VOL. 126 | NO. 160 | Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Light Their Fire
Cowboy Rules to Live By
Roy Rogers. Now there’s a blast from the past. Known as the King of the Cowboys, Roy sang his way through radio and silver screen and even had his own TV show until 1957. He was accompanied by his wife, Dale Evans, and World’s Smartest Horse, Trigger. Those were the days when real cowboys wore fringe.
Roy, always a “white hat,” had a list of 10 Rider’s Rules that dictated behavior. Among the rules are: Be neat and clean. Be courteous and polite. Protect the weak and help them. Be brave but never take chances.
In life, most people have somewhat formal rules to live by, whether they arise from religious conviction, Boy or Girl Scout principles, parental guidance, the Golden Rule, Eastern philosophy, hero worship or just plain common sense. In the workplace, except for the legal requirements such as Americans with Disabilities Act or Equal Employment Opportunity, the rules are unwritten. Each person is expected to bring along his or her own standard of behavior. How’s that working for us?
Try this: Write down the five rules you think are most important in life. Now ask yourself if you apply those in the workplace. I say this because I’ve seen people do things in the office that they wouldn’t necessarily do at home.
Having two sets of rules can create inner turmoil and result in tension and stress. It’s like pretending to be someone you’re not.
As a consultant, I’ve sometimes been asked by clients to do a project in a way that I knew to be less than correct. I’m not talking about ethically; I mean doing a project that I knew would be ineffective. There’s always a fine line to walk between doing what a customer wants and doing things right. There have actually been times when I’ve had to resign a project because I knew it wouldn’t be successful if I followed the customer’s line of thinking. Giving up the financial reward is definitely tough. But living with poor work is worse.
Since I live outside the corporation, I have the latitude to refuse orders without destroying my whole business. When you work inside a corporation, you sometimes have to bite your tongue or risk losing your job. Now that’s stressful.
If you’re a manager, think about what you ask your employees to do. Are you guiding them to succeed, or are you really expecting them to compromise what they know works best? Better keep an eye out for the symptoms that you or your employees are sacrificing important beliefs. Are you living those consistently, or are you constantly compromising? A strong dose of inner conflict can result in a bad attitude, unhappiness and ultimately health problems. If you recognize these things in yourself or your employees, it’s time for a life principles checkup.
Think about those five principles that I asked you to write down.
And keep in mind that unless you’re Roy Rogers, when you don’t follow your heart, even cowboys get the blues.
Susan Drake is president of Spellbinders Internal and External Marketing. Contact her at email@example.com.