Do you need to be the smartest person in the room?

The last leaves have dropped from the maple tree in my front yard. That’s my signal each autumn to set a challenge myself for the coming new year. For 2018 I’m circling around a challenge to examine my need to be the smartest person in the room when I’m the trainer. Here’s a first draft of the logical underpinning and the challenge I’m setting for myself, followed by a request for your input and an invitation to join me:

  • If someone repeatedly acts like the smartest person in the room, others will hang back. So I ask myself, “Do I want the participants in my sessions to hang back?”
  • There is often a pull from participants for the trainer to be the expert. This makes sense, after all I am the presenter. Yet I ask myself, “If participants are looking to me for expertise, does that mean that I need to play the expert role the entire time?”
  • Being the smartest in the room might feel good for a minute, but in the long term it will limit my ability to be an effective educator. If I always have to be the first with the “right” answer, I am not modeling a learning process that matches life outside the room (where things take a while, people work together towards a solution, and mistakes are made along the way), and I am elbowing out alternative perspectives and ideas. Ultimately, I ask myself, “Can I look beyond the momentary ego boost of feeling smart, and create an environment where collaboration and experimentation are valued?”

My 2018 Training Practice Challenge (first draft)

I challenge myself to observe my training practice this year through this lens:

  1. Is my training style rooted in being the smartest person in the room? How does that approach serve the learning process, and where does it fall short?
  2. Where being the smartest falls short, what could I do differently? Starting with a 15% solution, what could I do to improve the learning process 15% of the time?

What do you think?

I’d love your input on this. What holes do you see in my reasoning? Are there aspects I’ve overlooked? Is this a challenge you would join me in undertaking this coming year? Please comment below, or use the Learn-o-rama contact form to reach me.

Thank you,




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