Sunday, July 1, 2012

Your ideas don't work unless you do…

     I used to work with this feller, I’ll call him Einstein. Well ol’ Einstein always had a bigger and better idea on how to reinvent the wheel. Any time we had a job to do, he’d spend a whole bunch of time figuring out ways to do it easier. Most times he was just trying to figure how to get out of work. Some of the time, he would come up with an idea on how to do it easier, but would spend more time thinking about it and talking about it than it took to just do it. However, once in a while, he really had a good idea.
     One day we were laying water pipeline to a new drinker in a rough pasture…and I don’t mean above ground. We were burying it two feet deep to keep it from freezing in the winter. It was about a mile project - and mean work. We went right on with it, figuring the best way to git 'er done - was to just get done with it. As usual, Einstein hung back and studied on it a bit. After considerable time had passed, he had this bright idea on how we could do this process with less effort. We told him to get busy and implement his just might work.
     Ol’ Einstein pumped up with pride at the thought of us actually liking one of his ideas. He bragged about how great it was gonna be, how he would save everyone some work and how he'd thought of it all by himself. He was still talking about it when we finished the pipeline later that day. He was still bragging about his idea that night at the bunkhouse. By then, he was even talking about patenting it…no, seriously! 
     Finally, one ol’ cowhand who had seen a few miles in his time, and usually made a lot of sense, looked at Einstein, spat in disgust, then said, “Yer ideas don’t work less you do.” Truer words had never been laid upon Einstein before. We laughed heartily at the expense of our embarrassed compadre, but that old puncher had shore-nuff said a mouthful!


  1. As teenager I spent quite a bit of time riding with Paul, an honest-to-goodness cowboy that was old enough to be my Grandfather. He'd "cowboyed" all through the Southwest in the 1920s amd 30s. He couldn't read or write but could put a handle on a horse that would cause the hairs at the back of your neck to stand out and tingle. One time he was riding a young, "green" horse and it began to throw a real idiot fit. Paul just quietly sat there on it and did nothing till it finally quit to catch its breath. Then he just reached down, patted it on the neck, and went on like nothing had happened. I questioned why he didn't do anything about making the horse stop. He said, "Well, I didn't see any advantage in adding to the excitement. I figured he was doin' a pretty good job of that all by himself." It was several years before I fully realized the wisdom of what he'd said.

  2. Great story Lee! Thanks for sharing!


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Jim Olson is a ranch-raised cowboy, author and entrepreneur. Growing up on the high plains of eastern New Mexico he learned to ride young colts, tend to cattle and drive heavy farm equipment at an early age. 

Jim spent a few years competing in the calf roping event at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association level, qualifying for the circuit finals a few times. He lives on and operates a ranch near Stanfield, Arizona, once a part of John Wayne’s Red River Ranch, and also owns Western Trading Post, dealing in Cowboy and Indian collectibles. 

These great life experiences Jim now uses in his writing career. He writes stories about interesting and extraordinary people of the west including short stories of both fiction and nonfiction. He has a monthly column titled “Cowboy Heroes,” published by several Southwestern and national magazines. Jim has written three books and is working on other projects as well. He can be reached via the web: 


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