My way or the highway
My way or the highway is a predominantly American idiom that dates back to the 1970s. It suggests an ultimatum like "take it or leave it", which indicates that the listener(s) (who are typically not in a position to challenge the options, e.g. employees or those lacking money) must totally accept the speaker's decision or suffer negative consequences such as being fired, asked to leave, or receive nothing. It may sometimes be seen with other pronouns, for example, her way or the highway.
Meles Zenawi, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, was described by Donald Yamamoto, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, as a man thirsty for power who will cling on to power till his last breath. His ideas were based on "it's my way or the highway" best described by David Shinn, former Ambassador to Ethiopia. Sources close to him and his family say he had a bad temper and liked to talk by telephone with leaders even in the middle of the night.
Lawrence Biondi was a controversial figure over the span of his presidency at St. Louis University. When asked about his approach to leadership for accomplishing his bold vision, Biondi said he is a "my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy."
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- Google ngrams
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