CIO Leadership

The Arrogance Of The Arrived

You may have arrived, but fail to keep investing in yourself, and you will be left behind.

Scott Smeester


August 17, 2023

“The insolence! The audacity! The unmitigated gall!” The Grinch

I work with some of the finest people on the planet. They are accomplished, recognized, awarded, honored and just plain liked.

As is true for me, they invest in themselves, surrounding themselves with coaches, mentors and experienced peers, even as they are experts in their field and coach and mentor others.

They would agree with Mahatma Ghandi who said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

And perhaps they would nod with understanding at what a senior once told me: “Everyone knows something that I don’t. I keep asking until I find out what that is.”

When you listen to those we regard as successful, as having wide and deep influence, you will hear them say things like “my coach,” “my mentor,” “my friend at lunch the other day.”

I’m always a bit impressed. They are still learning. Still spending time, energy, ability and money towards their own growth. They compel me to keep up.

Unmitigated Gall

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. It goes against the grain of successful people I know and work with.

A belief that because you get paid to do things (author, speaker, consultant), you shouldn’t pay for others to invest in you. A bias that because you have arrived, there is nothing more to learn from anything that might cost a buck or an hour.


And especially technology leaders who are in the most rapidly changing industry known to humanity?

No, no, no.

I understand that we get to a place where we have numbered great accomplishments, built a tremendous resume, and fostered a positive reputation. We have arrived, and it’s a grateful place we have landed.

But one never arrives when it comes to continued influence, depth of relational community, breadth of learning or dimensions of personal improvement. 

I love our CIO Mastermind groups. Really sharp leaders are in them. They pay to be there. And we have one hundred percent retention over five years. Why? Because they find value in each other, they gain wisdom from each other, and they receive trusted insight.

Believing The Best

When people tell me they don’t need something because they are usually paid to do it, I choose to believe they are just caught up in a season of being honored and recognized. It feels good. They have satisfied a long-held ambition. It’s time to swim in the waters of hard-earned recognition.


Please see the season for what it is. Nothing to be entrenched in. Nothing to cloud your vision for investment and improvement. Not a place to stay but to move on from. A momentary pedestal with the next Olympics to work for again. 

This is what great leaders do. Celebrate each other. And then push each other. And warn another when an unwillingness to grow takes hold, an entitlement ensues, and they invest but are not invested in.

This is that warning. Dig deep the well of your own improvement.

You may have arrived, but fail to keep investing in yourself, and you will be left behind.

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