Arrogance Leads to Irrelevance

I am blessed and truly grateful to be invited to speak at many educational conferences, and I am always appreciative of the opportunity. I have done my best to not only attend these events as a presenter but also try to take advantage of participating as a learner. Just today, I had the opportunity to sit in a session with two incredible teachers sharing how they have shifted the culture in the classroom to focus more on student creation. As I listened to one of the presenters, she shared a project where students find a person they are interested in learning more about and create some type of media to share about their life.  She said that it was an incredible opportunity for her to grow her knowledge and her students were now teaching her about people she did not know. I loved it!

I shared the following on Twitter:

Awesome to listen to a teacher talk about students exploring people they are interested in and the teacher learning more from the students’research. Students are the most untapped resource for learning in our schools.

The presenters in the session were highlighting their own growth from being around their students. I love it!

Everyone is a teacher, and everyone is a learner.  These teachers embraced this mentality in their classroom, and it was inspiring.

In my role, attending sessions at conferences does several things for me (but it is not limited to these ideas):

  1. It helps me to push my learning.
  2. It gives me the opportunity to connect with so many educators and highlight other presenters both at the conference and outside of it.
  3. It sharpens my ability to present. I focus on not only content but delivery.
  4. It reminds me that I am there to serve the participants and I want to learn as much about the group that I am speaking to on any given day.

I have grown a lot in my career, but I have so much further I would like to go.  Something I shared to the group today is that if we always act like we are “new” and are open to learning, there is no concern for becoming irrelevant. When we embody the mentality that we know it all, we already have at least one foot out the door.

I have thought about this a lot lately. For me to become a better presenter, I need to learn from other presenters, no matter their experience or their “follower count” on any platform.  Everyone has something to share, and I do my best to find as much great stuff from other educators for my development.  I am an expert of nothing but a voracious learner.

Arrogance leads to irrelevance.  When you think you no longer need to grow, I guarantee you won’t.

Jim Collins shares the “Five Stages of Decline” and lists the stages in the image below:


five stages of decline

The first stage especially resonates:


Great enterprises can become insulated by success; accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward, for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline. Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow.

All stages are something we need to pay attention to, but in the first stage it is essential to remind yourself not only what you have done that led to success, but why you do it, and the conditions that are necessary for growth.

When you lose that compelling reason and lose focus on why you do what you do, the strategies that you have used to be successful in the past can become irrelevant as you look to grow in the future.

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