Yellowstone. If you haven’t watched it or binged it, you’ve probably heard people talking about it. The Montana-based drama series featuring John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his family on the Dutton Ranch has quickly become a cultural phenomenon. Its storyline and themes, along with the breathtaking views of wide-open Montana, are sticky. They grab onto the imagination, weaving together American ranch life, politics and corruption, and deep family wounds to create a story filled with emotion and grit.
I don’t habitually write about or review TV shows or movies. It’s not really my style or a subject I find that interesting. Four seasons into Yellowstone, though, we’ve gotten to know the Duttons and I’ve picked some things up along the way. Sinners or saints, love them or hate them, we’ve all got a little Dutton in us. Here are some of the lessons they’ve shared that are worth remembering.
From John Dutton…
Keep your word. If there’s one lesson John Dutton has taught us above all others, it’s to do what you say. Make a promise, then keep it – and if you can’t keep it, don’t make it. Since meeting John at the beginning of season one, he has made good on everything he said he would. John Dutton’s word is gold, and he treats it that way.
Loyalty above all else. Alongside keeping your word, fierce loyalty matters to John Dutton. If you’re in John Dutton’s circle, he will fight for you to the bitter end and sacrifice self to do it. Of course, we see that loyalty drags him down some questionable paths, so yes, you can be loyal to a fault. But for John Dutton, loyalty is not optional. It’s a commitment that he treats like a religion.
“A brand isn’t something you earn. It’s something you live up to.” Reputation is something we’re all creating, whether we’re intentional about it or not. We often say that a brand is simply what they say about you when you’re not in the room. John Dutton takes it a step further. Once that reputation is built, you have to live up to it. You have to elevate to live in line with the brand.
Family first. John Dutton is first and foremost a devoted father, committed to his family. His relationships with his children mean the world to him, even when they are strained. Those relationships often include fractures and friction, but John never loses sight of their value. Even John’s challenging relationship with Jaime, his estranged adopted son, is important to him. He loves his children through the challenges and has made protecting them his top priority.
“Living day to day isn’t living.” This is one of my favorite quotes from John Dutton. He’s not saying don’t be present in the moment. Instead, his message is that just existing isn’t enough. There has to be more to life than simply surviving. He’s right, and it’s up to each of us to figure out what that means in our own lives.
From Rip Wheeler…
“It’s funny just how little you need.” Rip has mastered the art of contentment. Give him a good horse, a pair of Wranglers, some sunshine, and time with Beth, and Rip is happy. He doesn’t need much, and so he doesn’t spend his life chasing much. As a result, Rip is less exhausted than many of us. Simplicity is Rip’s friend, and he has embraced this to create a good life at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.
“I look at every day with you as a gift.” This quote is something that Rip once said to Beth Dutton. The message is simple. Never take any day for granted. In another episode Rip shares, “Everything you know and everyone you see everywhere is gonna die…” When we understand that we are all heading back into the dirt at some point, it’s a lot easier to recognize the gift that today is. Rip sees this and treats each day that way. It’s a gift to work, a gift to ride, a gift to breathe the Montana air, and a gift to be with Beth.
From Kayce Dutton…
Kill the monsters when you find them. We all have monsters in our lives… addictions, bad habits, and things we tolerate that we shouldn’t. When we find them, killing them quickly is the best way to ensure they don’t keep us from the lives we were meant to live. this is Kayce’s quest.
“I’ll give you the forest, but the valley is mine.” Kayce says this during a conversation with a wolf at the end of his property. In essence, he is saying that he knows what he’s willing to fight for. We should all know what our valley is. What are the things in our lives that we are willing to sacrifice for and that we’ll protect with everything we’ve got? When you understand that, decision-making becomes clear quickly.
“Live like there’s no tomorrow. One day, we’ll be right.” This is probably the best of Kayce’s wisdom, and it lines up with Rip’s earlier gold nugget. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, yet we act like it every day. We lay our heads down each night, assuming that the next day, week, month, and year are guaranteed. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re not guaranteed anything, and so we should live our lives like today’s our last day.
From Beth Dutton…
“I’m not going anywhere.” There are a lot of quotes from Beth that won’t end up on the “Yellowstone Lessons” list, but this one will. When it comes to loyalty, family, and the things that matter, we need to be committed to staying in the fight. Just like Kayce, Beth knows what her valley is, and as we’ve gotten to know Beth, one thing is clear. She does not and will not back down from a battle… Beth isn’t going anywhere. This needs to be our anthem as well. When things get challenging in a relationship, at work, or with our kids, we work on what we need to work on. We fight for what we need to fight for. We don’t duck for cover, and we don’t run.
The Dutton Ranch is a fictional place in Montana. John, Rip, Kayce, and Beth are fictional characters. Yellowstone, as we see it portrayed here, isn’t real… but the lessons we find there can be.
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