Putting in a lot of hours on the stationary bike has necessitated the watching of some older movies. The most recent watch was the classic comedy Old School. A band of past their prime men unite with some college students in order to form a fraternity and craziness ensues. Like most of the silly comedies of the genre, the heroes rally a form of victory despite their lazy and generally idiotic ways. Although there is plenty to focus on from this film, the one scene that I want to revisit is Frank “The Tank” doing a lone streaking run.
With a microphone in hand and no inhibitions to be found, Will Ferrell’s character screams at the top of his lungs, “We’re going streaking!” He attempts to lead a group of naked followers through the quad and into the gymnasium. The problem is that no one follows. So he is a solo nudist running down the middle of the street to be found by his wife and her friends. It’s the beginning of the end of Frank’s marriage as he tumbles out of the trust tree and fully into his alter ego of Frank the Tank. Of course in this movie, idiocy is celebrated but how about real life?
Derek Sivers has a great Ted Talk about “starting a movement”. The key difference between an idiot and a movement is often numbers. The right ideas are not always the ones that win. Galileo was excommunicated even though he was right. It’s the lone idiot who can get people to follow them that wins the day. Since the best ideas don’t always win and traction often matters more than objective truth, what causes should we look to champion? This is where the Frank the Tank example truly matters.
The causes that are truly worth it are the ones where you’re not afraid to be the lone idiot streaking. Frank’s cause may not have been intelligent or popular but he went at it with full force. Our passion and not our popularity should decide the direction that we run. And the other uncomfortable but necessary part to any passion project is that there are times where forward motion is going to require us to be naked and unafraid. It won’t always be pretty but it will be genuine.
You’re my boy Blue!