The Code of the West: Take Pride in Your Work
This second part of the Code of the West seems pretty straightforward. Yet I think it is something that has been largely lost in these post-modern times. Think about how many times you hear of Millenials or Centennials being called lazy. Some of that is for good reason and some of it is a misunderstanding of the changing nature of work.
There are absolutely fewer people having to take on those hard labor jobs our parents and grandparents had to take on to survive. Isn't that a good thing? However, that does not diminish the stress, time, effort, or mental and physical strength necessary in today's job world which is increasingly digital. The point stands too, that a growing social attitude is that we are somehow owed by the government or our employers a great deal more for our work than what our parents and grandparents expected. Maybe some of that is good and maybe some of that is bad, but it does cause tension between generations especially between employers searching for qualified and reliable employees, and employees searching for employers who will understand the social changes of the workplace.
So taking this second part of the Code at face value, simply take pride in your work is an absolutely valid way to look at it, but I would argue that it goes deeper than that in the Cowboy mindset.
In the military one of the first small tasks I was assigned was to de-thread my uniforms. This seems very basic, but it requires intense attention to detail. It also requires an attitude that understands pride in one's appearance as the representation of one's work ethic and qualifications as a leader. Something it reminded me of, was a professor I had in college who always seemed to have a stain on his shirt or some other part of his general appearance in great disorder. He was a great teacher, but often my attention to what he had to teach was distracted by his disheveled appearance and provided a skewed view of what professional life in my degree field would look like.
Taking pride in your work or appearance is about much more than viewing those things as praiseworthy or good. It is about taking ownership and responsibility for your work and appearance. As an employee, you start asking yourself no matter if you're the custodian or the CEO, "How can I be the best at what I do so that the rest of my team can be successful? How do I in my position provide value for my employer?" I've seen this attitude drastically change how my employers and co-workers interact with me. Often it has meant that I've climbed the ladder of whatever company it was at lightspeed compared to my peers who were showing up to clock-in, do the bare minimum, and go home.
It makes sense, even more so, that this would be a part of the Code of the West when you realize that a Cowboy's work is tied directly into his identity. In their time, Cowboys weren't the romanticized heroes we think of today from our dime novels and then our obsession with western movies. They were blue-collar workers making a living dealing with some of the most difficult physical circumstances we can imagine today: exposure to all kinds of weather, long weeks on the road away from home, many without any kind of family, and dealing with animals which will always be in some sense dangerous. We had a family friend recently get in an accident riding right after telling his friend that the animal he was on would never hurt a fly.
From a Creator's standpoint, you understand this from a brand-building perspective. For better or for worse, what you put out artistically or from the marketing sides of your platforms is going to be there and add up over time to people's view of your brand. If you choose to get political or religious or even just talk about one particular topic, your audience is going to have expectations of you from the point of view you have built for them. Taking ownership of your brand sometimes means that you take responsibility for something stupid you shouldn't have said and sometimes it means not backing down when you say something you believe but your audience may not like.
To rephrase this Code in a way we all can understand I would put it like this: Work Hard and Be Genuine.
What is your favorite part of your brand? What is something you value about the way you work that your co-workers might not understand? How has your brand grown when you've taken pride in it?
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