The Greatest Showman is one of my FAVORITE movies of ALL TIME! I have seen it at least 20 times and have listened to the soundtrack maybe 1,000 times or more!
Why do I love the movie so much? Is it the dancing? The music? The acting? Those are all wonderful, and yet I love the movie because it’s loaded with Relationship Development and Transformation!
Yes, this movie teaches so many of the very same lessons Paul and I teach our students every day. Over the next few blogs, I will give you “Stacey’s cut”—that is my interpretation of the film using a Relationship Development lens.
(SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, maybe don’t read this just yet.)
Let’s begin. . .
It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you.
This is where you wanna be.
Phineas & Charity are complete opposites (like most lovers). Phineas is a poor boy with nothing material to his name. He meets Charity, the young daughter of his father’s wealthy client. She has everything money can buy but lives a sad, isolated life.
What I love is how Phineas EMBODIES the Masculine energy of PROVIDING for the woman he loves…
Although Phineas cannot give Charity any MATERIAL gifts, he provides for her with what he can: entertainment, humor, trust, connection, and LOVE.
In one of my FAVORITE moments of the film, sitting on the beach after Finn just got slapped by Charity’s father. Charity tells Finn she’s being sent away and says “I don’t know what will become of me”.
In pure Masculine providing mode, Finn reassures her that “he does”! Takes her hand in his and leads her to a compelling vision of her future, full of fun, playfulness and being with him!
Take note… even when Phineas has NO MEANS to provide moniterily for his woman, he is still absolutely able to provide for her in ways that mean EVERYTHING to her.
I hear all the time from women who say they struggle because they earn more $$ than their partner and that it puts a strain on the masculine/feminine energy.
There are so many MORE ways that a man provides for his woman. Most people just lack the skill set to deliver on it.
Money is the LAST thing that really matters to most women (quality women). Thinking that MONEY is relevant to the Masculine’s ability to provide is just old-school, demand relationship thinking. Back from a time when men did NOT provide anything to a women BUT money.
We are so far past that now.
As Phineas displays… his confidence, making her laugh when she’s sad, promising to be there for her, his leadership, his strength, his dedication to her… he is PROVIDING for her at such a deep level!
The next segment that is awesome in this film is how we see Phineas’ driving force need for Significance and Charity’s driving force for connection.
Naturally, Phineas has never truly felt like he mattered much in the world due to his “station” in life. This is a very common and natural dynamic when people grow up “poor” or without. They have a driving force to make sure they have money and get the “significance” they felt they were denied through their young life.
Finn’s need for SIGNIFICANCE drives him, overwhelming him at times, and causes him to take on riskier and grander business endeavors.
There are a few really cool moments where the film conveys this to the viewer…even without uttering any words.
One of those is a beautiful moment when they are dancing to the song “A Million Dreams” and you can see Phineas looking in the window at a couple eating dinner at a restaurant. Without saying a word, the audience knows that he is regretting that he cannot provide that “dinner out” to his love…and knowing that she “deserves it”.
In one, tiny, almost mis-able moment, in a moment of dance, Charity TURNS Finn’s CHIN away from the window towards HER. As if to say to him “I don’t need those things, I need me and you”, she redirects his focus to THEM (their connection) and away from his lack of significance.
That moment conveys SO much, with no words!
A theme that will repeat many times over, as Charity watches Phineas chasing the Significance monster (the bucket with the hole in it) that can never really be ENOUGH to satisfy him, knowing there is not much she can do to “change him”.
In Relationship Development, we teach that having a driving force of Significance is like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it.
That’s the CATCH with the need for Significance…. Just as you get CLOSE enough to the “thing” that you think you needed to feel “Significant” (special, enough, like you matter)… as you get close enough to it to grab it – it suddenly becomes “within your current comfort zone” and it loses its “Specialness” and “Significance”.
You know what I mean?
It’s like, when you set a big GOAL that you want to reach, that feels WAY outside your comfort zone. And you KNOW that when you reach THAT goal, then you will feel really significant! That’s what you want.
Well, a funny thing happens on your journey to that goal… as you get closer, but it’s still out of reach, it still feels really significant and you still hunger for having it.
But just before you reach your goal, something starts to SHIFT.
You realize two things…. (1) The GOAL is starting to become in your “current comfort zone”, because that’s where you “live” now. That’s your new level and it feels kinda “normal” now. And (2) as you approach that GOAL level a funny thing happens… you get a GLIMPSE of the NEXT LEVEL!!!!!
Haha! As soon as you reach your GOLD and you see that just past the GOLD is someone else and their PLATINUM, you suddenly feel like the GOLD is not so special and PLATINUM is where it’s AT! (you couldn’t see Platinum when you were so far from Gold, but now that you can, Gold feels insignificant)
Then you think – ok, that PLATINUM (next goal) – THAT is the significant goal! That’s what I want! And it sucks because just as you approach PLATINUM, the whole dynamic repeats itself.
Significance as a driving force, is the bucket with the HOLE in the bottom!
Nothing will ever be ENOUGH to fill it…. because it’s LEAKING!
This dynamic is so beautifully played out in The Greatest Showman, when Jenny Lind enters the picture.
Jenny is also driven by her need for Significance. In a different flavor than Finn, Jenny’s flavor is to collect ovations until she can feel ENOUGH (like she’s worthy and not a fraud).
Jenny uses Finn as much as Finn uses Jenny…. Two “hole in the bucket” seekers, on a fast pace race to Significance Mountain! (you get it now right… this can’t go well)
Jenny’s famous “Never Enough” song is the perfect anthem for the driving force that brought her and Phineas together. Listen to the words! (it’s teaching Human Needs Psychology right there)
There’s one moment that I really love in this film…. After their daughter’s ballet recital, in their bedroom, Charity tries to WARN Phineas. She tells him “when is it going to be enough”?
Phineas proceeds to tell Charity “You don’t understand”. She tries to add “No, I do”, but he won’t hear it “No, you don’t”.
He’s so stuck in his blueprint and false belief that Money & Significance will fix everything. And he KNOWS that Charity doesn’t have that blueprint, so how could she understand.
Spoiler Alert: Don’t forget this moment when, at the end of the film, standing on the beach, he tells Charity “You tried to warn me and I didn’t listen”. THAT moment in the bedroom is the moment Finn was referring to.
Can you see it now?
Here’s the thing….. in life, when you keep going with Significance as your driving force, and your blueprint is full of FALSE beliefs (like money will fix everything), and you PLOW forward at fast speed…. You are heading for a crash.
That’s exactly what happens when Jenny makes her move for Phineas.
This is SUCH classic Demand Relationship!
Jenny waits until she reads the review about her show and knows that, in her words, “I’ve given you the world, haven’t I?”
Now she has the POWER in the relationship.
So she makes her move for what she wants.
When Phineas rejects her, she pulls a CLASSIC Demand Relationship move – well, then, I’m just going to take everything that matters to you away from you (punishment, withholding, leverage).
When Phineas tries to guilt her (Demand Relationship) “but Jenny, you’ll ruin me”…..
Jenny has ONE phenomenal line of DIVINE TRUTH….
“When people are careless with other’s emotions, they bring ruin upon themselves.”
Said differently, as we say in Relationship Development, “everyone lives in the results of the decisions they make”.
No one is to blame but US for our circumstances.
Such an awesome teaching opportunity!
This film does an incredible job of depicting the dynamics of Relationship Development that we teach every day!
In next week’s article, I’m going to continue with an awesome view into how The Greatest Showman so perfectly demonstrates the panic point and breakthrough that so many of us face as we advance to our next levels!!
Don’t miss it!