A Dose of Humility


Now Playing: White Stripes’ outstanding version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. It’ll raise the hairs on your arm. Followed up by Johnny Cash singing Heart of Gold. If I played the lottery, I’d go buy a ticket. But I don’t. And won’t.

Those of you readers who know me personally are well aware that I don’t lack for self confidence. Karen calls it arrogance.

Suffice to say, I nearly always consider myself the smartest person in the room, as I’ve written about previously.

Tuesday, not so much.

I was at a meeting with the deans of nuclear engineering (or the equivalent) at UNC Charlotte, N.C. State, Clemson, the U of South Carolina — and I got to say, I bristled every time they called it Carolina — and S.C. State, along with management of a couple of utilities in South Carolina. It was part of a project I’m part of.

Anyway, after about 30 seconds it was obvious. I wasn’t the smartest person in the room. In fact, I was the dumbest. By a fairly large margin.

Still, it was an interesting discussion. I pretty much only listened as they described what they do and how they keep students and what their students need to be successful. The thing is, most of them were really interesting folks as well, particularly the guy from N.C. State, whom I sat with at lunch.

After lunch, I thought I’d get a break. Lonnie Carter, CEO of Santee Cooper, the host utility for the round table, showed up to talk with us. No, I didn’t think I was smarter than he is (he’s a pretty smart guy who is president of the national industry group this year). But he’d brought his teen daughter with him. Turns out she was going to college the next day. So, I thought, she’s just a kid. I’m not feeling so low here.

Turns out she was No. 1 in her high school class (I wasn’t). And she was going to Wofford on a full scholarship.

Crap.

Someone pass me the dunce cap.

“I wanna see what’s never been seen, I wanna live that age old dream. Come on, lads, we can go together. Let’s take the best right now, Take the best right now.” _ Neil Young, Love is a Rose. (Which I can’t help but singing, “Love is a nose, but you better not pick it …)

“Humility is like underwear, essential, but indecent if it shows.” _ Helen Nielsen (she’s a mystery writer)

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