There is much that can be said about the American cowboy. Because of their no-nonsense attitude to a tougher-than-nails work ethic, they can teach us all a lot about life and the values which we should possess. Personally and professionally, they can teach us a lot.
During the early period of westward expansion, cowboys endured long hours, difficult work, rough terrain, storms, and sometimes a lawless environment. Their poetry, stories, wisdom, and way of life are celebrated in literature and song.
Cowboys were men of few words. However, their limited conversation often was made up of what we today call “Words of Wisdom”. Some of them were:
- When in doubt, let your horse do the thinkin’.
- Trust in man, but tie up your horse.
- If you reach the end of your rope go to the knot and hang on.
- If your horse doesn’t wanna go there then you don’t either.
- You’re never too old to teach or too young to learn.
- Expect your girl to carry a 100-pound bale of hay. But never expect her to carry a bag of groceries.
- Common sense ain’t as common as one might think.
About 15 years ago, James Owen, a 40-year veteran of Wall Street, spent a year living with the real-life working cowboys of the West. He spent one year exploring the life and code of the working cowboy and distilling the principles which he calls Cowboy Ethics. From this experience he developed what he calls “The Code of the West.” It is:
- Live Each Day with Courage
- Take Pride in Your Work
- Always Finish What You Start
- Do What Has to Be Done
- Be Tough, But Fair
- When You Make a Promise, Keep It
- Ride for the Brand
- Talk Less and Say More
- Remember That Some Things Aren’t For Sale
- Know Where to Draw the Line
You may want to Google Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West by James Owen. It is a terrific 82-page book with beautiful pictures of real cowboys that illustrate the code.
Author Clarence Shoemaker, originally published in the Gregory-Times Advocate on February 14, 2018