It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.

What's the meaning of this quote?

Quote Meaning: The message behind this quote is rooted in the art of influence and leadership. It suggests that instead of imposing our own ideas directly on others, it is wiser to persuade them subtly, making them believe that the decision or action was their own. By doing so, we tap into the power of autonomy and ownership, allowing individuals to feel more motivated and engaged in what they are doing. This approach recognizes the importance of preserving a person's sense of agency and dignity while guiding them toward a particular outcome.

In practice, this message encourages leaders to be skillful communicators and influencers. It implies that effective leaders understand the psychology of persuasion and are capable of framing ideas and suggestions in a way that resonates with others. By presenting information in a compelling manner and appealing to individuals' values, desires, and goals, leaders can inspire others to willingly embrace new perspectives and take ownership of their decisions. This approach fosters collaboration, engagement, and a sense of empowerment, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes for both individuals and the collective group.

Free Resource: A step-by-step blueprint to realize your dreams

Who said the quote?

The quote "It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea." was said by Nelson Mandela (Bio / Quotes). Nelson Mandela was a revolutionary and iconic figure who dedicated his life to the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Applying the quote to your life

Unlock Mandela's wisdom and apply it to your life by getting the in-depth Nelson Mandela Workbook & Study Guide, complete with Mandela's top quotes, insightful commentary, reflective questions, and practical uses for everyday life. 👇

Is there a historical example that illustrates the message of the quote?

During the early 20th century, Edward Bernays, often dubbed the "father of public relations," employed this strategy with remarkable success. Bernays was a pioneer in shaping public opinion and influencing behavior through strategic communication. One of his most famous campaigns involved persuading women to start smoking cigarettes, a feat achieved by associating smoking with women's liberation.

In the 1920s, smoking among women was heavily stigmatized. It was considered inappropriate and unfeminine for women to smoke in public. However, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to expand the market for its cigarettes among women. Bernays realized that to overcome societal norms, he needed to change the way people perceived smoking.

Bernays orchestrated a brilliant publicity stunt by collaborating with a group of debutantes during the Easter Sunday Parade in New York City in 1929. He arranged for these young women to march in the parade, each holding a cigarette, which he called "torches of freedom." Bernays strategically positioned photographers to capture the moment, ensuring maximum media coverage.

The event garnered widespread attention, and newspapers across the country published photos of the debutantes proudly smoking in public. Bernays framed smoking as an act of defiance against male-dominated society, portraying cigarettes as symbols of independence and empowerment for women. By aligning smoking with the women's rights movement, he effectively changed public perception.

Bernays' campaign successfully persuaded women to take up smoking by making them believe it was their own idea. He tapped into their desire for autonomy and freedom, subtly guiding their behavior while maintaining the illusion of choice. This historical example demonstrates the power of persuasion and the effectiveness of influencing people by making them think they are acting on their own accord.

How can the quote be applied in a real-life scenario?

In contemporary society, the quote holds significant relevance, especially in marketing, sales, and interpersonal relationships. Whether you're trying to sell a product, pitch an idea, or negotiate with others, understanding the psychology of persuasion is invaluable.

Free Resource: Over 1000 smart goal ideas to inspire your life

Imagine you're a salesperson tasked with convincing a potential client to sign a deal. Instead of bombarding them with reasons why your product or service is superior, take a more subtle approach. Begin by asking open-ended questions to uncover their needs and desires. Then, craft your pitch in a way that aligns with their priorities and values.

For instance, if the client values efficiency and cost-effectiveness, emphasize how your solution can streamline their operations and save them money in the long run. By framing your proposal in a way that resonates with their objectives, you're more likely to win them over.

Similarly, in personal relationships, the principle of making others feel like it was their idea can be instrumental in resolving conflicts and fostering cooperation. Instead of imposing your viewpoint, try guiding the conversation in a direction that allows the other person to arrive at the desired conclusion independently.

For example, if you're trying to persuade a friend to join you on a particular vacation, instead of insisting on your destination choice, highlight the aspects that appeal to their interests. Frame it as an opportunity for them to explore new experiences and create lasting memories. By allowing them to feel a sense of ownership over the decision, they're more likely to enthusiastically embrace the idea.

In essence, the quote underscores the importance of empathy, understanding, and strategic communication in influencing others. By respectfully guiding people towards a desired outcome while preserving their sense of autonomy, you can achieve greater success in various aspects of life.

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

Actualize Your Potential
Get my simplified process for realizing dreams (The exact process that enabled me to achieve 100 life goals in 10 years)
Access my Start With WHY workbook for free, designed to guide you toward your purpose and the person you are meant to become
Align With Your Why
Elevate In Your Inbox
Get actionable insights, best practices, and wisdom you can apply — No hype, No fluff. Just practical ideas that might change your life.

Read The Art of Fully Living

There's no going back-once you embark on the journey you're meant to live, it's impossible to settle for anything less than your dreams.

Click here to learn more

Set Better Goals

Learn a better and smarter approach to setting and achieving goals. It's not just about what you want to achieve, but who you must become in the process.

Click here to learn more
Take The Free Test
Discover your areas for growth in just 5 minutes. Take the FREE self-evaluation test and pinpoint where to focus your efforts

Uplevel Your Game

Explore The Roadmaps

Access a self-paced online roadmap that turns big goals into realities, complete with daily study guides, actionable steps, and proven practices from the world's best minds
Reclaim your freedom, escape 9-5, and live the life you were meant to live — A self-paced roadmap with daily study guides, actionable steps, and proven practices
Join The Accelerator
Join a 10-week, personalized immersion that will accelerate your goal-attainment, elevate you to your next level, and turn your big dreams into reality.
Learn More
Thanks for reading. It makes a difference. A portion of all proceeds from our endeavors supports entrepreneurs in the developing world. View Impact...