“You can take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.”
~Jeanette Rankin

We know how others should act. We know what they need to do. We know, often without a shadow of doubt, the best plans for their future and personal development. The funny thing is though, it’s not up to us.

This is a managerial (and parenting, and relationship) challenge that I see all the time – in my own life and in the lives of many of my clients. We are convinced that we know the best way for someone on our team to excel, to grow, to develop, and to shine. Like the proverbial horse, we lead them to the water and stand there yelling, “Drink. Drink.” We often wonder why nothing happens.

All effective, lasting self-development and betterment is self-propelled. Your direct report (or child, or significant other) may parrot back to you what he or she thinks you want to hear; they may even repeat back your exact words, phrases, and justifications for the “necessary” changes. However, if the desire for something different is not an internal push for a new way, the change is likely to be short and ineffective.

Many times I tell clients, “You can’t motivate someone. Motivation is an internal job.” Our jobs as managers, parents, and people who care, is to help those around us find their own internal inspiration and motivators – and to step back from our plans and let our others go as far as they will go. It may not be far enough for us, but then either we may need to change our expectations…or our staffing. In the long run that’s better than going blue in the face yelling, “Drink!”

Review your expectations for others – if they are valid and clear, go for it. If you are asking too much from someone, revise either the expectations, or yourself.

Where are you trying to take someone to your desired end goal for them…rather than their own? How can you support them, let them go their way, and take it from there?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you really want to find motivation, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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