When I wrote about the characters of Yellowstone last week, the response I received to that post was amazing. Here’s chapter two of my Dutton Ranch reflections…

As this past season of the show ended, I found myself asking, “What’s with our Yellowstone obsession?” More personally, “What’s my obsession with these characters at the Dutton Ranch?” Chewing on this for a while, I landed on my answer.

I think I want to be a cowboy. 

Secretly, I think some of you do as well. 

There’s something magnetic about the way they live, they work, and they approach life – something that resonates with us deep inside…

Cowboys never ask for handouts. They understand the value of hard work and run toward it instead of away from it. Cowboys don’t seek comfort. Instead, they seek out the uncomfortable because they know it’s part of living a full life. Hard work is required, not optional, and cowboys don’t whine about it.

Cowboys don’t back down. They don’t look for trouble, but when challenges come their way, they embrace them head-on. They get bucked off of horses and get back on. There are no “cowboy participation trophies” – only buckles that mean something and scars that tell the stories of past challenges and triumphs.

Cowboys talk less and do more. A cowboy doesn’t have to tell you what they’re going to do before they do it. They just show up and get the job done. Whether they’re fixing fences or corralling cattle, you know what they did based on the results you see, not what they told you.

Cowboys aren’t afraid to get dirty. They clean up well at the end of the day, but in the middle of the afternoon when the sun’s beating down and the dust is getting kicked up, they thrive in the dirt. The mess is part of a day’s work, and they embrace it. They expect to get dirty along the way, and instead of fighting it, they soak it in.

Cowboys remember their roots. Those roots, with the dirt still dangling from them, help them live their lives with humble confidence. No matter where they are today, they never forget the place they came from. Whatever success they’ve made in their life, or how far they’ve come, they stay connected to things like their mom and where they grew up.

Gene Autry captured this well when he created the Cowboy Code…

  • The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
  • He must never go back on his word or a trust confided in him.
  • He must always tell the truth.
  • He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
  • He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
  • He must help people in distress.
  • He must be a good worker.
  • He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
  • He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
  • The Cowboy is a patriot.

That sums it up. That’s who I want to be… A cowboy.

The closest I’ll get to becoming a cowboy may be the high school parties we had out in the cornfields or a future trip out west. I may never mount up on a horse, and you’ll probably never see me in a cowboy hat. But somewhere deep inside, there’s a little bit of John Dutton, Kayce, Rip and even Jimmy that I need an outlet for. There’s a restlessness calling me to live like a cowboy… to keep the Cowboy Code and make room for the dirt. 

You might be feeling the same thing. Maybe for you, you have a little bit of Beth inside that’s trying to find its home. I think that’s why the Dutton Ranch has become a special place for us. It’s a place where we can imagine life as cowboys – out in the wild where there are possibilities over each hill – where desks and cubicles are replaced by miles of open space and the upside-down nature of today’s culture are released. 

The Takeaway

How can you quit imagining this life and start living it right here, right now? How can you be a cowboy where you find yourself today without having to run to Yellowstone and the Dutton Ranch? Ponder that, find your answers, and cowboy up.

Ready for more?

I hope you enjoyed this quick take on Yellowstone and the Dutton Ranch. You can follow me here for more insights like this one. And if you liked this, you’ll also get massive value out of the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. Find it here or on your favorite podcast platform. Here’s to all of our inner Duttons! – John