You can lead a horse to water… 


“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” I’ve heard this idiom my whole life and have repeated it countless times over the years, but only recently has this truism come to life in a powerful way.

Lately, I’ve been dealing with a situation involving a good friend.  And as hard as I’ve tried to persuade him to do things differently to achieve a different result, he seems cemented in a negative way of thinking.  And Those thought processes just happen to be counterproductive to the life he is attempting to achieve.

It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.  While I’m not yet ready to label my friend a complete lunatic, I would go so far as to say he could use some wise counsel from people who have experience in changing destructive mindsets.  I just happen to be one of those counselors.  But he’s not willing to hear my wisdom.

There’s a difference between listening and hearing, and my friend respects me enough to listen to me but not actually hear what I’m saying.  Hearing compels a person to meditate on what was heard, chew on it, and then apply those words of wisdom to the situation at hand.  Listening is more passive, and can be done while texting, painting fingernails, or cooking dinner… It doesn’t require the same amount of focus & action that hearing does.

But getting back to the horse… It dawned on me today that the hypothetical  horse being led to the water could’ve possibly been severely dehydrated.  This particular horse  could’ve been dying and needed to drink very badly… But because of faulty belief systems, the horse refused to drink.  Perhaps the horse had been drinking from one specific watering hole its entire life and simply refused to drink from anywhere else… Or maybe this horse believed that nobody has the right to lead him anywhere and doesn’t drink the water to spite its leader.  Whatever the reason, one thing is obviously clear: the horse is going to die if he does not drink the water.  And all of the horse’s friends see he is dying, except for the horse himself.   What a dilemma.

It saddens me to have to sit on the sideline and merely watch my good friend slowly wither and “die”  because he refused to try something different.  My words of wisdom to him, and even the example of positive change I’ve shown him, have fallen on blind eyes and deaf ears.

Best friend: Once a position of pride and influence, has now become a place of hurt and humiliation.   I’ve been relegated to the back row of my friend’s “life show,” now only a spectator, embarrassingly witnessing my friend’s painful demise.

Drink the water, folks. Think outside the box.  Don’t pretend to know everything. Surround yourself with smart people… And don’t just listen to, but also hear them once in awhile.  They just might want to save your life. The hard part can sometimes be letting them.  But let them.  They aren’t out to get you… they merely love you.


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