[May 1, 2019] I’ve always enjoyed working with people who grew up and worked on a farm or ranch where they learned the value of hard work. They learned all about nature and spent long periods outside in the harsh elements, are self-educated and worked with their hands. This is the leader and the cowboy.
Contrast these men (and yes, women too) with their urban, fashionable counterparts that take a formal education for granted, prefer recreation activities to work, and are sensitive about their perceived moral superiority. The latter folk, who are the big-city peers to the cowboy, spend their lives indoors, manipulating a keyboard at the computer, and see the world through a lens of trendy clothes, movies, social media, and television.
The leader and the cowboy is often self-made, unentitled, hands on, neighborly, and less precious than their urbanized equivalents. In the U.S. Army, I found that those who grew up in the rural parts of the country made better soldiers. They adapted to the stresses and structured environment of the military quicker and more smoothly. They work better with teams and are more honest and reliable.
The leader and the cowboy was more likely to advance in the enlisted ranks and be the go-to soldier on the battlefield who could get the mission done without a lot of guidance or unnecessary fanfare. If you see a Silver Star or Medal of Honor awarded for bravery, its likely to be a cowboy. If you see soldiers getting things done to help their unit, its also the cowboy.
They don’t wait to be told what to do. Somehow, they know what needs to be done and are willing – actually, happy to be the first – to do it. They score highest on the military’s physical fitness tests and are more likely to be Navy SEAL Team members, Army Rangers, or Marine combat soldiers. Their city-peers are more likely to be in administration and work in an air-conditioned building.
My life-long friends are the leaders and the cowboys. That is my bias and I’m happy to know those men and women who are at the “tip of the spear” in our military. They’ll do any job and don’t consider themselves intellectually beneath any task that needs doing. When the going gets tough, they’ll be there beside us and without hesitation.