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Gather a different perspective

Cowtowns and Skyscrapers: We get so focused on a goal that we miss the rest of the picture.

Jennifer M. Latzke

December 15, 2023

3 Min Read
Photographer with digital camera on tripod
PERSPECTIVE: Taking a different perspective now and then can help us meet our goals for our farms and our families.Zbynek Pospisil/Getty Images

As a photographer, let me tell you, it’s possible to get lost in the viewfinder.

See, you get so hyper-focused on composing the shot that you are oblivious to everything that’s outside of that little glass rectangle. You can miss a beautiful photo, if you would have just moved the camera to the left or right. Or you can put yourself into a dangerous situation by not being aware of your surroundings. (It’s usually the latter in my case.)

So, we teach new photographers to look up every now and then when they’re shooting. We teach them to shoot from a higher angle, a lower angle, to feature the details in a tight shot, and to think wide and expansive in a landscape shot. And if all those tips don’t work, we use different lenses that allow us to see the shot better.

These rules can also apply to our personal and professional lives.

Change the perspective

I know it seems counterproductive to advise you to take a step back from the pursuit of your goals. After all, “driven to succeed” is an admirable trait. But sometimes that step back and pause can provide us with a better perspective to show us opportunities or challenges that we haven’t accounted for in our plans.

For example, so often we gauge success by how many acres are farmed, or the yield brought into the grain bins. But do we see what it cost us personally and the farm financially? And, if we’re never reevaluating how we farm or we’re farming on autopilot, do we risk missing the life-altering challenges lurking just outside of our attention zone that could threaten its long-term viability?

We have a lot of stereotypes and preconceived notions in agriculture. But if we could just take a moment and change our perspective, we could see broader opportunities and prepare for the challenges we might otherwise have missed.

For example, a speaker at the 2023 Kansas Livestock Association Convention in December shared how beef marketing campaigns are much more sophisticated and data-driven today than they were a generation ago. This is because consumers have changed their habits.

They’ve “cut the cord” and are consuming media online rather than through a cable box, making a 30-second commercial on the local news less effective than it was 20 years ago. They have different consumption patterns and base their purchase decisions on different factors than generations past.

You could see that there were a few in the room who hadn’t changed their perspectives of the beef consumer in quite some time. But I applaud them for going to the session and broadening their perspective of today’s consumers.

This pause, this change of perspective, not only helps us meet the consumer where they are, but it also helps us meet our end goals as well. And it shines a light on what’s lurking just outside our peripheral vision that could harm our industry and allows us to prepare for it.

Perspectives are not principles

Look, I’m not saying give up your principles or your core beliefs. I’m not saying it’s bad to be focused on a goal and be industrious in meeting that goal.

I’m just saying, take a break and look at things from a different angle, or use data and tools to help you get a clearer picture of the situation at hand. Look outside of that viewfinder to the broader picture.

You may have a better picture waiting for you.

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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