the competitive event. So I decided to show my appreciation by ordering his latest book, Chess Duels: My Games With the World Champions.
For those of us on the road to improvement, an excellent lesson that our performance depends first and foremost on our own efforts and in the end, outside opinion shouldn't affect the results you can achieve.