By Jim Owen
“What you give is what you get.” Life really does seem to work like that, doesn’t it? My job title at the Center for Cowboy Ethics is “chief inspiration officer,” and it’s one I take seriously. So imagine my delight when, right on the heels of my last blog post, on “being a difference,” a big infusion of inspiration came back to me, thanks to the University of Wyoming.
As cowboys remind us, what matters is “actions, not words.” The current edition of the University’s UWyo Magazine illustrates this beautifully with a heartfelt series on people who are having a positive impact on campus.
Each story is a shining example of one of the Ten Principles of Cowboy Ethics in action. There’s the University’s director of research support, who keeps working as he battles an incurable degenerative disease (“live each day with courage”); the gardener who lovingly tended the campus flower gardens for more than three decades (“take pride in your work”); the UW graduate who spearheaded the University’s early leadership in online learning programs (“ride for the brand,”); and seven more. The headline on the series is “Can One University Make An Impact?” The answer is clearly ‘yes.’
There’s another theme that runs through these stories—that is, relationships. When you think about it, the way we have an impact on the world is almost always by making other lives better in one way or another, even if they are the lives of people we don’t personally know.
When it comes to Cowboy Ethics, the relationship that I and my foundation have had with the University of Wyoming has been pivotal to our work. Not long after the state of Wyoming adopted Cowboy Ethics as its official state code, the University did the same, at the urging of the student body. Beyond that, the College of Business uses the Ten Principles of Cowboy Ethics in its business curriculum, and also worked with my foundation to launch our popular Standing Tall ethical leadership workshops. In the process we gained an executive director when Kent Noble left the College of Business to come work with us full time.