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By Karla Pomeroy

The News Editorial: My take on the Code of the West


May 19, 2022

When James P. Owen wrote “Cowboy Ethics: What Business Leaders Can Learn from the Code of the West,” there was a rush for businesses and organizations to accept the Code of the West as a code of conduct, despite the fact that the code has been around for decades.

Burlington schools adopted it as a motto and the Wyoming State Legislature adopted the Code of the West as the official state code.

With high school and college graduations going on this month and next it is a time where I try to impart some wisdom learned throughout my life. This year I thought I would share my take on the Code of the West.

1. Live each day with courage. Have confidence in yourself. Have confidence in your decisions. One tip in making those decisions that I have learned — when in doubt, don’t.

I am not saying don’t do something if you are nervous or fearful, but rather trust your instincts and if your instincts are giving you doubt about something listen to them.

I can think of two incidences in my life when I felt I should have made a certain decision but everyone around me was telling me the opposite. It was not out of fear or lack of courage. I truly had doubts the decision the group wanted to make was not the right decision. I voted with the group. Turns out I should have listened to my instincts.

Unfortunately, I did not learn after the first time and even now I have to remind myself to trust my instincts and I have friends who remind me of that as well.

Go forward with courage, even if your instincts run against the flow.

2. Take pride in your work. No matter what you do work hard and make sure you give your best effort every day.

3. Always finish what you start. And in turn, don’t start something unless you fully intend on finishing it.

But also, if you start something, do not worry about how others do a similar project or how fast they may have finished. You do you at your pace.

4. Do what has to be done. More and more you hear employers complaining about employees who refuse to help out in other areas saying “that’s not my job.” If there is something that needs to be done and you can do it, do it. Don’t get caught up on what is “your job.” Be a team player.

5. Be tough but fair. This is something every journalist has to learn when writing tough stories. I have covered tough subjects and controversial topics in my 32 years and the best compliment I get is when both sides think I was fair even if the story is not favorable to one side. People can get past you being tough, if you are fair.

6. When You Make a Promise, Keep it. Don’t say you will do something if you have no intention of actually doing it.

7. Ride for the Brand. What is the brand you ask? It depends on the circumstance in your life. The brand can be your family, the business you work for or your own character. Whatever you do or say, ride for the brand. Is what you are doing or saying something you want people to think of when they think of you, your family, your school, your community, your state or your employer/business.

Yes, it is a lot of responsibility but what we say and what we do throughout our lives have consequences, so ride for your brand.

8. Talk Less and Say More. Don’t listen to the childhood rhyme of sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me. Words can hurt. Words do hurt. Be thoughtful and careful on what you say and how you say it. Words can produce wounds that are much harder to heal than any wound that comes from a stick or a stone.

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale. Realize there are things that money cannot buy. Say thank you to those who help you. Let people help you. By letting people help you, you are allowing them to give you a gift. Give a helping hand to someone and you will find it more rewarding than any material gift you could receive or any trophy you could win.

10. Know where to draw the line. Set boundaries in your life. Draw those lines and don’t move them.

Stand tall and proud for the things you believe in. I had a boss once who, at the time, I felt was always questioning my decisions. I later realized he was teaching me to stand behind those decisions. If I made a decision he wanted me to be able to justify it, to stand behind that decision. If you draw a line, set a boundary, make a decision, know why you did, believe in it and stand up for it.

Good luck out there. It’s an ever-changing world and my wish for you is that unlike some of your predecessors, when you go out into the world, you leave it a little bit better than you found it.

--Karla Pomeroy


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