As the year winds down, we find ourselves reflecting on 2015 and at the same time, looking ahead to the coming year. It’s a time for gratitude, contemplation, optimism, and goal-setting.

At the beginning of this week, an email thread wound its way through Ruffwear inboxes. It began with this quotation by Simon Sinek, shared by our company President: “If perception is reality, then it follows that reality is a perception. Which makes a good case for optimism.”

What followed was a thoughtful and insightful response from Patrick, Ruffwear’s Owner & Founder, drawing on timeless lessons found in cowboy lore as well as his own personal experiences. We believe that Patrick’s response provides a unique look into a philosophy that we at Ruffwear embody and embrace in both our company culture and our business  practices — So much so, in fact, that we wanted to share it publicly.

Here’s what Patrick had to say:

I love this stuff, and at the same time, it scares me. I mean, that’s a lot of responsibility, being in charge of our own reality. I believe we have a diverse and talented team with a common vision. I too am optimistic.

My short response (I love this quote):

“Good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgment, and sometimes that bad judgment can be pretty horrific.”

I enjoy minimizing the horrific learning experiences. Small steps, and if it feels good, take another. I don’t do well with leaps of faith…

As a kid, who for the most part was thrust into a deep reality from 10 years of age, I like to believe I have benefited greatly from embracing my reality. I consider my reality and the experience gained through that reality to be the most important contribution in the development of my traits, traits that have for the most part served me well over the years. But as you know there is that saying, our best traits can be our most challenging attributes (or something like that).

Sometime in my not-so-recent past I started to get into cowboy lore. Ponder for a moment, the cowboys out on the range, their horse and their saddle… and a lot of hardship and challenges, life and death at every fork in the trail. The lessons that cowboys learn from first hand experiences, real world problem solving with no one else to give the responsibility to for a poor decision. I don’t often hear a cowboy rambling on. Their words are well chosen and the meaning runs deep. I believe this is wisdom speaking.

I grew up on westerns on a B&W 13” TV, so again my reality comes into a poignant perspective with this whole cowboy theme. I find it intriguing how other cultures have praised and interpreted the American western cowboy. We have cowboy poetry, we tell the story of settling the west and the role that cowboys had in the settlement. In DaLat, Vietnam, there is a whole industry with the Lat people (hill tribe Viet Namese) dressing up in “cowboy” garb and tourists can take pictures with them. Cowboys, they seem to have stories that we want to learn.

Patrick with the “cowboys” in DaLat, Vietnam.

I think what I enjoy about cowboy lore are the few words they need to make their point. And their point is usually a universal message that resonates with the listener no matter what walk of life they come from.

Here are a couple examples that resonate with me:

The first 10 seconds of this video are words that run deep for me, learning from experiences. I will type them out here.

“Good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgment, and sometimes that bad judgment can be pretty horrific.”

And then there is the cowboy in The Big Lebowski:

Summing up a 1 hour 59m movie and perhaps more than a lifetime of deep discussions, in 2.5 minutes with poise.

Finally, there is this quotation from John Wayne:

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

So while I do enjoy the whole reality is perception and perception is our reality approach, or put another way, “self responsibility, for you are the creator of your personal experience, never the victim,” — the learn-by-doing approach, that hands-on engagement, breaks it down into bite size bits for me. If bad judgment can be pretty horrific, well then, that is when I would say that reality scares the shit out of me.

Perhaps we are saying the same thing, just differently. I continue to be optimistic, and I am stoked to be a part of a team where we can create our realities through our good judgment.

Thanks to each of you for being the difference.

YeeeeHawww, get’ long little doggies,


As you look back on 2015 and think about your goals and resolutions for 2016, we invite you to consider this bit of cowboy wisdom:

Cowboy Code
If it’s not yours, don’t take it.
If it’s not true, don’t say it.
If it’s not right, don’t do it.

Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing you in 2016.




One thought

  1. Thank you for sharing! Great concept to keep in mind to help me with my 2016 resolutions.

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