The Key To The Cowboy Way Of Life

by Kevin on April 21, 2010

There is a crisis developing in our world today. It is something that I believe will ultimately be the downfall of a way of life that this country was built upon. Once this ideal is lost, it is almost impossible to recover. With each generation, fewer and fewer people believe in this ideology. I am sad to say that unless we start making sure that we abide by this diminishing value ourselves and making sure that we teach our kids by example, the lost art of “keepin’ your word” will become extinct.

About ten years ago, I was out of work and my life savings was quickly running out. One hundred and seventy-five dollars doesn’t last as long as it used to. I had made it stretch for nearly six weeks. I went for a job interview with a nationally known company that required a college degree. I didn’t have a college degree, but they kept calling me back.

During this process, I had another lead on a job. I went for the interview and was offered a job that would pay the bills and allow me to eat one Vienna sausage a day. I told the owner of this business that I had a chance at another job that would pay me over twice what he was offering. I had already started the interview process with this other company and I would let him know if I didn’t get it. He understood completely, wished me well, and left the job offer on the table if I chose to take it.

Nearly a month went by. I had another two interviews with the big company, but they still hadn’t made a decision. Somehow I was still in the running for it despite the college degree requirement. Finally, after waiting as long as I could, I called the owner of the other company that I had interviewed with and asked if the job was still available. He told me I could start the next day. I thanked him and told him that I would do him a good job.

Two hours later, the big company called me. They congratulated me on being the first one to ever be hired without a college degree. The reason it took so long was because of that reason. My application and interviews had gone nearly to the top of the company. They had made an exception for me.

There was dead silence on the other end of the phone when I told them, “I just took a job.” I told them what I would be making and they were offering double the annual salary. That was a lot of money for an young cowboy. But in the end I told them, “That man offered me a job, waited over a month, and hired me anyways. I told him that I would do a good job and I’m going to.” One of the hardest things I have ever had to say was, “My word is worth more than your money.” I hung up the phone and imagined the financial road ahead of me had just gone from dust, to gold, to dust again.

A little while later, they called back and offered me nearly triple what my annual salary would be. After I still refused, I hung up the phone and nearly puked out my Vienna sausage that I ate for lunch.

Life was very painful for me that year. But in the end, it had worked out for the best. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. There were many hungry nights and many more “goodbyes” said to my friends as they went out on the town and I stayed home. God loves it when we stand by our word. Looking back, I probably wasn’t mature enough to make that much money. I learned that money isn’t everything, but your word is.

Three things to expect when you keep your word:
  1. It’s never, ever easy – Anything of value to a man is gained through hard work, sacrifice, and a never give up attitude. As King George would put it, “Easy come, easy go.”
  2. Integrity can be given away, but it can’t be bought back – There are magical moments that will come in your life when this will be severely tested. It doesn’t matter if it’s with your job, your kids, your wife, or anyone else, you sometimes only have one opportunity to do the right thing.
  3. It will always be rewarded – This reward may come from the understanding to never do something again. Keeping your word may sometimes lead to disaster. Unless your kids or someone else was watching and understood that you did it because you said you would. In that case, I would call it a success. But we don’t keep our word for a reward. We keep it because of who we are–and that’s what is rewarding.

With all these things in mind, remember to keep from going around and telling people that you will do this or that if you know you won’t be able to keep those promises. If you keep your word, you will become known as a person of integrity, trustworthy, honest, and admirable. These are the things our children should learn are important. Don’t let this Cowboy Way of Life go extinct.

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  • Lucie K.

    This story really warmed my heart. I grew up in Colorado, and was taught that your word, was your word. When you’d made a commitment you stuck by it. I did my best to teach my children the same way, and it seems to have lasted with them. It makes me feel really good to read that “the old ways”, aren’t really so old after all.

    • Kevin

      Thanks for the comment Lucie. No matter what people think, I don’t know that I would like to live without running water and electricity, but I would sure like the “old ways” to become cool again. Honesty and manners need to make a quick come back before the go extinct.

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