It seems as if the cowboy world is shrinking. I’m not talking about the rodeo world, but the died in the wool cowboy world where the cowboy makes a living doing what he is on a daily basis.
There are cowboys who drift with the seasons to ranches located in different climates, but in general, the way of the cowboy is slowly disappearing. It’s the chicken-or-the-egg-came-first scenario. Ranchers are using horses less, four wheelers more, less rope and drag brandings and more calf tables.
Are they using these more because of a lack of cowboys or is there a lack of cowboys because these are being used more?
Ah, but they aren’t all gone! There are still those born to be a cowboy who are just now stepping onto the stage.
The new cowboy on the horizon.
And these new, aspiring cowboys just might benefit from the cowboys who have been around for a while. So, “old-timer” cowboy try out these suggestions with the new guy:
- Don’t be territorial. It’s not becoming. People see through that quicker than a border collie can get to the back of a cow. The reality is: those who are nice, giving and have a pay-it-forward attitude, are the recipients of pay it forward as well. But more importantly, at the end of your life, when you are an old cowboy in a rocking chair, you will want to look back and know that you didn’t just take. You will want to know that you gave and helped people, that you made a difference and made it a point to impart into people’s lives.
- Don’t be a know it all. Because nobody likes that. Especially the “new” guy. It will only push him away and it might start the “know-it-all-wars”. The back and forth, “Oh yeah? Well I…” or “I only do it this way…I’ve found it’s the only way.” It’s OK the new guy does things differently. It’s OK, he’s young. And yeah, he’ll grow up and learn a lot and make a lot of mistakes in the next ten years. And that’s all OK.
- Give a hand. Help the new guy, and all the people around you, out. It is in your ability to be nice and helpful. Give advice you would give your children or your best friend. Step back and evaluate how you could most efficiently and effectively help: suggest places to work or give his name to those looking for day workers. Offer to “trailer-pool”. Give him and his horse a ride and go to the job together to save on gas or diesel.
And if you are that new cowboy, here are a few suggestions that will help you transition more smoothly into the cowboy fold already established:
- Don’t be a know it all. Because nobody likes that. Especially the “old” guy. It will only push him away and it might start the “know-it-all-wars”. (See above) It’s OK the old guy does things differently, he’s been doing this a long time. And you know what? He’s learned a lot in the past ten years by making a lot of mistakes and figuring out what works best for himself and his horses. Stop and listen and you just might learn something. Furthermore, by watching and listening, you will also be learning what works and doesn’t work for you and your personality.
- Watch your pride. When you know-that-you-know-that-you-know how you do something is better or quicker or makes more sense, watch the attitude. It’s easy to walk around a little puffed up, or become a little more mouthy or sullen when things don’t go your way. Water on a ducks back? Just let it all roll off. Train yourself, your mind, to let things go and not to allow offense and bad attitudes to build up.
- Be truly helpful. Remember that in the end there is a job to get done. Look around and take inventory of what needs to be done, how you can help get things done quicker and with more productivity. In any job, working with and being a self-starter is a blessing.
- The boss’s way. When it comes right down to it, the people paying you appreciate it when the job is done the way they prefer. And once again, that’s OK. Don’t let it frustrate you. They’ve put in a lot of time and money to get to where they are and they deserve for it to be done their way. Believe me, they will appreciate it. You just might hear, “Man, I’ve hired a lot of people, but you are the first one to do it the way I ask and not complain about it.”
- Don’t take your personal frustrations out on anyone around you. This is a tip that should be used by everyone, in every area of life. We all have bad days and it is so easy to be edgy and snappy on those days. But no one appreciates the attitude, so drop it.
Any of these suggestions are quite interchangeable between the “new” and “old” cowboy. What it really comes down to is this: love and honor the people who you are around regardless of who or what or how they are.
Cowboying can be a hard way to earn a living. It also can be a downright tough job, with little thanks and a lot of work.
Turn to the cowboy next to you and be encouraging. Old or new, love the people around you. It will make a world of difference and will truly make your work environment a better, more honoring and fun place to be.
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