A couple weeks ago, I took my dog camping at Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway near Quitaque, Texas (that’s “kitty-quay” for those who are curious.) Part of our adventure in the back of my medium-sized SUV was my 6-mile round-trip hike to the bottom of the canyon on Saturday morning. The temperature was in the mid-60s, but the wind was fierce. By the time I came up on a little bench just past the No. 14 half-mile marker, I was ready to rest and take a sip of water. In fact, I was wondering if I had yet again put myself on the wrong trail somehow and gone way off track from my original hike.
Sitting on that little bench, looking out over the horizon, I took in the view of salmon-and-sand colored canyon walls not too far away. They reminded me of those in Palo Duro Canyon State Park a little closer to Amarillo, and were less like the blood-red canyon walls I had seen primarily since entering the Caprock Canyons park.
But when I looked behind me, the view was completely different. Immediately, the landscape was prairie-like with tall grass, and beyond that rose the red canyon walls. It struck me then, how so much in life is all a matter of perspective. Were you to only look one direction or the other from that bench, you would think of the terrain in terms of only that view.
As people, we know those around us only based on our perspective—our ability to see them from whichever angles they present. We control the perspective of others through our actions and behavior and determine what angles each new person is allowed to see.
In life, this is how we separate friends from acquaintances, how we keep others at bay if we’re uncomfortable with close relationships and how we protect our reputation. As Christians, protecting our reputation is important to protecting our witness—trying to be like Christ so that we can show His image to the world.
As authors and business people, perspective comes into play in areas like our branding as we decide what “face” to present to our customers, our suppliers, our peers and others. I was recently involved in a discussion of branding over head shots that involved not only the aesthetic nature of the decision, but the statement that even a simple image could portray. Ultimately, the decision became one of determining if the “face” this author presented needed to be adjusted for the public in order to answer issues of discomfort for potential customers. Ultimately, the author (who was comfortable with her image) had to decide how closely she wanted to associate with her following—whether or not to let them see “the real her” or present them with a “professional” image.
There’s no wrong answer to the question because it will be different for everyone, but it is important when deciding on this kind of perspective that you carefully consider the reason for your choice. Today’s consumers are more interested in knowing and liking the people who sell them their products and services—even liking what they stand for. In that climate, being more open about who you really are can be a good thing, and many authors are having good success using more friendly lines of communication with their fans. Take into consideration details like your genre (Is your genre one that attracts interactive fans?), the overall nature of your audience (Do you write for middle-aged women who have a strong social media presence?) and your own personality (Are you too introverted to interact with fans?) Then determine the proper perspective to create for fans, build it and maintain it throughout your branding.