Each of us decide for ourselves what we do in our lives. Finishing what you start is just as important as being courageous and taking pride in the work that you do. It is more than completing a project; for taking pride in your work is impossible if the job is incomplete. James P. Owen talks about the life of a cowboy, and how “cowboys hated quitters.” He references a story from a John Wayne film, Red River, about a cowboy who intends on driving his cattle a thousand miles to Missouri from their ranch in Texas. The drive would be treacherous as they faced Indians, dry wells, foul water, border gangs, cattle thieves, and murderers. John Wayne’s character says to the men, “Nobody has to come along, we’ll still have a job for you when we get back. But remember this: every man who signs on for the drive agrees to finish it. There’ll be no quitting along the way. Not by me, not by you.” What would your answer be if if you were a cowboy asked to ride? Would you decide not to go? Would you make it to Missouri, or die trying?
We may not be faced with decisions such as this in our every day lives, but the way we make our choices is just as important, even more so. Every choice we make for ourselves we have to also decide, am I going to follow through? Am I going to finish the job? Am I going to be my word?
Once we chose our path, we get to make the decision to simply do our job or take pride in the fact that we finished and did it to the best of our ability. Finishing what you start is more than completing a task, it is giving it your excellence until the very end. There is breakdown in the process; creating short term and long term goals, communicating with others as necessary, being thorough in the steps needed to complete these goals, and following through with each step. When things get a little rough, we seem to find our biggest issue. When things don’t go exactly as you planned it’s easy to decide that your whole plan maybe wasn’t “meant to be.” As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Adversary will find its way to us no matter how perfect our plan is. And once we are faced with that, what will you chose to do? “The true test of a man’s honor is how much he would risk to keep it in tact.” James P. Owen also tells us, “When you’re riding through hell… Keep riding.”
Finish What You Start is the third Code of the West for a reason. It is impossible to live by the rest of the Codes if you are unwilling to accomplish this. We all have the power to accomplish our goals, our dreams, our plans. And we learn from the cowboy that quitting is not an option. “No cowboy ever quit while his life was hardest and his duties were most exacting.” J. Frank Dobie, A Vaquero of the Bush Country (1929)
*all quotations were taken from the book Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen
Written by Tracy J Jones