Note To Self

Comparison Doesn’t Get You Somewhere. Sandcastles Do.

In her latest Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks explores the problem with comparison, and the value of doing things your way.

By Emily Brooks

Note To Self

In her latest Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks explores the problem with comparison, and the value of doing things your way.

By Emily Brooks

There is an article I revisit every six months or so. It is a profile on Donald Glover in The New Yorker and it is ironically titled, ‘Donald Glover Can’t Save You’. I use the word ironic here because it saves me every time. Each time, though, a different quote comes to the rescue. Last week it was this one: “Make the best sandcastle.” You can take what you want from that sentence. He did, and so did I. And what I took from that sentence when I re-read it on a tired evening in a busy week was focus on what you are doing. Don’t compare. Don’t compete. And if you do, compete only with yourself. To make YOUR best sandcastle.

If you don’t know who Donald Glover is, he is a freak. But the best kind. He has been a writer on 30 Rock, a stand-up comedian, an actor, a rapper, a singer, a director. He has won Grammys and Emmys and he is now Simba in The Lion King. He has been able to transcend careers and industries so easily because he has always done it his way. Pharrell Williams, on the other hand, has not. And today I am here to talk about Pharrell Williams. If you don’t know Pharrell, which you definitely do, he is a music producer and singer and in his early days he was always “the guy standing next to the guy”. At one point, he and his colleague were responsible for 43 percent of all music played on the radio in the United States. Yet Pharrell never had the spotlight, and it bothered him. So when he made his first solo album in 2006, “there was more braggadocio in it than there was purpose and intention.” It, of course, didn’t work.

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