Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Audi - you're only ever racing yourself

On June 1, 1997 Mary Schmich published in the Chicago Tribune her famous column: "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" which would be later known as "wear sunscreen"... One of the (many) outstanding lines goes "Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." This beautiful line, and I made it a point to read the whole article when I used to teach on the last session of any course, is indeed incredibly freeing.
We are competitive by nature, but then life comes in the way. The person who graduated top of the class when I was at university (which was such an outstanding class that anyone in the top 10 could have been top of the class any other year) is now divorced with one child living back in her room and sleeping on her teenage bed with little or no career whatsoever.
Schmich's line is echoed in that brilliant new Audi campaign "you're only ever racing yourself" - something I was thinking about this morning. I was incredibly unlucky in my ad career. I remember this incident. The client - an automotive company - wanted to do an ad about the "pride of the owner". I gave out my concept and the big boss said it was off brief. Two art directors tried to intervene defending the idea as they got excited about it. Two days later the boss comes rushing telling us to come see this "brilliant ad about the pride of the owner" by Peugeot. The ad turned out to be my exact idea - almost frame per frame.
If I give this example it is because, I was also incredibly lucky in my career. Clients paid for me to go to breathtaking places, I got to be in the same room on first name basis with individuals people just glimpse from afar, I was part of remarkable events and the list continues. I made more errors than most due to my generosity but it is that same bonhomie that I display which attracted all these fanciful things that I ended up being part of.
To go back to Mrs Schmish, "Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's." Lady luck manifested herself so incredibly oddly in my life. "Life is not about what happens  to you but how you react to it when it happens", I kept saying that to students. And one day a student retorted "you always say that, and you also say that you have been through incredible setbacks, I did not notice anything different in how you behaved". To which I smiled and said "managing to finish your day is sometimes the best reaction to what happens to you".
Yesterday was an incredibly tough day, but - as Audi said - I was "ever racing (my)self".
I won.