Modesty is a Virtue
Jay and Karen share thoughts on the importance and benefits of humility.
Have you ever had a moment when you’ve felt immense pride? The feeling of great accomplishment. Perhaps achieving an important victory. And, it made you feel almost invincible? That you were ‘on top of the world?’ Well, hopefully, we’ve all had these kinds of moments at various times in our lives. But they come with an unexpected challenge – or risk? Our sense of ego overwhelms us. We can feel and act in ways where we exude an air of unjustified superiority and alienate those around us. Importantly, these are the times when humility needs to be our watchword. When empathizing, listening to others and keeping our ego ‘in check’ should be the focus of the day.
Imagine a moment from many years ago. On the fateful eve of the Allied invasion of Sicily during World War II, Dwight Eisenhower decided to write a letter to his wife describing the emotions of the moment. In the letter he would write, “Everything we could think of has been done, the troops are fit, everybody is doing his best. The answer is in the lap of the gods.” Even as a man of incredible power and ultimately one of the great leaders of the last century, his words demonstrate a certain sense of humility we don’t often see these days. He recognized the enormity of such a moment and in doing so, he also recognized that the success of such an endeavor doesn’t lie with just one man, but so much more that he ultimately could not control. All he could do was to prepare himself, and others, as best he could. And by doing so, the invasion of Sicily, and eventually the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule, was successful.
We tend to place a lot of emphasis on personal accomplishments, our appearance, and how we are perceived by others in our culture. This self-aggrandizement unfortunately comes with a cost - humility. It’s a virtue we don’t usually hear much about in public discourse. Why then is it so important? First, let’s start with how we understand humility. In short, humility is a practice in modesty, a recognition of our strengths and of our weaknesses. It’s an acknowledgment, not a judgment, of our own individual value as human beings, that we have both strengths and weaknesses, and that’s ok. I tend to think of humility as the great unifier. This is because whenever I meet or interact with someone who demonstrates humility I feel more at ease, because with humility comes a great respect for oneself and respect for others and their own experiences.
The fact of the matter is we all go through life with our own biases and opinions, looking to be accepted, heard, or validated, it’s part of human nature. Sometimes it means that we don’t actively listen, and instead we look for approval or to defend ourselves rather than for what’s right in the moment. As rational beings, it’s oddly irrational. But the ability to do something not because we seek recognition for said act, or because we want to be right, but because it’s the right thing to do is a powerful virtue. If you think about it, humility most often shows up when we serve others. It’s an absence of arrogance or entitlement and it often promotes empathy. It allows us to consider other perspectives, reducing our own bias, creating the foundations for dialogue, understanding, and compromise, something I think we can all agree is lacking in our society. And the great thing is it’s something that all of us have the ability to practice each and every day, just like Ike did even in the most trying of times.
So, this week, why not have a little fun? Try practicing some humility in a conscious way in a few situations where you find yourself interacting with others. Then, take stock of how it felt, how you were received and any insights you may have developed. I suspect you’ll find this little experiment to be truly worthwhile.
New Hampshire Granite
New Hampshire is blessed with a number of various nicknames such as the ‘White Mountain State,’ the ‘Mother of Rivers,’ the ‘Switzerland of America,’ but most notably it’s known as the ‘Granite State.’ Why the state’s obsession with this igneous rock? Adopted on May 31, 1985 as the official state rock and jokingly referred to as New Hampshire’s most bountiful crop, granite stones are everywhere in New Hampshire - from the curbs of the roads to cemetery headstones as well as including the many miles of stone walls crisscrossing the landscape.
This appreciation for and use of granite most likely started in the very early colonial days. In fact, back in 1812 when the state prison was being erected, it was believed to be the first granite building to be constructe in New Hampshire. The second was the State House, built in 1819. Interestingly, the State of New Hampshire has a number of uses for granite including some not so usual ones. Inside the State House, next to the visitor center is a military display of the Grand Army of the Republic. Amongst the uniform, rifle, and sword is a custom-made medal for the Governor's honor guard; however, it is not made out of gold or silver but of granite!
Not all of New Hampshire's granite has stayed in New Hampshire. Some of the most notable buildings made out of New Hampshire granite are the United States Library of Congress and Boston’s Quincy Market. Thankfully, we have an abundant supply here in the Granite State. New Hampshire rests almost entirely on a bedrock of granite, making granite an integral part of our heritage as well as a profitable business.
One of our state songs is “The Granite State.” Dartmouth College’s school song refers to the sons and daughters of old Dartmouth as having “the granite of New Hampshire in their muscles and their brains.” In fact, residents of our state often refer to ourselves not as ‘New Hampshirite’s’, but as ‘Granite Stater’s.’
Referring to the ‘Old Man of the Mountains,’ made of New Hampshire Granite, Daniel Webster once stated, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."
New Hampshire’s connection to granite is as old and enduring as the rock itself.
‘The Common Man’ - Always Looking out for the Common Man!
For over 50 years the Common Man organization has been providing top service, wholesome food, and a great place to stay. Alex Ray, Founder of the Common Man Companies has been running his businesses in a unique fashion. What started out as a single restaurant in Plymouth, NH, has grown to 16 locations across the Granite State. But the Common Man isn't just a place Granite Stater’s enjoy, it is a place they can depend on.
For instance, back in 2019, I was at Squam Lake for the ‘Swim with a Mission’ annual fundraising event. We were there to promote Children of Fallen Patriots. I took my team over to the food area for lunch and to my surprise who was working the grill but Alex Ray. He and his staff prepared over 1,000 meals that day and all the proceeds went to ‘Swim with a Mission.’ Truly, such great passion and commitment for this wonderful cause – and such admirable devotion by both company and owner. The fact is, this is the culture that Alex has created for his businesses and what he encourages and expects from his employees each and every day.
At all of his locations, he encourages his managers to seek out opportunities to help their community by hosting and working at fundraising events while supporting charities both large and small. He has created volunteer service incentive days so his employees can dedicate time and give back to a charity that is meaningful to them. Known as the “Do Good” program, these Common Man teams are without a doubt a blessing for many. However, the story gets even better as the program’s presence goes beyond the borders of New Hampshire.
Following the destruction caused by horrific weather in Kentucky last year, Alex and his team loaded a box truck with food, clothing, and supplies and headed down to help. After unloading and donating to those impacted, they spent the rest of the week volunteering with the World Central Kitchen. During the recent Pandemic, Alex partnered with local Rotary and other civic organizations and collected and then distributed 67,000 masks.
The chance to give back and engage in these kind and generous acts runs deep in the ethos Alex Ray and his Common Man Team! The common man is lucky to have the Common Man Family in their corner.
Positive Profile of the Week: Nicholas Coates
This week we are delighted to highlight a successful and visionary leader in one of our state’s up and coming communities, Nicholas Coates. Nik is the Town Manager of Bristol, NH, a small town of less than 3,330 people about 30 minutes north of Concord.
While not large in size, this small town, however, has been making some big waves with its progress on broadband, in large part due to Nik’s leadership and tireless advocacy. He has led efforts to bring a 24-mile stretch of fiber optic cable through the town thus bringing top end speeds to customers who never before had access. This is a ‘game changer’ as it allows Bristol to compete in today’s era of ‘work from home’ jobs. This is especially true also has an added, but little-known benefit - it is as fast uploading as it is downloading. This enables those on the network to transmit data as fast as they receive it.
Interestingly, Nik’s advocacy for rural broadband access is not limited to the town of Bristol. He sits on the Grafton County Broadband Committee where he is assisting other towns in the surrounding area around Bristol to have the same level of access thus extending the opportunities to even more people. These are the jobs of the future, and in this post-Covid environment, work from home has enticed many people to telecommute full time. In order to do that, we will need more projects like the ones Nik has been championing. Because of his efforts, this small town is now well-positioned to benefit from a growing economy as younger families, tele-commuters, students and virtually everyone in the community can have access to ‘state of the art’ broadband and internet speed.
Thank you, Nik, for your innovative leadership. New Hampshire communities are truly fortunate to benefit from your entrepreneurial spirit!
Quotes of the Week: Humility
“Just knowing you don't have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn - and those are all good things.”
Dick Van Dyke
“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.” Winston S. Churchill
“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” Albert Einstein
“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.” Confucius
“Sports are such a great teacher. I think of everything they've taught me: camaraderie, humility, how to resolve differences.”Kobe Bryant