The Power of Implementation
(and the Powerdrain of not)


Melhim Restum, PhD

Webster states that to implement is to carry into effect; to fulfill; to accomplish. In psychology and social work we spend our careers trying to help our clients implement changes in their lives. Our greatest satisfaction comes when they get “unstuck” and realize their potential as people. Our greatest frustration comes when they resist change and fail to take the steps necessary to grow and succeed. Our study of clinicians is that when it comes to the business side of their profession, they are too often like their resistant patients. Stuck in professional models and mindsets that limit their growth. The cost is not only lost income, although that can be a source of great pain in and of itself.

For example, if you fail to follow-up on just one good business related idea each year and that idea would yield a 5% annual increase in your income, how much do you stand to lose? Starting with a $30,000.00 income you will lose $1500.00 in the following year. Four years later your income would have been $38,288.00. By year eight you could have been earning $44,323.00, and by year ten $48,867.00. Total loss to you? $96,201.00. Let’s look at a $100,000.00 starting income.

Again assuming a 5% increase annually by implementing one good idea each year it would grow to $127,628.00 by the fifth year and $162,889.00 by year ten. Total loss for the ten years? $360,675.00!

So why don’t clinicians grow their businesses to optimal levels? Our research offers a number of reasons. Webster suggests one in another definition of the word implement: to provide with the means for carrying into effect or fulfilling. Most professionals lack “the means”. They are never taught how to grow their businesses. And when they do learn a method, like “niche marketing”, for instance, they often don’t follow through on it or they do so in a haphazard way.

If follow through or implementation is the key to business success then it is a slippery key that too often falls from your hand moments after it is placed there. How else to explain the startling finding that only 5% of all business people who attend weekend seminars follow through on the ideas they have learned? Maybe you can relate to this through the following example. Can you remember the enthusiasm you felt at a conference, the firm plan you made to start using the approach or skill you learned only to lose sight of it when you returned home to a ton of mail, messages and family matters? Is the book you purchased at the conference still sitting on your bookshelf, at most partially read?

There are many other reasons why people don’t follow through on implementing good ideas, especially when it comes to business. While not having the time is the most commonly given explanation, concentrating on the wrong activities (often times the minutia of a practice) is a big cause of time drain.

But fear may be the most central reason for failure to follow through. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of spending money, fear of inadequacy, even fear of losing control if one turns to others for help. In contrast, what’s the cost of not implementing? Lost referrals and revenue, diminished self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness and being marginalized as a business entity.

In a field where many professionals are reporting a declining number of clients (see for an ongoing study), the importance of working on one’s business versus simply working at one’s business is more critical than ever. Research and planning are essential to business growth yet worthless without follow through or implementation. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t successful at following through on our own. Ongoing relationships with effective supervisors or mentors and the relevant education, encouragement and accountability they offer is usually a necessary yet commonly missing factor in most business practices.