Early cowboys often worked far out in the “lawless” western territories of the United States. As a means of survival, they developed their own rules or code of ethics to live by, based on principles such as honesty, courage and loyalty. Although unwritten, this cowboy code was understood by every man; those who violated its tenants did so at their peril. Over the years, even with the decline of the traditional cowboy of the wild west, the principles of the cowboy code continue to be a foundation of the western lifestyle.
The complex and often nuanced rules that governed the behavior of cowboys in the old west have been written down in various forms over the years; rules such as – never ride another man’s horse; always drink your whisky with your gun hand to show your friendly intentions, never look back over your shoulder when you ride away from someone. Jim Owens, in his book Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, probably best distilled the code down to these ten basic principles:
Ten Principles of Cowboy Ethics:
The loyalty, trustworthiness, and integrity of the American cowboy is a legacy that endures today and, regardless of your profession, continues to be an inspiration and a standard to live by.