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I just finished reading Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn From The Code Of The West by James P. Owen.

It was meant for Wall Street and I am sooo far removed from that locale, but I think the ideals fit great with the seasonal lifestyle. The Code was never written down for cowboys to follow. It is more of a compilation from many sources that Owen places in ten ideas. It applies to the working cowboy, not really to the infamous gunslingers of the time.

Now I do work on a ranch. But not always. It's much more basic.

I, like Owen, will stick with the male gender...but it is really meant to be inclusive of cowgirls too. I have sometimes grabbed an ideal and titled it differently, but it follows Owen's work.

1) Courage is being scared and saddling up anyway. Most seasonal people leave a lot behind. Friends and family, job security (if there is such a thing), sometimes significant material goods are all miles away. To go to a workplace that they might not know, to work and live with people that they do not know. That step is not easy. It doesn't get easier with successive seasons.

2) Cowboying doesn't build character, it reveals it. So, if it was work that didn't involve being on a horse it was probably not liked very much. But if there was work to be done, and the cowboy was obliged to do it, the best he could do would be put into it. There are many people that think your job is all fun. They can be a bit annoying, there is some parts of every seasonal job that is not at all enjoyable. But the job must be done...

3) Cowboys HATE quitters. From the classic western movie Red River: "Every man who signs on for the drive agrees to finish it. There'll be no quitting along the way...not by me, not by you." Cowboys also hated whining and complaining almost as much, because those things had the sounds of quitting. Let me tell you about Casey, she agreed to a job in housekeeping as a seasonal job thinking that once she got on, a better job might open. It didn't. She hated it. But Casey dealt with it, because quitting was worse.

4) It's not always doing the right thing. But nobody said your job would be easy, except those that have not done it. Many of the jobs encountered by seasonal workers may have short cuts. Many times there are reasons why these shortcuts are not already in place. Maybe you will be the first to discover one...

5) Be tough, but be fair. Whether you're dealing with a co-worker, roommate, supervisor, or people you supervise remember this simple ideal.

6) When You Make a Promise, Keep It. Seems simple, a man is only as good as his word, has been believed for centuries. There will be people along the way that have made the promise to show up for work that never arrive, you notice how much more this simple axiom applies. I also use it in other areas, but don't necessarily hold others to the same standard.

7) Riding for the brand. Misunderstood by many people. Riding for the brand does NOT mean some blind, unquestioning allegiance. Like Teddy Roosevely once said, "Cowboys call no one master." Cowboys are just not cut out to follow anyone just because they counted out their pay. What it means is that when you're on the job, you're on the job. It covers dealing with personal items on your personal time. It includes No Bad Days...I might blog a bit more on this in the near future.

8) Keep It Simple, Keep It True. Very similar to #5. Talk less but say more on the job.

9) Remember That Some Things Are Not For Sale. To the cowboy the best things in life are not "things".

10) Know Where To Draw The Line. Borders do not always have fences. You will be living and playing and working with people that you might not have known just a couple weeks earlier. It sometimes breeds familiarity quickly, but know there are some borders.

Cowboy Ethics at

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