I'm convinced that to truly be high-performing at any job,
one must invest the patience to earn that capacity through
experience. That means time; usually lots of it. There simply
is no short cut. Dues must be compensated. Mistakes, inevitably,
need to be made, paid for and learned from. I find that the
willingness to acknowledge the salt of years in our instant
gratification culture is, tragically, too often lost. There is a
bonus, called humility, that gets acquired through experience
and that is a very attractive quality. I'm still working on both.
Experience is Priceless
"How come ol' Billy cowboys so easy?
He looks like he don't even have to try"
The new-hire, young-pup asked of me
As if I was the go-to answer-guy
My reflex impulse was to laugh
Rag on him askin' if he was serious
It was just plain obvious to me but then
I recalled when I too had found it mysterious
"Well" I said, "Billy has paid his dues
For decades he's refined his ways
His has been a patient work ethic
That's too often absent nowadays"
"Blame it on a life filled with mistakes
See, each time you fail when tryin'
Is a fertile learnin' opportunity
A chance for wisdom supplyin' "
"They call that 'experience', Son
Nothing can ever take its place
It's the bonus paycheck you can
Cash in ever' day but never erase"
"I've seen youngsters come out here
Expectin' to be cowboys in a week
All full of bluster and swagger
But those with promise show some meek"
"It don't really matter your job
Cowboyin' or even cookin' ferheavensakes
Time on the job makes you better
S'long's you're willin' to learn from yer mistakes"
You can have a real good attitude
You might work hard with the best objectives
And while those traits are right admirable
They can't compare with know-how effectives
"It don't much matter what you study
Whether it's a college degree you've earned
Or a hard-gained certificate for a trade
You won't be workin' exactly as you've learned"
"Experience is the real teacher
You get most by simple repeated defeat
If your lucky some is shared by a master
Gather it for decades but it's never complete"
"Watch those road maps on Billy’s face
Look at the careful in his eyes
Nobody gave him his 'top-hand' rating
He earned that title becomin' wise"
"Some of them wrinkles are scars
Each carryin' its own unique lesson
Ever one's been hard or painful bought
Not just some gift or handed-out blessin' "
"You're new here ain'tcha kid?
I got a feelin' you're gonna be alright
Keep on askin’ questions of the old timers
With patience, you'll get it dallied tight”
"You keep an eye on ol' Billy
He's ever-ready to lend a hand
Observe his humble habits
He’s always there for the brand"
"Billy is first in the barn most mornings
And slow or last to call it a day
Notice how he tends towards quiet
A hand learns a lot that way"
So how does Billy make it look easy?
Why does he rarely miss a dally?
It's simple, he loves cowboyin'
That and his years of experience tally"
"Cain't buy experience at Murdoch's
Nor bid on it down at the auction yard
A man has to earn it over years of doin'
Showin' up, not quittin' and workin' hard"
"It's muscle memory and rememberin'
How best to get Cowpunchin’ all done
You just keep on copyin' the old hands
One day you'll Cowboy easy too Son"
by Rik Goodell
© 2021. All rights reserved
This painting of a salty old hand is by Victor Blakey.
See more of his work at