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#39 The Toothpaste Man or the Water Faucet Man

A scene from the epic film “The Last Emperor” has remained with me. I haven’t seen the movie in over 20 years, but the sadness of the true story is haunting.

China’s last Emperor, Puyi, has been exiled from his home, The Forbidden City, because of the Communist Revolution. Now removed from the home he was never allowed to leave; he is to stand trial as a war criminal.

During his “questioning,” his interrogator relays his experience extracting information from prisoners. He claims there are two kinds of people who react to questioning. The toothpaste man and the water faucet man.

The toothpaste man must be squeezed for every bit of information. Only when squeezed will he provide intelligence. When the squeezing stops, the talking stops.

The other kind of man is the water faucet man. The water faucet man needs only be twisted once, and the information will flow like water. The water faucet man never needs turning again.

I’ve noticed this concept applies outside the “information extraction” arena.

Some people need constant motivation. They are toothpaste people, and must be driven each day to do what they need to do. Exercise? They must be constantly encouraged to do their pushups. Healthy food choices? They need continuous support to stay on track.

Other people need only a single boost to elevate their motivation. Once convinced to change behavior, they continue moving forward on their own power. They are rarely deterred.

The interrogator in The Last Emperor mentions his observations before any questioning of the protagonist begins. He is hoping to motivate the Emperor to talk openly before he must employ some of his more interesting tactics. He has established a goal. His subjects have an end game in mind – to stop the tactics used during questioning. They are being forced against their will to give up information they must keep secret. The Emperor, however, has no secrets. He discusses his entire life in the Forbidden City, thus the origin of his autobiography.

What goal sets your motivation into action? Does your goal inspire you each day or do you need constant encouragement to keep on course? For water faucet people, simply stating the goal is enough to spark their inner drill sergeant into a fit of red-faced screaming. Photos on the vision board remind them of the direction they’re headed and the steps needed to get there. The faucet has been turned, and the motivation flows.

Toothpaste people need constant encouragement. They keep the vision board full of photos, and it is mounted on the fridge so they see it several times a day. They need a partner or mentor to keep them on track.

Even the king of motivation himself, David Goggins, who posts videos every day to motivate others to seek their own greatness, admits that he yells at his shoes every single day so he will put them on and begin his daily run.

There is nothing wrong with being a toothpaste person or a water faucet person. There nothing wrong with deciding every day that you need encouragement and motivation to achieve your goals and acquire your trophy. There is even nothing wrong with changing course throughout the journey because new methods have been learned or new skills have been acquired along the path.

But there is something wrong with not having a goal. Having no direction, no plan, no ambition, no end game. And the aim doesn’t need to always be about health and fitness. It could be going back to school to get that degree. Changing careers. Learning an instrument. Beginning meditation or yoga. Reading a book each week. Going to bed earlier each night to get more sleep. Working on a new project to get that promotion at work. Rebuilding an old car. Starting woodworking. The options are endless.

Always seek improvement. Always desire more from yourself. Always push toward a goal. Always be better.

With the goal firmly established, the methods of accomplishing them determined, success is dependent on motivation. Are you a toothpaste person or a water faucet person? If you know, use that information to set the pieces of your life in motion. Use your motivation type to move closer to your desires.


Joe “Weeg” Weigant is an empowerment coach who specializes in combining different bodywork and energy work modalities (Reiki, Acupressure, Tuning Forks, Massage, Reflexology, Sound/Vibration Therapy) to release trauma, reset the autonomic nervous system, and balance the energy systems of the body. This begins the healing process in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. Weeg sells herbal products by Nature’s Sunshine and Pure Herbs Ltd. and is a Representative for Juice Plus. Weeg teaches Karate and Tai Chi, Reiki Certification, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.

Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.

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