Everything I Know About Living I learned From Cowboys


 or the first few years of my life, I lived in the small farming community of Afton, Wyoming. As a result, I have had a close relationship with cowboys (or at least ranchers) and I have always been fascinated with this lifestyle and the men who taught me so much. They have been very influential in my life, my ethics, my work habits, and whatever strengths I may possess. I learned much about myself and how to be a better person from the images, memories, and examples I have of my cowboy grandfather, cowboy-barber father, and my cowboy uncles. They are all gone now and in no way do I use the term cowboy to disparage these great men and the work they did. I am proud to be part of their family and to honor them in some small way in this short post.

I think one of the most important things I learned from these cowboys was that a person doesn’t have to be a college graduate (not that there is anything wrong with college) to be smart and capable and successful. All my cowboy heroes lacked a formal education beyond high school, but they were highly intelligent and wise and
knew how to live with integrity. They understood the value and importance of hard work and they taught their sons and daughters to work hard.

Another important skill I learned from these cowboys was to never take yourself too seriously. These men were able to get along with their neighbors, peers, and associates. They could laugh at themselves and each other, they could tease, they could talk about their cows or crops or families or current events, and they could accept and respect each other’s differences. They weren’t caught up in their egos, nor did they need to be in the limelight, but each of them was an example to me of how success should be defined. Their humility and kindness always stood out to me, yet they weren’t afraid to express strong opinions when needed.

From these cowboys I realized that common sense got them much farther than their formal book learning. I don’t mean to imply that education isn’t useful or necessary, but only that it does not guarantee success. In order to run their farms, they had to be extremely intelligent, but intelligence wasn’t enough. They also needed honesty, integrity, wisdom, and a strong work ethic. All these qualities, which my cowboy family had, are integral resiliency skills that each of us should develop and teach to our children through our example, loving patience, help, and guidance. I admit that all these ranchers in my family taught me many important things for which I will always be grateful, but there was one with whom I spent more time and had an opportunity to interact with on a different and more intimate level. Uncle Quinn (my father’s brother) allowed me to sleep in his home and interact with his family for most of several summers. I was able to connect with him at a different level and we had a few serious chats that were short but special, and I still remember them.

Aunt Elaine was wonderful to me while I spent the time with them. She provided me with food, she washed my clothes, and she even chewed me out once or twice (I deserved it). I was treated very well, and they expected me to work with their children (which I did). I felt loved and appreciated in their home and I am forever grateful to have had these opportunities.

I think it is easy for us, as a society, to forget the contributions to our lives of those who work so hard to help us live and be healthy. We owe a lot to modern cowboys and their hard work.

Let me reinforce the thesis of this post. Everything I know about living I learned from cowboys and I’m grateful for them.

Happy Failing Forward,

Calvert Cazier

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