Bringing the Code to Life

January 17

Anxiety, apprehension, and unease are normal parts of the human condition.  They can help us focus, positively increase our adrenaline, motivate us, act as a warning sign of danger, and help show and understand empathy for others.

Today the feeling of overwhelming stress and angst has become the most common psychiatric disorder in children.  An astounding 1 in 3 adolescents suffers from feeling higher than normal levels of stress related to-among others-school, friends, and families.  Why is this?  What has changed in the last fifty years?  How can we reduce this alarming and suffocating statistic?

One answer is the following-as Baby Boomers came of age, they (we) drifted away from the shared values that made our country great.  Church attendance declined, the divorce rate increased, family dinners fell by the wayside, “anything goes” became the norm, and we slowly lost our faith in ourselves and a higher power. Endless worry over everyday issues is crippling our great nation.  The idea of shared values is nonexistent.  Very few people truly know what they stand for and, more importantly, why?

We must dig down deep and figure out who we are and how we are raising the next generation of leaders and doers in our country.  The perfect place to start is with the ten principles found in the Code of the West:

Inspiration:  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

As a teacher of Cowboy Ethics in the Classroom, I ask my students if they have a code or a creed to live by, and the majority of them look at me with blank faces.  They don’t know what my question means.  This is very concerning because without a code or a creed to live by one is destined to a troubled, directionless life.  Hence, the situation we are in today in our country.

Think about it, if everyone just lived by one of above ten principles, our country would be in a far better place.  We would be more likely to trust one another, we would follow through, we would live up to our promises, we would have fair and honest discipline, and we would collectively know what we stand for as a country.

Better yet, if everyone developed their own principle to live by, I know that exorbitant anxiety levels would decrease and resilience and self-reliance would make a roaring comeback.  Below are some examples of 11th Principles written by students who had previously suffered from anxiety and an extraordinary lack of confidence.

“Breath in problems and exhale solutions.”

“Fear is your gas pedal, not your brake.”

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

“Show up like you are meant to be there.”

“Tough times don’t last.  Tough people do.”

“It’s not supposed to be easy….it’s supposed to be worth it.”

“Fear is a sign of growth.”

There you have it: “out of the mouths of babes.” So let’s wake up and know and defend what we stand for as individuals, families, and as a nation-for living a principled life is the only life worth living.  Period.