Remember the old adage, “Success breeds success”? After reading the first chapter of How the Mighty Fall (HTMF) the adage needs some editing. An additional phrase should be “as long as you don’t read your press clippings and start believing them.”

In one way or another, the leadership of each of the companies studied by Jim Collins in HTMF started to believe that their greatness was an innate quality that could overcome just about anything. They stopped questioning the reasons for their success and just accepted it, leading to what Collins calls “Arrogant Neglect” of the expertise, processes, and methods that made them great.

Hubris exhibited itself in many different ways at each company, but it all starts with arrogant neglect.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are experiencing the first stage of decline, the hubris of success.

Do you view success as deserved or fortuitous?
Are you neglecting what made you successful in the first place?
Do you say you’re successful because of what you do or because you understand why what you do works?
Are you no longer learning about your business?
Do you discount the role of luck in your success?

Is your business in decline?