The Potential Principle: Why Don’t We Implement? [Part two in a series]

A male businessman looks for the next promising and lucrative adventure.

By Howard Partridge

In the first article of this series (March 2020 issue of Cleanfax), I shared the main reason people don’t reach their biggest dreams and goals in life and business: failure to implement (F.T.I). The question now is why don’t we implement—even when we know what to do and how to do it. Why do we not take the steps we know are going to help us reach our goals? Why do we self-sabotage? Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping for different results? Why do we lack belief in our own success?

I’ve spent the past 25 years thinking about these questions and the past two decades observing the reasons for F.T.I. while coaching business owners, leaders, and individuals to success. We can have all the productivity books and apps in the world, but they will not help us unless we understand why we don’t implement.

Zig Ziglar said, “The secret ingredient of success is desire, and desire comes from a vision.” If desire is the secret ingredient and the result of a vision, why don’t more people have a compelling vision for their life? And if they have a vision, why don’t they work harder to make that vision a reality?

I think everyone understands that if we want to reach our biggest dreams and goals, we have to perform at a higher level. I call that phenomenal performance. Extraordinary performance leads to bigger and better results. We all know that, but why don’t we perform at the highest level possible?

Many would suggest that the problem is a lack of time, focus, discipline, or motivation. We all have the same amount of time, but some people manage to use their time more wisely than others. The question is why? Anyone who wants to accomplish more certainly can see the value in being more focused, but why do we lack focus? A common lament is, “I need to be more disciplined,” but why do we lack discipline? Motivation is important too, but why do we lack motivation? These are merely symptoms of a bigger underlying problem.


People tend to only make extraordinary change in their life and business out of desperation or inspiration. Desperation occurs when we are faced with a looming situation that will cause a great deal of pain, such as paying an important bill, a health scare, or a relationship on the line. In the desperation scenario, the pain must be great enough to cause us to change. Otherwise, many people avoid change because they feel that change will be more painful or uncomfortable than their current situation.

Humans can be like the farmer’s hound dog: The farmer was sitting on the porch in his rocking chair, his hound dog lying next to him. The mailman approached to deliver the mail and noticed that the hound was moaning in pain and asked, “What’s the matter with your dog, mister?”

“I think he’s lying on a nail,” responded the farmer.

“Well, why doesn’t he get up?” The mailman wondered out loud.

“I guess it doesn’t hurt bad enough,” the farmer replied.

Desperation may motivate us for a bit, but it wears off as soon as we get comfortable again. Then we are vulnerable to slip back into old habits, and the cycle continues. Can you relate to that in any areas of your life or business? The bigger problem is that we tend to make poor decisions when we are led by desperation. These decisions may solve our immediate problem but cause bigger problems down the road.

Desperation is one form of “external” motivation—a negative situation motivates one to take massive action. But external motivation can come from a positive source as well. For example, you’re motivated to get a lot of things done so you can go on vacation, or you’re motivated to make a sale to get a bonus.


External motivation, whether positive or negative, isn’t enough for long-term, sustained implementation. What we really need is internal motivation, or inspiration. Inspiration happens when a fire is ignited inside of us. Inspiration is created by a vision so powerful and meaningful that it cannot be easily extinguished.

Inspiration happens when the lights finally go on; it creates a desire so compelling that we put our entire mind, will, and emotion into making the vision a reality. I was visiting a friend once and he was telling me about his “checkered” past. He had been in jail for about a year, and somehow, seemingly out of the blue, his internal lights went on. He said he knew he would be okay even if he didn’t get out of jail right away.

When the lights of inspiration come on, there is no stopping you. But even as powerful as inspiration is, humans need something even more. Long-term, sustainable implementation comes down to one thing: belief.


People don’t do the things they really need to do to get what they really want because, deep down, they don’t believe the vision will come true and figure why bother pursuing it? If we are honest with ourselves, many of us don’t truly believe the prize will be worth the fight.

While it’s true that a lack of focus, being overwhelmed, poor habits, or a lack of organization and training come into play, these are all just symptoms of a lack of belief. If you don’t believe there will be a big payoff, internally or externally, you won’t wake up inspired to do the hard work required to reach your biggest dreams and goals. You won’t sustain implementation over a long period of time without belief.

I started my cleaning business out of the trunk of my car 35 years ago. Over 13 long years, I became a slave to my business, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was a demanding boss, and the handful of employees I had were under a lot of pressure and worked ridiculous hours. Plus, my business was in major debt.

So, how did I transform that failing business into a multi-million-dollar turnkey business? By doing things differently. I learned and implemented better financial systems. I learned and implemented better leadership practices. I learned and implemented systems in all areas of my business. As a result, I enjoy the proceeds of a profitable and growing business without having to work in it myself. It’s truly a blessing.

For the past two decades, I’ve been helping other small business owners and leaders reach their biggest goals, and my most successful students are those who simply learn the systems and implement them. As for myself, the result of implementing the proven principles helped me become a best-selling author and an international business coach, which has helped me help many others. I never could have imagined the lives that are being transformed through the work we do.

When Zig Ziglar was with us in person, he opened many of his speeches with the following question: “How many of you believe that there are things you can do in the next two weeks that would make your personal life or business life worse?”

That always got the audience’s attention. He would then say, “Then it stands to reason that there are things you can do to make your personal life or business life better, and the choice is yours.”

Key takeaways

Over years, I have seen thousands of examples of how F.T.I. has kept people from reaching their full potential. The solution is usually a simple one, but many individuals seem hopelessly tied to poor habits. And I would venture to say that most people have at least one area in their lives or careers where they struggle the most. What is your top area of struggle?

Performance is key. Whether that means healthy eating and exercising, loving someone better, or reaching your sales goals, the better we perform, the better outcome we will have. But in order to achieve the performance needed to reach our goals, we have to be able to see and believe the possibilities.

Is it possible to be successful in all areas of life? Is it possible to be healthy, wealthy, and wise in today’s fast-paced world? Is it possible to win in every area of business? The answer is a resounding “yes”! I’ve seen thousands of examples, and I’ve had an abundance of experiences in both failure and success myself.

Discovering your hidden belief systems and living out the truth will set you free. Once the lights go on and you believe that you can reach your biggest dreams and goals in life, you’ll be inspired to perform at the level required to reach them.

Howard Partridge started his cleaning business from the trunk of his car 35 years ago and built it up to over $3 million per year. For two decades, Partridge has coached cleaning and restoration companies, teaching them to have phenomenal success. He is the exclusive small business coach for Ziglar Inc., the world’s first Ziglar Legacy Trainer, the founding member of the John Maxwell Coaching Team, a DISC Certified Trainer, a ONE THING Certified Trainer. a Certified StoryBrand Guide, and No. 1 bestselling author of eight books including his latest: F.T.I. (Failure To Implement).

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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