The Oxford Dictionary definition of “cowboy” is “a man, typically one on horseback, who herds and tends cattle, especially in the western US and as represented in westerns and novels.”
But does this definition really sum up what it means to be a cowboy?
I have always thought that some of the most influential cowboys in my life could sell their cattle and horses, and never put on their hat or boots again, but still be a great cowboy in my eyes.
So what really makes someone a cowboy, if it’s not the physical activities that make up one’s day?
I think it’s more about the way you do things than the actual things you do.
Being a cowboy means grit. It means hard work, determination, and humility. It’s being self-made. ‘Cowboy’ is a standard someone holds themselves to, day in and day out, that defines the course of their life.
By this definition, I think there are people in the rodeo arena or ranching industry today who really aren’t cowboys.
And there are top CEOs in suits and ties who have never pet a horse, much less ridden one, who are cowboys.
Some of my relatives grew up ranching and rodeoing, but didn’t raise their kids that way. Yet I see the cowboy way in their children: they are hard-working, good-hearted, humble, and perhaps above all, gritty.
The cowboy standards have been passed down to them throughout the generations despite the fact that they have no agricultural ties at all.
And when I look at my Grandpa, I see one of the greatest cowboys I’ve ever known. But for the time I’ve been alive, he’s lived in town with just a few horses. He’s always been, and always will be, a cowboy in the way he carries himself.
So if there’s one thing I want to tell you, it’s that no matter what you do or where you go, you can be a cowboy. You could move to the city and never wear your boots and hat again.
Live your life with grit. Be hard-working, determined, and humble. Hold yourself to that standard, and no matter what your life entails, you’ll always be a cowboy in my book.