Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago · 1 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys...


When I was small, most of my friends had career aspirations much different than mine.

Many of them wanted to be doctors, lawyers, mechanics, police officers, firemen and a whole litany of other things.

Not me.

When I grew up, I wanted to be a cowboy. This was a passion fueled by too many Saturday matinees and Louis L'Amour novels, and who can forget the great Willie Nelson song?

I loved the image of freedom and self sufficiency.

I liked the rough edges, the simple solutions to simple problems, being a loner.

Drift in, fix the town's problems, and ride off into the sunset. (Which is probably why I did so well as a consultant.)

The trouble is... I'm now a CIO leading a team of bright, creative people.

The cowboy image doesn't work for me anymore.

But I keep drifting back to the comfortable zone of self sufficiency. So I wrote this post to remind myself that innovation will never happen to a cowboy, all by himself. Drifters don't achieve big dreams.

Every leader needs to be very self aware, and know the unique parts of their personalities that can have a detrimental dark side. For me, it's my cowboy-ness.

I don't have anything against cowboys, but for me, trying to be one gets in the way.

You can't be a loner, and a leader at the same time.

I need my team, and I need my colleagues, and together we make magic happen.

If you are a kindred spirit who wanted the cowboy life (or still do), have you really hung up your spurs and taken on the role as leader?

If it wasn't the stuff of cowboys... what part of your early dreams gets in the way of your leadership?

By the way... I've kept the boots... but that's another story.


Image: MS Office Imagebank

Note: A version of this post has been previously published by the author on LinkedIn.

About the Author:

I'm the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee ( , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at

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Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #20

Well said Irene Hackett. Perhaps the cowboys were the original Introverts.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #19

#24 It would appear that I've 'spurred' you on in fondly remembering the cowboy spirit Praveen Raj Gullepalli, and you remind me of why I fell in love with the cowboy way even as a young child. You also get that it's not the cowboy spirit that works against me in my leadership role, but the romanticism of being a loner. Even cowboys need to live in community.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #18

We love the romance of the independent spirit that is embodied in the cowboy. That's why they work so well in the movies. I've kept the boots but have lost my horse, and this is Canada, so we didn't have pistols.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #17

Don't forget Susan Rooks, that Dale Evans was just as influential on us kids as Roy Rogers was. Personally though, Trigger was my favourite.
Kevin Pashuk! I ALWAYS wanted to be a cowboy! I grew up in the '50s and westerns on TV were all the rage. I wanted more than anything to ride horses, fight battles, and win. I had no idea I couldn't be a cowboy until my mom told me girls couldn't grow up to be cowboys . . . I would have had to be a cowgirl and there weren't too many tough ones then. Sigh. And I just saw Gert Sholtz's comment, and I agree. I am and always have been a loner. I'm better with people now than I was during my childhood -- couldn't honestly be any worse -- but yeah. That resonates. And the cowboy thing riding off into the sunset, having saved the day, also resonates. And yes. Kevin. I am a consultant. It's a perfect role. No wonder we're comfortable here on LI -- we're a lot alike.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #15

OK! We can still be cowboys! But it has to be more like the Magnificent Seven (which they are ruining with a remake) than the man without a name from The Good,the Bad, and the Ugly.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #14

Thanks Gert Scholtz. I'm an idea lover myself so I appreciate your point.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #13

Thanks for broadcasting this John White, MBA.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #12

Let's never forget the band... six feet from stardom but critical for the show.

Gert Scholtz

5 years ago #11

Kevin Pashuk Hoo-Haa! Great post Kevin. I think loners tend to be leaders of ideas, and the more sociable leaders of people.

John White, MBA

5 years ago #10

Kevin Pashuk: We tweeted this one too @beBeeProducer and @beBeeBuzzworthy in case you'd like to retweet.

Jim Murray

5 years ago #9

Nice thought, Kevin Pashuk. You Know it's funny all the time I was reading this post I was thinking about people who are perceived as loners but who really are leaders who have simply managed to create that perception. I think about guys Like Bob Dylan and James Taylor and Hank Williams. But these guys are really just CEOs of their own companies. You honestly have to go back quite a ways to guys like Shakespeare, Galileo or Michelangelo, and even then it's dicey, because they had all kinds of minions. So good point.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #8

Good point Henri Galv\u00e3o!

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #7

As ancient wisdom says, going 'against the wind' is fine as long as one is not spitting or peeing.

Randy Keho

5 years ago #6

My new car is a Mustang, but I still have my rocking horse in the basement. The only difference is horsepower.

Pedro 🐝 Casanova

5 years ago #5

I have a song for you....." Against the Wind " ( Bob Seger )

Dean Owen

5 years ago #4

what, like Sunguard? :) Bunch of cowboys if ever I met any. All the vendors I have worked with were a bunch of cowboys. Loved working with them, but gotta learn that if they say 6 months, expect a year, if they say $100,000, budget for $200,000.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #3

... and therein lies the problem Dean Owen... If you want to work magic in IT, you can't be independent. You need a great, high performing team, not a bunch of drifters together for the cattle drive.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #2

Not sure I agree with you Kevin-san. I have dealt with a lot of cowboys in your industry over the past 25 years! :)

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #1

Somedays I look at my office and think that I have made a serious vocational error Phillip Hubbell. Cowboy ways don't belong here... but they do on the trail. Thanks for reminding us that there are great leaders whose office is on horseback.

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