“Stay in your lane. Comparison kills creativity and joy".
- Brene Brown
For years I've been telling myself that "Comparison is the thief of joy", yet Kris has always pointed out that it's just another empty platitude if you don’t actually put it into practice. I'm still guilty of it; I still scroll through the endless feed of pictures and posts and compare myself or our business to everyone else's.
You know what it does?
It kills my joy. Every. Single. Time.
Kris is really good about staying in his own lane and not caring what everyone else is doing, what they're creating, or how successful they seem to be on social media. He keeps his head down and stays in his lane, and he's 💯 happier because of it.
Years ago, when Kris ran our social media accounts, he made a conscious decision not to follow a ton of other woodworkers and it wasn't because he didn't support their craft or appreciate what they were creating. It's simply because he didn't want to be subconsciously influenced by someone else's work. He didn't want to look over in the other lane, because he knew it would distract us from our own journey, distract us from designs we had yet to dream up on our own.
I once had a job that I absolutely hated.
It was filled with drama and endless hours of negativity. When you-know-what would hit the fan, seemingly every day, I had an office mate who would motion with her finger for her head to point downward to her laptop, telling herself and everyone else around her that she was going to focus on her task at hand and not get involved with the chaos around her. She would keep her head down and do the work, and she was always more cheerful than everyone else in the tight room we shared. I always admired her for it, and it was a lesson that has stuck with me ever since.
To keep my head down, to focus on my daily work, and to not compare my beginning with someone else's middle or end.
It's funny, because we've received messages from followers regarding the secret to our "success" and I'm telling you, we do not have it all figured out. We struggle on a daily basis with stress, anxiety, and self doubt, but from the outside looking in it may seem like we have it all together. I promise that we also are fighting that daily battle of keeping our heads down while trying to not get distracted by what’s going on in the lanes all around us. It’s a daily struggle (for me) to do this, but each morning I aim to choose whether I’ll let comparison kill my joy, kill my creativity for that day.
Today I choose to stay in my own lane with my head down and my eyes on the journey ahead. I hope the same for you too.
Like many great discoveries in history—chocolate chip cookies, Post-it notes, the Slinky—Kris and Kelley Denby came up with their popular Texas wall hangings almost by accident.
In 2013—about a year into their sputtering business of repurposing furniture, called Hemlock & Heather—the Denbys decided to make and donate something to a silent auction that would benefit the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West. Kelley, who is from West, asked her husband to build something “Texasy.”
So Kris came up with a colorful wall hanging made entirely from reclaimed wood and in the iconic shape of Texas. It sold for $150.
“People just went crazy for it,” recalls Kelley. “We were like, Maybe we’re on to something.”