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"Always be Humble and Kind"

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "Always be Humble and Kind"


There is a song written by Lori McKenna made popular by county singer Tim McGraw called “Humble and Kind”. The chorus repeats:

Hold the door, say "please", say "thank you"

Don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie

I know you got mountains to climb

But always stay humble and kind

When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you

When the work you put in is realized

Let yourself feel the pride

But always stay humble and kind

The song ends with the sentiment:

Don't take for granted the love this life gives you

When you get where you're going don't forget turn back around

And help the next one in line

Always stay humble and kind

Every time I hear this song I think of my father-in-law, another one of the truly greats in my world. It is as if every line of the song was written with him in mind. He was born and raised on a farm in Illinois. He achieved enormous success in business as an attorney, landowner and financier. Beyond that he was an amazing human being and father to each of his four children (which explains the patience and kindness of my husband). My father-in-law was one of the kindest, classiest individuals I have ever met. He never forgot where he came from and the people he met along the way. I don’t think he ever met a stranger. He was ALWAYS “humble and kind”. He remains to this day a role model for me to become a better person.

Thanks to my immediate family and the extended family that surrounds me I have learned the value of being a good person, doing an honest days’ work, paying it forward and always being humble and kind. There is immense satisfaction in this. I have applied these same valuable life lessons to business with the jobs I have held and people I have both managed and mentored.

…”Hold the door, say "please", say "thank you"…

To me, a large part of being a good person is the impression I create in the world. Growing up, my mom taught my sister and me the magic words, aka “please” and “thank you”. Using these magic words with the appropriate tone went a long way back in the 1970’s and still does today. What is crazy to me is how seldom these words are used in the workplace. I know this to be an undisputable fact after years of facilitating customer service training. As a MAGIC® (Make A Great Impression on your Customer by Communico, LTD) Trainer I was taught to listen for the use of these words. I facilitated hundreds of training courses for internal, external and international partners on the importance of customer relations. I listen for them every time I go somewhere. What I found time and time again is that it is assumed employees mean “please” and “thank you”, they just never use the actual words in emails or conversations. I go out of my way to use these magic words personally and professionally. Both in emails and in conversations. You should too. It is easy to do and it will set you apart.

…”When the work you put in is realized”…

One of my girlfriends a few years back told me about a conversation with her daughter. Her 4 year old daughter did not want any rules and told her mom “you are not the boss of me!” My friend corrected her daughter to be sure she knew she absolutely was her boss. Her daughter responded by becoming the boss of everything else in her world: “I am the boss of this popsicle, I am the boss of this dress, I am the boss of this chair, I am the boss of this bed….” I don’t think my friend was amused; I thought this was hilarious!

I think of this exchange often in business. We all have bosses and rules to follow to help ensure the work we put in is realized. In my experience, the most valued employees self-manage and live the adage “You are not the boss of me!” in a very positive way. They don’t need a boss to ensure the work they put in is realized, they are the boss of themselves. They ask questions for understanding to know what is expected of them. To achieve success, they work to exceed these expectations each day. At minimum this includes arriving to work on time, working a full day and producing an acceptable output of deliverables - but, they don’t stop there. Similar to when my physical education teacher in the 7th grade told me I was not going to get an “A” just for suiting up, there is more to work than showing up each day. Learn from star performers what is their secret recipe for success and from that create your own destiny. This does not mean working crazy long days, nights and weekends. Work smarter not harder. Take ownership for you- be the boss of you. The work you put in will be realized sooner than you expect!

…”Help the next one in line”…

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked for some truly exceptional people in my career. It helps that I like a new job every two years and that I have worked for a lot of people over the years…I may have taken the lessons in Spencer Johnson, MD’s book “Who Moved My Cheese” to the extreme?!

Four of my former bosses I should have had to pay them for the valuable life lessons they taught me. Each is vastly different from the other. Nonetheless, I never wanted to stop working for any of them, it was only due to variables outside my control that caused me to leave. I would go back to work for any of them in a heartbeat.

One thing each of them did was help the next in line- namely me. Each went out of their way to mentor me. They ensured I knew from them directly that they considered me to be an exceptional employee. They recognized my contributions to the business and celebrated them with me. They provided candid feedback that helped me to learn and grow. They respected me and made me want to work harder and achieve greater success. I contribute much of the success I have achieved in my career to these mentors and their helping the next in line.

I work hard everyday to model this same behavior in people that work with and for me. I want to share the lessons I was fortunate enough to have had from these rare and exceptional people. This includes ensuring when I am in the presence of a great mentor- past or present- I recognize and thank them.

…”Always stay humble and kind…”

Lori McKenna wrote the lyrics to the song “Humble and Kind” sung by Tim McGraw for her five children, then ages 10 to 25. It exists as a poem/lullaby that this mother wrote for her kids about the simple lessons she wanted her children to master. Admittedly simple lessons, yet ones that define the character of those who live by these ideals. Following them can make your life better. A very powerful outcome.

I believe being humble and kind takes hard work every day. Some days may be easier than others; people, events, situations and life will get in the way. When that happens, turn back around and try again to be humble and kind. Think about the great people, family, mentors and role models who are humble and kind in your life. Look at what and how they do what they do that cause you to consider them to be role models for you. Work to embody their characters and traits. Never give up. Being humble and kind can be among the most rewarding part of life to see how your actions can make your life and those around you better. At the end of the day, it is a gift to yourself and others which is more than worth the effort.


Whether or not you are a fan of country music, I believe the words to “Humble and Kind” are ones to live by for all of us. I hear the song and it makes me smile and think of my immediate family and my family by marriage. It makes me know how very fortunate I am to be blessed with the family I have. It also makes me think back about all the amazing people in my career that have helped create my destiny and how blessed I am to have had them in my life.

Well before this song was introduced, I began working hard every day to follow the ideals in the lyrics. I use magic words every chance I get. I have seen the impact of using “please” and “thank you” on those around me. I drive myself everyday to achieve greater success and be the best boss of me- personally and professionally. I am joyful in mentoring those around me. I know that doing so makes me feel good about me. I also feel I am honoring the greats who helped the next in line- me. I consider this to be the highest level of flattery I can bestow upon them. I hope that one day someone will think of me when they hear the song “Humble and Kind” just as I think of my father-in-law.

What is Your Life Lesson….

1- Are you certain you speak the words “please” and “thank you” regularly?

2- Are you consciously the ‘boss of you’ to help better yourself?

3- Do you take time to encourage and mentor others?

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