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Doornbos Lecture Series - Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership shared message at Casper College

Written by Natasha Wheeler

Casper – The 14th Annual Doornbos Agriculture Lecture Series featured Kent Noble, executive director of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership, at Casper College on April 27.

“Our program, ‘Standing Tall – What Do You Stand For,’ was originally developed for a small group of business leaders here in Wyoming,” stated Noble.

The program has been running for about three years, and thousands of people have attended the “Standing Tall” workshops.

Purpose

“All we can hope to do is to make the best decisions that we can from this moment going forward. That’s what this program is all about,” Noble explained.

Based on the 10 principles outlined by James P. Owen in his book, “Cowboy Ethics: What Business Leaders Can Learn from the Code of the West,” the “Standing Tall” program encourages individuals to discover their own, personal code to live by.

“It’s about creating a set of personal principles and integrating them into our lives in a meaningful way, so we can lean on them and use them when we face some of those tough decisions that we all face in our lives,” Noble added.

Owen spent many years of his career on Wall Street, wrote several books about the financial sector and owned part of a Wall Street firm.

“He really became disgruntled with the way he saw business being conducted,” Noble commented.

Owen decided to spend the rest of his career striving to raise the bar on ethical standards in the business world.

Influence

“When he was a young boy, James Owen used to go to the Saturday matinees and see Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and other iconic cowboy figures on the big screen,” Noble said.

Owen looked to his childhood cowboy heroes as mentors, characters that inspired him to do better and be a better person.

“He wanted to identify the core values of his heroes, so he set out to do that by coming up with 10 principles. He combined them with some great cowboy images and the end result was a book that has become a best-seller,” noted Noble.

With the success of his book, Owen began to travel around the U.S. speaking to groups about ethics in business.

Code of the West

“His message is really simple. His message is, we all need a code or a creed of advice, something that will inspire us to do better and be better,” Noble explained.

Owen’s principles have been adopted by the state of Wyoming as the official state code and include such creeds as “Live each day with courage,” “Take pride in your work” and “Be tough but fair.”

“We want to introduce people to those principles, the Code of the West, and we want to help everyone come up with their own code,” Noble stated.

Personal code

After workshop participants complete the objective, they are encouraged to share their codes with their friends, family and co-workers.

“If I tell people, ‘This is who I am trying to be and this is what is important to me,’ they will notice if I act in ways that are inconsistent with that, so I will try that much harder to live up to it,” he commented.

Noble added his principles to the signature line of his email to share the ethical intentions that he created for himself.

“Let’s identify, ideally, who we want to be and what’s important to us and let’s be bold enough to push it out there and hold ourselves accountable,” he stated.

The “Stand Tall” program hopes that people will be inspired to take action in making the world around them a better place.

“If people are not already engaged in some meaningful way, making a difference in their community, we hope that they are encouraged to do so,” noted Noble.

Challenge

Noble also encouraged workshop participants to challenge themselves.

“We shouldn’t just pick things that are easy for us and stick them in our code,” he explained. “Some of the things in my code make me stretch and really make me work, but don’t we all want to be better versions of ourselves?”

Noble’s own work included the intention to always act in a way that would be acceptable in the presence of his children.

He noted that when they are around, “I am absolutely trying to be the best role model that I can possibly be. Shouldn’t I do that all of the time?”

Once his code was complete, he also shared it with his kids.

“No one knows me better than my family, and when we share something that’s so personal, we are going to have some great conversations,” he said.

His friends were also invited to read the personal principles that Noble developed for himself.

“It’s been very rewarding. Many of them have now been through this course and developed their own codes,” Noble added.

Tools for ethical living

The “Standing Tall” workshop strives to give people the tools they need to develop a framework for practicing ethical living.

“We are a reflection of the choices we make. That’s who we are, that’s how people see us and that’s our brand,” Noble stated. “Doesn’t it make sense for us to have a bedrock set of principles that we have really thought about and clearly defined?”

As the workshop progressed, participants discussed integrity, gratitude, attitude, effort and more.

“We wrap up with our impact principle,” commented Noble. “How will people know that we are here? How will we leave our mark? How will we make a difference?”

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..