John Wayne’s Adulting Tips

Adulting Tips for Kids of All Ages

In the Old West young’uns grew up fast. In our world of cell phones and smart homes, can teens and young adults still learn lessons from the frontier past? Well, he’s gruff and tough, no-nonsense and no-excuses. Who better than John Wayne and the characters he played to dole out a little sage advice? Hang on, kiddos! There’s no sugarcoating here!


1. “You don’t like the treatment, don’t rob the banks.” – J.D. Cahill, Cahill   U.S. Marshal

No! We’re not suggesting you robbed a bank or you should rob anything! But always THINK! Think before you act, before you talk, because your words and actions have consequences.


2. “Well, son; since you don’t have any respect for your elders, it’s time somebody taught you some respect for your betters!” – Jacob McCandles, Big Jake



Ah! Timeless advice for everyone: Respect your elders! But, your betters? Yes, you might be good at a skill, have an amazing talent, or be a brilliant scholar, but there are people with more experience. Learn from them. Someday, you might be the person young folks look up to. Be a role model at every stage of your life—and never stop learning.


3. “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Courage covers a lot of ground—from the firefighter who races into a burning building to the shy kid who rustles up the nerve to join a school club. Here’s the deal: Life doesn’t always go as planned, so when it throws you a curve, face it head on, even if you’re shaking in your boots. Yeah, you might be disappointed, but shift gears, think ahead, and stay focused on your goals.


4. “You women are always raising hell about one thing when it’s something else you’re really sore about. Don’t you think it’s about time you told me what put the burr under your saddle about me?” – G.W. McLintock, McLintock!


Will men ever understand women? Will women ever understand men? Will anyone ever understand anyone!?! Maybe. But it takes work! Whether it’s a romantic, friendship, co-worker, or family relationship, it’s sometimes challenging. So be honest, share your thoughts and feelings, enjoy each other’s company, and most of all, support each other in good times and bad. If someone ticks you off, tell them why. If you tick someone off, be humble, own up, make amends, and learn from the experience.


5. “Out here a man settles his own problems.” – Tom Doniphon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

There are a few ways to interpret this one. Learn practical skills. You have a leaky faucet? Learn to fix it yourself. Learn how to sew a loose button, how to make a budget, check your tire pressure, or how to plant a garden.

Learn social skills. We don’t advise getting mad or getting even if someone does you wrong, but you can have an open, honest discussion about the situation. Learn to accept an apology and to give an apology. Admit when you’re wrong. That takes more courage than one might think.

But also, be big enough to know that sometimes, you can’t do it on your own. If you need help or advice, ask. That’s how you learn, grow, network and build solid relationships.


6. “You’re short on ears and long on mouth” – Jacob McCandles, Big Jake

One word: LISTEN!!!!! Listen to what a person is saying before you say anything. Many times, people are so busy thinking of a reply, or a point that they want to make, and they don’t actually hear what the speaker is saying. So respect the person you’re talking to, your friends, family, co-workers, your boss…by hearing them out and not jumping to conclusions.


7. “Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” – From the John Wayne Enterprises website

Okay, “stupid” is kind of harsh. The point is get educated—whether that means going to college, learning a trade, on the job training, or graduating from the old streetwise “school of hard knocks!” Every day offers lessons you can use in life—from common sense (those “aha” and “duh!” moments!), to acquiring a useful skill, to learning empathy and compassion. This adult thing is not easy! The more aware, knowledgeable and open you are, the easier it gets.


8. “Looking back is a bad habit” – Rooster Cogburn, True Grit

Yes, and no. We learn from our past mistakes and experiences. But, dwelling on our previous mistakes or regrets does nothing to move us forward. The past is over. Don’t get stuck there. Don’t live your life there. Take the lessons you need, and look to the future.


9. “In my profession, you trust too much you don’t celebrate many birthdays” – J.B. Brooks, The Shootist

Trust, like love, puts us in a very vulnerable position, but both are necessary in life. Trust is something that’s earned, and when it’s broken, it’s not easily regained. So be trustworthy, but also careful whom you trust. We’re not saying be totally jaded and suspicious of everyone you meet. But, just as you have to prove you can be trusted, so should others. When it comes to social media, be especially careful how much of your private life you share, and choose your connections carefully.


10. Sorry don’t get it done, Dude” – John T. Chance, Rio Bravo

A sincere apology can make or break a relationship. And, now we’re back to trust. Apologies must come from the heart and be followed up by actions that ensure you’re to be trusted in the future. A hasty apology, uttered just to avoid a confrontation, like John T. Chance says, doesn’t “get it done.” If you’re on the other end of an apology, be respectful. Hear them out, yes, now we’re back to listening! See how this adulting thing works? Emotions are usually high in these situations, so choose your words carefully.


11. “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learnt something from yesterday.” – Inscription on John Wayne’s headstone

You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Yes, you’ll make mistakes and some things are out of your control, but still, go for it. Chase your dreams. Live your life to the fullest. Every day is a gift for you to make the most of.  


12. “And I am not intoxicated…yet!” – G.W. McLintock, McLintock!

We got nothing. It’s just a cool quote.