Cowboy Ethics and the Rotary Brand

Klinginsmith_Ray
Ray Klinginsmith, Trustee Chair 2015-16

“Cowboy Logic,” as sung by Michael Martin Murphey, has been one of my favorite songs for many years because of its happy music and thoughtful lyrics. It has relevance to Rotary because of its emphasis on honesty and hard work, but I did not fully appreciate its application to our organization until I read Cowboy Ethics by Jim Owen.

Jim was aware that the unwritten Code of the West was a powerful and positive force shaping the ethical behavior of cowboys in the Western states of the USA, and he distilled the code into 10 guiding principles. They are succinctly and aptly stated, and they align closely with The Four-Way Test, one of the hallmarks of Rotary.

Code-of-the-West2

Three of the principles are particularly applicable to the PolioPlus program. In the 30 years since the program was launched, Rotarians have remained steadfastly committed to the goal of polio eradication, even though it has taken much longer and been more expensive than anyone originally imagined. But we stuck with it, and now the goal of ending polio is clearly in sight. Along the way, we have fulfilled three of the principles of the Code of the West:”When you make a promise, keep it,” and “Always finish what you start”!

Two other principles have special relevance for The Rotary Foundation as a whole: “Take pride in your work” and “Ride for the brand.” Through their support of Foundation programs, from the first ambassadorial scholarships in 1948 to newer initiatives such as the Rotary Peace Centers and the Future Vision plan, Rotarians have truly made the world a better place. And because Rotarians have “ridden for the brand” through their creative work and generous contributions, these programs have been highly successful, enhancing members’ ability to take pride in their work. Therefore, I do not need to ask Rotarians for their loyalty to the Foundation. Instead, I want to thank them for their amazing loyalty!

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