The Greatest Showman: Motivation (Part 3 of 3)
The Greatest Showman was rich with life and work lessons. Barnum, as a small boy, was extremely poor. His father died when he was young, and he found himself trying to survive in a world filled with challenges. From this humble start grew his imagination, then his drive to succeed and raise himself up out of poverty and obscurity. Along the way, he met a young lady far above his social class. He saw what “success” looked like to the wealthy, and he wanted it. The seeds of success, fed by external motivators were planted. Again, the desire to achieve is not a bad thing, but ask the question why is that achievement important. Take an objective look at the why. Does it lead where you really want to go?
External motivators are notoriously unreliable, primarily because we cannot control them. Usually they are founded in the opinions and views of other people such as acceptance and acclamation. In my experience, these types of motivators too often become a primary focus. Inevitably, they let us down.
Barnum reached a turning point in the movie, when he realized what he was chasing would never give him sustained satisfaction. In fact, most of what he needed for that he already had. He turned to internal motivators. One important competency of emotional intelligence (EQ) is engaging intrinsic motivation. As a coach and consultant, I use the tools of EQ to “inspire, enlighten and encourage others so that they may achieve the transformation they desire”. I do this largely through Six Seconds, a global organization with the goal of 1 billion people practicing emotional intelligence.
How much intrinsic motivation does an individual have? I use this analogy in my coaching: if you need an energy source, and the only source available to you is the outlet in the wall, then as long as the electricity stays on and you don’t have to go anywhere, you’re in good shape. This is like the external motivators that Barnum was looking to for his success: wealth, fame, recognition. Back to our energy source analogy. What if the electricity goes out? What if you really need to go somewhere and need a source of energy?
Think of intrinsic motivation as an internal battery. More to the point, think of it as the capacity of your internal battery, and the choice to use that capacity (competency). In life and the workplace, having significant intrinsic motivation can maintain energy output even when external motivators are absent or unreliable. Just like a battery, how we keep our internal battery charged, and how we use it (or if we use it), will determine how effective we can be at accomplishing the things we want/need to do. As a consultant and coach, I can firmly say that recognizing and utilizing intrinsic values is a learnable task that can not only bring about greater personal success, but it can also bring greater success to teams.
Again, The Great Showman was a truly great movie with some wonderful life and work lessons. A reminder that “emotions drive people, people drive performance” (Six Seconds).