Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's Your Roadmap to a Meaningful Life?

This post is from Kent Noble, Executive Director of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership.

This week a man’s reputation was ruined through a series of lies and denials he perpetrated on the public, his teammates, and his sport.  Ryan Braun, a five-time All Star and former National League MVP and rookie of the year, was suspended for the rest of the season by Major League Baseball for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). 

While many players have been banned over the years for using steroids, it was Braun’s in-your-face repudiations that drew the ire of so many.  Moreover, like Lance Armstrong, Braun didn’t appear to care whose character he impugned as long as he retained his fame and fortune.

While we could spend the better part of a day discussing professional sports and the use of PEDs, I would prefer to consider why some people are anchored to a defining set of principles, while others drift aimlessly in pursuit of glory and greed.

At some point in our lives, I believe most of us are confronted with the inner uncertainty—am I here for me, or am I here to make a difference? 

Even with our innate desire to do the right thing, this consideration can be sobering as it often seems easier (not to mention more rewarding and fun) to pursue a lifestyle that primarily benefits our self-interests. 

As we each consider our unique path and destiny, some will select a road of service and/or giving, while others will choose to pursue a trail of self-indulgence.  More yet will opt for a route somewhere between the two extremes. 

At the end of the day, whether you’re Ryan Braun or your community’s “person of the year”, each of us is responsible for the path we choose and the consequences associated with our decision.  Unfortunately, there are too many examples of professional athletes, Wall Street insiders, politicians, entertainers, corporate executives, and others in the spotlight who choose to pursue self-centered temptations and excesses. 

So, what should we do if we don’t like the path we’re traveling?  Well, fortunately, we can adjust our internal GPS and take an alternate route.  By following these three steps, we can develop a roadmap for a course that precisely reflects the type of person we want to be: 

1.     Decide exactly what it is you stand for—in other words, what are your core values?
2.     Communicate your values—that’s right, tell people what’s important to you and what you expect from yourself.  Now that’s pressure!
3.     Commit to “walking the talk”, especially when it’s difficult to do so.  Remember, if you don’t, Step 2 is going to make you look bad.  We told you the pressure was on!

Obviously, this process requires a significant degree of buy-in from the individual.  Defining, declaring, and pursuing your principles takes dedication and persistence.  However, if you commit to examining life’s big and small decisions through this lens, we feel confident you’ll blaze a trail that will result in a meaningful and rewarding journey.   



  1. Kent Noble, has the perfect last name. A sign? I enjoyed the 1/2-day workshop with this gentleman about two months ago. These reminders he sends to workshop participants help each of us to examine the current path we're on at various intervals. I like the GPS analogy; with a little adjustment on our route, we can get right back on our true life path.

  2. Great post, defining my values is an exercise I have gone through for this very reason. It is too easy to get off track in our society with our strict principles to live by. I just wrote a similar blog on this subject, I think you will appreciate the subject. Keep up the good work you are doing at Cowboy Ethics.


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    1. Thanks for sharing your message.I write a blog called 365 Days of Difference in which I describe an act of kindness that I perform each day. This desire to reach out has changed the way I view my day. When you focus on an action to give to others, your own selfishness is diminished. My blog can be found at jsmcfetridge.blogspot.com.

  4. Kent - I grew up in a poorer family and have learned to appreciate what I have and am thankful for everything. I grew up in church and strongly believe that having been given the spiritual foundation and faith has helped progress thru my adult life. I by far have not had an easy or perfect life. The exact opposite would be the truth of that matter but each struggle, trial and bad things that have come up have made me a stronger person. My #1 first rule for myself is to trust God no matter what. #2 is to treat others the way I want them to treat me. If I am rude and mean then I can only expect that in return. On this same note, if someone is being rude or mean to me I try to treat them even nicer. I just think maybe they just had some bad news or their boss is treating them badly or 100's of other reasons. They may just need a friendly smile. Lastly #3 is to be a hard worker not only at work with your employer but also at home or wherever else you may be working whether the boss is watching or not. I have earned the trust of every employee I have worked with and they know I will get the job done no matter what. If I expect my crew to perform a task I always make sure they see I am just as willing to do the task. I could go on and on but it all boils down to just being a good person. If you are good, have an unshakable faith in God and treat ALL others as equals (regardless of what they look like or act like, etc). Life may not be perfect but it will be good.

  5. Kent, You share some really good, common basic's of just going through life. Life, is always will be about "choices", listening to your inner core thoughts and simply doing the right thing. I have always sad, it is easier to get caught up in the ugliness of what this world has to offer, more than the goodness. Surrounding yourself with the kind of people, places, things, is in my opinion "KEY" for keeping us on track. I was very fortunate to be blessed with too amazing parents, they always consider others needs 1st before theirs and us as a family. For instance, my Mother was one of the people who recently lost everything at the age of 91 young in the Yarnell Fire and yet during the fire, she was more concerned about the people that she didn't know if they made it or not. She has lived her whole life that way and is my constant reminder of what life truly is about. Thank you for allowing all of us to share what is important to us. Blessings!