5 Lessons in Embracing Courage from The Greatest Showman Movie
I’ve just returned from the Christmas summer holidays inspired by many of the great movies released at this time. Somehow, there’s nothing like Hollywood’s ability to take a story and weave it into a compelling and insightful learning experience, and movie that really moved my soul was The Greatest Showman, a musical extravaganza based loosely on the life of P.T. Barnum, the legendary ‘father of show business’.
Championed by Australian ‘triple threat’ singer, actor and dancer, Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman was a project, 7 years in the making. A musical adventure with a compelling and catchy score that had some powerful lessons on embracing greater courage, resilience and self-acceptance.
No matter whether we’re in the field of business and need to promote ourselves (like P.T. Barnum) or we’re just looking to find our creative dreams passions and live more fully in our light, COURAGE and SELF-BELIEF are the cornerstones to great success.
Courage Lesson #1:
At Some Point We’re All Called to Step into the Centre of the Ring
- What is it holds must people back from fully standing in their light?
- What is it often stops us from accepting ourselves and having the courage to shine bright?
Prior to the making of The Greatest Showman movie the producers gathered all the lead singers, musical writers, actors and chorus for a workshop in New York City to pitch their musical concept to the executives of Fox Studios.
In one of these workshop sessions, Tony nominee and 13 year Broadway veteran, Keala Settle was called on to sing the key musical number and anthem for the movie, This is Me. However, having never appeared in a movie production before, and having only heard the song performed by another legendary singer, Keala’s nerves got the best of her. More so, she was even afraid to step out from behind the music stand and sing in front of the chorus and Fox Executives.
In fact it was only when director, Michael Gracey said to her “Keala, you HAVE TO step out from behind the stand, and walk into the centre of the (circus) ring”, that she managed to summon the courage to do so.
Take a look at this inspiring rendition of the song and this liberating workshop performance here:
At some point in our lives we are all called to ‘step beyond boundaries of our comfort zones’ and step fully into the ring. For its often only here in the centre, when we cast away our fears, when we let go of what others may think of us, that we truly get to let our light shine bright.
So where in your life is COURAGE now calling you forth to ‘Step into the Ring’?
Courage Lesson #2:
Embrace the Power of Difference
- How much of our ordinary lives is spent trying to fit in and conform to other people’s expectations?
P.T Barnum knew that the key to standing-out in the world was being different. Rather than trying to blend in with the status quo. In fact, one of the most pertinent lines in the movie and its trailer is when Jackman, as P.T. Barnum says …
“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else”
In many ways P.T. Barnum was the Elon Musk and the Steve Jobs of the 1800’s, often challenging the status quo of conventional beliefs and using imagination, creativity and sometimes even sleight of mouth to create new levels of interest and curiosity in his shows.
While modern society conventionally tries to get us all to fit in, be accepted and follow the tribal rules of our families, cultures and education system, its often those that don’t fit in that are becoming the real change agents and transformational leaders of our time.
The key then is: To find the courage to live your own authentic life, in alignment with your highest values and principles, in a way that makes a greater difference to yourself, your family and your world.
Courage Lesson #3:
We Need to Let Go of Past Conditioning and Tribal Patterns that Limit Us
- What really holds you back from living and creating the life you deserve?
- What beliefs, patterns and limitations hold back the true creative essence of your soul?
- Who would you be without the limiting perceptions of your past?
Set in the mid 1800’s The Greatest Showman shows a world in which status differences between the rich and the poor, haves and the have not’s, the beautiful and the oddities has never been more complex and divisive.
While as a society we have moved in leaps and bounds in healing some of this segregation, the reality remains that for many of us we continue to hold onto the residual patterns of scarcity, insufficiency, not being good or worthy enough, or having to conform in society from our ancestors and our past.
Finding COURAGE to live our own lives and define a destiny that tells us that we are free, we are empowered and we are capable of realising our dreams and desires can therefore often be challenging.
It’s not surprising that in many of my one-on-one coaching, healing and guidance sessions with clients that they find themselves coming up against blocks from the past, that are holding them back from being all they can be in this lifetime.
Creating our best lives now, therefore call on us all to not only reach for the guidance of our own higher-selves, but to also find courage to release and free ourselves from the conditioning and patterns of our past (ancestral, DNA, past-life, this life) that will help set us free into the lives we were truly born to live.
Courage Lesson #4:
What if ‘We Rewrite the Stars’?
There’s a great segment within The Greatest Showman where Zac Efron, who plays the role of thtries to theatrical writer Phillip Carlyle, tries to convince trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (played by Zendaya) that it’s ok for her to leave her past behind, and that together they can literally “Rewrite the Stars”.
It’s a really touching and well-choreographed scene that sees literally both of them floating through the air on a trapeze rope, in an endless of dance of separation, then connection and finally separation.
But Zac’s calling to Zendaya is not wasted on us all … for literally in each moment of our lives we are being given the opportunity to “rewrite our own stars”. While each of us are actors in our own life movie, through free will, decision and choice we have the incredible power to reshape and redirect our own lives.
Q. So, what is it that keeps us from “rewriting our own stars” of “recreating our life stories the way we want them to be”?
A. Fear. Limiting beliefs. Not believing its possible. Not feeling we’re worthy of more. Not accepting our own true power and presence. Are just a few of the answers that come to mind.
However, COURAGE call on us to be more. Calls on us to take the pen of life in our hands and rewrite the scripts of our lives for those parts where we feel we are stuck, a victim, powerless, helpless, or defeated.
- Can you imagine an Oprah Winfrey who did not choose to rewrite her stars as a child?
- Can you imagine a Barack Obama who did not consider rewriting what might be possible for a coloured man in America?
- Can you imagine a Nelson Mandela who did not choose to rewrite his stars on being released after 27 years in prison?
Courage Lesson #5:
Focus on Making a Difference – Not on Acceptance
- Ever noticed that some of the world’s greatest leaders were once considered heretics?
Often in life we can fall into the trap of limiting our results and outcomes by seeking to be accepted by others, rather than truly reaching for what we know in our heart’s and soul’s is possible.
In Australia we even have a term for this, ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’. The social paradigm where once somebody becomes successful and begins to ‘stand out from the crowd’ there is the conscious and unconscious desire of those around to ‘cut them down’ and literally bring them down to size.
- So, how then as visionary creators and leaders can we choose to stand in our own light?
- How can we learn to embrace and embody our gifts, talents and abilities in ways that bring joy, happiness and fulfilment to many?
P.T. Barnum was well known for his ability to promote and market himself and his shows with BOLDNESS and AUDACITY, two traits that fundamental to the life of the COURAGEOUS LEADER.
Why Embracing Courage in Uncertainty Matters
I believe that Barnum understood that the flowers in the field never try to compare themselves, or limit their growth based on the flowers around them. Instead they simply shine bright and reach to fulfill their innate natural potential. If that means they have the capacity to become a 5ft sunflower in a field of smaller daisies, then so be it. Every flower has a divine potential and purpose to fulfill, a natural path to the complete expression of their authentic presence.
Leaders know that there is always risk involved in ‘stepping into the centre of the ring’, especially when one is at the head of the pack expanding their presence in areas that have not been tackled before.
COURAGE therefore calls on us to listen to the voice of our own soul. To live to our highest potential and not be put-down, shut-down or limited by the voices of the masses who do not understand the power of our own authentic heart. The moment therefore we change our focus to making a difference (and away from our need to be loved and accepted) magic happens. We become alive in the spirited warrior who knows that their time on Earth is limited and that COURAGE is the doorway to manifesting the change that they came here to create.
Les Price is a transformational life and business coach, author, speaker, intuitive and healer. If you feel you have been holding onto limiting patterns, emotions, feeling and blockages from the past that no longer serve you, and are looking for a safe environment to allow greater freedom and liberation into your life – contact our office to organise a consultation with Les.