"Even when opportunity knocks a person still has to get up off his/her seat and open the door."
The first time I heard the expression "you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink" was in 1991 from my former boss Bob Miller. He was answering an employee question in an open forum, "Why aren't people making use of the training/development opportunities and some excellent ideas that were offered to them?"
This phenomenon isn't limited to the corporate world. Dennis Waitley talks about one tribe of people in his book, 'Psychology of Winning'. Premature death amongst people in that tribe was increasing, and research had proven that it was due to a new type of insect that had developed in that area. These tribespeople were offered new homes in a different area, but decided to stay at the same place anyway ... and continued to face premature deaths.
Another example: a businessman took his seven employees out for a walk in a mall for three successive days. Along the way, on all three walks, they found some garbage on the floor in different areas of the mall. Two of them did not even notice it, one complained that it should not be there in the first place, another started talking about the possible root cause, fifth one complained about the garbage cleaning service, and sixth one started to clean it up. The seventh one, while helping the sixth guy in cleaning looked at the businessman and said, "Here is our opportunity. It seems that the current vendor of cleaning services is not doing the job. We can offer better cleaning service to the mall."
Yes indeed, a very simple story ... but this was a real good test by that businessman.
Here is an incidence just from this morning that goes even further. A guy I was talking to told me about the mentoring program that his department had started. He was assigned a mentor from another group. This guy told me that he is learning new things from the mentor, plans to establish relationships in mentor's ecosystem and additionally he took this opportunity to show his mentor different products and services that his department was offering. This horse (guy) is not only drinking water (learning new skills from his mentor) but also offering his water (sales of his products/services) to other horses (creating potential customers). That is: going to do one thing (drink water) and coming back with three(water, juice and wine)
In real life, opportunity comes in many forms: offered by friends, well wishers, superiors and good organizations. But that is as far as they can go. In final analysis, it is you who are ultimately responsible for making use of the opportunity.