The Code of the West

“A mans got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.”

John Wayne


Back in the days of the western frontier there were no laws on the range. The cowboys developed rules of behavior that became known as the Code of the West. These unwritten rules were based on fair play, respect, loyalty and pride.

The Code of the West is still with us today and cowboys still honor and live by the code.

As I was growing up, I became aware of this concept of the Code of the West. I remember telling myself in certain situations, ‘This person lives by the Code of the West. This person is honest, hard working and does what he says he is going to do. I can depend on this person.’

When I started working I was aware that some of my co-workers, managers and business owners held these same values, while others were lacking in these principles.

The old west may be gone, but the Code of the West remains. You do not have to cowboy for a living to live by the code. Each of us has our own personal brand. Have you thought about what you stand for? How do you want to be remembered?

James Owen, author of Cowboy Ethics, listed 10 principles that capture the essence of the Code of the West:

  1. Live each day with courage.
  2. Take pride in your work.
  3. Always finish what you start.
  4. Do what has to be done.
  5. Be tough, but fair.
  6. When you make a promise, keep it.
  7. Ride for the brand.
  8. Talk less and say more.
  9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale.
  10. Know where to draw the line.

I have dedicated our sterling silver lariat bracelet to the first code – Live each day with courage. Each bracelet honors the strong values and ethics that are woven into the spirit of the cowboy. The bracelet is a gentle reminder to live each day with courage.