Jim Owen wrote a book titled: Cowboy Ethics. What Wall Street can Learn From the Code of the West. Because we are the Wyoming Cowboys, I think it’s only fitting to relate to these ten aspects of the Code of the West.
Jim Owen’s Code of the West is this:
- 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.
Before reading these ten components of the Code of the West, I’m sure many thought it was going to be about driving cattle for miles along God-forsaken land on a trusty horse and so on. I believe the stereotype of the “cowboy” has been exaggerated in today’s day in age. Many people think that if you want to be a “cowboy” you must have a horse and some cattle. Well, news flash: you don’t. Cowboys are known for performing dangerous jobs, working hours upon hours with little to no sleep so the cattle heard could be safe, and loving it all while they do it. However, I think the magic behind a “cowboy” runs deeper than that. The cowboys stand for something. Cowboys live by their own code. They don’t do something because they have to; they do it because it’s the right thing to do. But what defines the ”right thing”? Their own values. The values inspire them to do better, and be better each and every day. This is what makes the magic of a cowboy. The most important thing a person can do is decide what they stand for, and live by what they stand for, for the rest of their lives.
Growing up on a ranch around cowboys has instilled in me many values that I will carry with me until the day I die. I have experienced the typical ranch things that are often talked about: Tirelessly checking cows and calves in the spring, raking hay on seemingly never-ending summer days, bringing cows home from summer pasture in the fall, feeding hay in the notoriously cold Wyoming winter and doing it all over again the next day, year after year. My dad and two uncles are the most stubborn men I’ve ever met. I’ve been taught the value of hard work from day one; doing a job right, or not doing it at all. Getting up day after day regardless of how you feel to get animals fed has shown me the value of sacrifice. Nursing sick animals back to health have taught me empathy, and knowing when enough is enough for the ones that are unable to get better has exemplified doing tough things, even when you don’t want to. I’ve learned to respect others and when to keep my mouth shut, however, I’ve also learned not to let them walk all over me. There is value in standing up for yourself.
And yet, I’ve learned just as much from participating in high school sports and showing up to school every day. A huge part of succeeding in life is just showing up. Having conversations with grandparents about what their life was like and serving the community in fundraising events that I was required to go to have taught me how much I can learn from others.
For me, I believe in empathy and kindness. Firm, but tender love. Respect for others and knowing that I can learn something from everyone. Relentless hard work and persistence to reach my goals, but also being grateful for what I have. Having the courage to just show up is better than not even trying. Sacrificing what you want, for what needs to be done. I have carried these values with me to college here at the University, and plan to take them to vet school with me. These values are part of who I am, and I believe that they’re the reason I have gotten as far as I have.
Having a “code” to live by can be the difference between reaching your goals, and falling short of them. While the example used here is the “cowboy code”, I think it applies to everyone. Not just the stereotypical cowboy. It’s about the way one carries himself or herself, and the standards they hold themselves to. Living a life that is true to themselves, and not caring what others think. That’s the real magic behind the cowboy. That’s the true “cowboy”.
“Everyone needs a code, a creed to live by…” – John Wayne
What is your creed?