If you grew up in the 80’s, you likely grew up with John Hughes films. “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off”, “Weird Science”, and “The Breakfast Club”, just to name a few.
With the exception of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (another classic!), all of the Hughes-directed films of the 80’s dealt with upper-middle class teens in some degree of angst. But the films were layered with an unmistakable heart that produced a long tail of nostalgia which still lingers today.
One of the most iconic and impactful films was actually Hughes’ first endeavor, “Sixteen Candles”.
“Sixteen Candles” launched the career of Molly Ringwald and changed the tone of teen comedies from raunchy to real. It also gave a heroic voice to the outcasts and the geeks, personified by Farmer Ted (played brilliantly by my 80s twin, Anthony Michael Hall).
In one classic scene, Farmer Ted comes clean and admits that he doesn’t exactly run with the coolest crowd. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that he is their leader.
“So, you’re kinda like the King of the Dipsh*ts”, Ringwald deadpans.
Haven’t we all been king (or queen!) of the dipsh*ts at some point in our lives? Of course! And that is actually a very good thing!
Where Are You on the Pyramid?
At some point, we may have been at the top of our small pyramid. The best athlete in our high school. The fastest person in our workout group. The lead salesperson in a boutique firm. The CEO of a small, private company. We were comfortable and confident in our pyramid. We may not have realized it, but we were the Kings (and Queens) of the Dipsh*ts!
Then we moved on to another phase and started back at the bottom.
Suddenly, we weren’t even the best athlete in our college dorm room (and we only had one other roommate!). We upgraded our training group and couldn’t keep up with the top eschelon. We moved to a bigger firm and our sales lingered in the middle of the pack. Our company was purchased by a large, public institution and we settled into middle management.
What hapeened to our cozy little pyramid?
Nobody Stays On Top Forever
It can be incredibly intimidating and humbling to shed our smaller world and move into the big leagues. Everyone seems bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter. How will we survive? Is it possible to slink back to our smaller pyramid and contimue to wear our crown?
If we are going to stay resilient, we have to recognize that life is full of journeys up and down the pyramid. Sometimes we will be at the top. Sometimes, we will be at the bottom. But if we keep moving forward and channel our inner confidence, we will eventually end up back on top of a larger pyramid!
Conquer Your Own Pyramid Before Moving On to Others
Where will we find that confidence? We find it by spending at least some portion of our lives as King of the Dipsh*ts!
If we can be the best in something, no matter how insignificant, it gives us the confidence to take on new challenges. We can build on our success. We can expand our little corner of the world. Our victories may seem inconsequential to the masses but, deep down, we know that we have earned our view at the top of the pyramid.
And once we have experienced that feeling, we can tap into it throughout our lives.
Problems arise when we try to move off our pyramid before earning the right to be King of the Dipsh*ts! We want to play Varsity without excelling on JV. We want to handle the complex sales without mastering the transactional. We want to run a giant team without earning our stripes as an individual contributor.
It is so important to exhibit the motivation and drive to constantly move up and improve our situation. But we need to conquer our own pyramid first before we set our sights on the top of another!
Everyone Deserves A Place At the Top
There are so many pyramids in our lives. Even with all our talent and effort, we will not be at the top of every pyramid. That is life and that is okay. But we can always be working our way up the pyramid! We can always be improving and learning new skills.
And the best way to move up the pyramid is to leverage the confidence we gain from spending time as King of the Dipsh*ts!
Everyone deserves a place to feel comfortable and confident. Everyone deserves, even for a few fleeting moments, to stand at the top of the pyramid!
Farmer Ted Farmer was a self-proclaimed geek. But he was true to himself and he was not afraid move up and conquer another pyramid. How? By recognizing that his label of King of the Dipsh*ts was actually something to celebrate and embrace.
Until next week, keep smiling!