You can lead a horse to water, but …
… you can’t make him drink.
You can advertise your product but you can’t force people to buy it. You can provide all of the tools to take up jogging, but you still have to put on the shoes. You can buy all of the books on a subject, but you have to open them and study to learn what’s in them.
I can sit next to him, open the books, ask questions and practice, but the student still has to do the learning at some point.
If there’s just one phrase I still have with me from my international MBA program at the Rotterdam School of Management, it’s from Professor Giorgio Inzerilli who taught us that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
In other words, you can do as much as you are in control of, but at some point, you will have to let it go. Sure, you could put salt in the horse’s water, but it’s still up to the horse to decide to drink. You can try to influence and help, coerce and bribe, even swindle and cheat, but people are going to do what they’re going to do.
More on equestrian business psychology:
- You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink … unless you know how! I’ll share the secret with you. When you think of great leaders you probably think of stoic figures such as Winston Churchill, General George C. Patton and Abraham Lincoln. But the truth is that they were rarely on the battlefield or in the trenches leading anyone. They were invisible to the very people they were leading, but here’s my point ‘ they were still leading.
- Organisational change and cultural realities: Franco-American Contrasts: Current strategies and approaches to introduce organizational change are analyzed as cultural productions which reflect the mentalities and the histories of particular societies. The North American approach, known as “Organizational Development”, is compared and contrasted to alternative approaches that have
emerged in Latin countries such as France. The design of effective strategies for organizational change requires a much deeper
appreciation and understanding of cultural reality and societal context of organizations than currently demonstrated in the organizational change literature.
- The meaning and origin of the expression: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. People, like horses, will only do what they have a mind to do.