I am continuing my review of Cowboy Ethics – What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West this week with a review of the second principle. I personally find this principle to be one of my favorites, and timely given I am about to host Thanksgiving dinner for my relatives.
Principle #2: Take Pride in Your Work
I think we have all experienced times in our life when we are asked to do something we are less than thrilled to do. I generally believe there is about 25% of every job or role that is “below the line” work, i.e. scrubbing toilets, filling out paperwork, and standing in line at the DMV. You likely have your own tasks that don’t fill your tank, but you do them anyway. This principle is all about doing your best work on even the most mundane, thankless jobs.
I’ll be honest here, there are times I just want to do a job that is good enough when it comes to tasks I don’t enjoy, versus my best work. I often want to just get the job done, and move on to bigger and better things, but I almost always regret that choice. I tend to look back on the final product with a twinge of disappointment. I know I could have done better, and I didn’t because I didn’t want to take the time.
There is a beautiful poem by Red Steagall about a young cowboy less than thrilled about digging holes for a fence that truly illustrates this principle. It’s a beautiful reminder of what many of our elementary school teachers said years ago:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.