The Middle Part: Lessons from South Park

I had the opportunity several years ago to watch an episode of the sophisticated and intelligent animated show called “South Park.” It was a linguistic smorgasbord and I learned several phrases that I cannot repeat in polite company. The story line, however, tickled me.

The main characters of the show are foul-mouthed children who go through life highlighting the absurdities of the adult world, a raunchy version of Antoine de St. Exupery’s Little Prince. This episode revolved around a number of Keebler-like gnomes who rushed around stealing underwear from people’s bedroom dressers and occasionally from their bodies!

Bear with me, there is a valuable point here.

They stole them and hurriedly took them back to their workshop in a hollow tree. The boys decided to follow them after a particular raid and to their surprise, the workshop was thriving. Gnomes running around stacking the underwear in curious yet seemingly meaningful piles. One of the boys (I don’t recall which) asked the foreman “What the *&^$% are you doing in here, man?” To which, the head gnome replied: “Look on the wall Our business plan is simple!”

The camera pans up and over to a whiteboard on the wall that outlined their plan for success:

Phase 1: Collect underwear

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Profit

I had to laugh. How many times have you heard of someone who had a lofty goal in mind but no plan for achieving it? They sit at “A” with a vision for “C” and no clue whatsoever as to what must be done in “B” to make it happen!

The middle part typically involves hard work, focus and determination. Obstacles tend to present themselves in this phase and a successful crossing of this “no-man’s land” requires extraordinary diligence, patience and a sense of timing.

Consider my own experience with this battlefield – my several victories and many failures – I would like to share a few points that will hopefully save you time, money, and therapy! Here goes nothing:

1. Dare to dream. Think big, not impossible.

2. Believe in yourself. Enlarge the borders of your tent whenever and wherever required.

3. Believe in others. Invest in their success.

4. Recognize the oscillation between work and rest.

5. Never complain about anything. Complaint wastes potentially useful time and energy.

6. Keep a “to do” list and a “to not do” list. Don’t be your own worst enemy

7. Refrain from blame. Accept responsibility when it is yours to accept.

8. Never underestimate the power of thankfulness. A starting point is a starting point is a starting point.

9. Receive correction with equanimity, no matter who or what offers it or how it is delivered. Don’t let yourself off on a technicality.

10. Look for ways to be a blessing to others. Your fulfillment depends on your ability to assist others to theirs.

10 thoughts on “The Middle Part: Lessons from South Park

  1. Well, that’s the problem isn’t it? This sums up so much of where people fail. The collecting is fun. The profit is fun. The work? Meh. Turning what you enjoy in to well, what you enjoy requires a plan that will take some hard work. The middle is: plan the work, then work the plan. There’s no way around it. Thanks, great post.


  2. N. Kolya

    This reminds me of the character Otto in “A Fish Called Wanda.”

    Airline Employee: Aisle or window, smoking or non?
    Otto: What was the part in the middle?

    I think that’s how a lot of people end up looking at their lives – “What was the part in the middle?

    I appreciated your list which had such thoughtful points about how to make the most of your life – great stuff!


  3. Joshua

    Thanks Gregg!!!
    This post hit home this morning, and diligent application shall begin now!
    Thanks again for the simply outlined starting point!!!
    Have a great week.
    Simplicity in Southpark….too funny


  4. Doug

    The middle part is called “your life”. Enjoy it and consciously participate in it. Great list, thanks for the Monday jump start!


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