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When those 13-second moments crop up in our lives, we can choose to fight or quit.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

February 4, 2022

4 Min Read
Football at line of scrimmage
LAST PLAY: Are you prepared for those “13-second moments” that crop up on your farm or ranch? When Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was faced with the last 13 seconds of regulation play in the 2022 AFC Championship game, he could have given up — but he persevered instead. We can do the same in our personal and professional lives. David Madison/Getty images

“When it’s grim, be the Grim Reaper.”

Those words were the last words Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said to his quarterback Patrick Mahomes as he took the field in the final 13 seconds of the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game Jan. 23 against the Buffalo Bills. He had 13 seconds in regulation play and a championship on the line.

We all know how the game ends, of course. Mahomes takes those 13 seconds and connects to Travis Kelce, thus setting up the 49-yard field goal that tied the game and sent it into overtime. And then, with one advantageous coin toss, and another connection to Kelce, the Chiefs win with a touchdown in overtime.

You might say Mahomes earned his reaper’s scythe.

Fight or give up

Now I’m no sports uber-fan. And, yes, I am aware the Chiefs would go on to lose their next game and be kept out of the Super Bowl in a cruel twist of fate.

But I will say there’s a leadership lesson to be learned here that applies to our families, our farms, our ranches, our agribusinesses and beyond.

You see, we all have those metaphorical 13-second moments that crop up in our lives. Mother Nature throws a tantrum and blows away a lifetime of work. A child is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. We lose a section of rented ground to another farmer. We’re hip-deep in spring calving, the PTA needs four dozen cupcakes for the fundraiser by morning, and you forgot to get eggs on your 50-mile round trip to the grocery store.

There are major 13-second moments and more trivial 13-second moments. But how we choose to meet them is the difference between winning and giving up.

Teamwork

Know the teammates you can trust to come through when the game is literally on the line. No farmer or rancher completely farms without the help of a team. Whether that team is family or service providers or a group of peers you can lean on, everyone needs that teammate who will help you get the ball over the line. The best teammates bring out the best in us. They challenge our conventional wisdom, and they share their own.

Strategy

The game isn’t won if you don’t look to the play after the next and build a strategy to use all of the resources you have. Now, you can keep the ball and try to run it through the strongest defensive line, or you can pass it to your teammate and set your team up to score on the next play. Both are valid choices, but only one results in a potential win.

Farming is a long game and isn’t won with just one play. You strategize not just this crop year, but the one after it, and the one after it and so forth. That’s how you set yourself up for success in the future, and how you respond to adversity today.

Practice and prepare

Without the hours of drills, without the years of playing the game and watching game tapes, without the mental fortitude to calm his nerves, Mahomes wouldn’t be in a mental place to win. He was prepared to make the most of those 13 seconds because he’d practiced the moves and mentally prepared for years.

We prepare for our 13-second moments by taking every opportunity to learn from field days and reading updated research. We have years of planting and harvesting experience under our belts. We have daily conversations with our Creator to center ourselves.  

Attitude

Mahomes went out there ready to be the Grim Reaper for the Bills. He did not give up, even though conventional wisdom had so many in the stands giving up and heading for the exits.

That’s maybe the most critical component of successful people: Whether they’re farming or they’re working in an office in town, the successful person will not give up, even if conventional wisdom says they should. As long as there’s a chance — no matter how slim — they’re going to go out on the field and give it all they’ve got.

When your 13-second moment comes, you have the same choice Mahomes had. You can give up and give in to certain loss. Or you can fight to the end and give yourself a chance to win.

I know which one I’ll choose.

 

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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