What if you were empowered to have more free time and energy, get important things done quickly and more efficiently, and eliminate the barriers to success? In his new book, The Secret Blueprint to More_____* (fill in the blank), author and motivational speaker Chris M. Sprague reveals that you already possess the tools to move mountains, pursue your dreams, and positively impact the lives of others. It all gets down to understanding how, exactly, you’re uniquely wired.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Let’s start with an overview of the academic and professional journey that got you to where you are today.
A: My journey (like many others) has been full of twists and turns. Going beyond the academic, I started out with dreams of being a professional bowler with a back-up plan of working in radio, television and film. I began both acting and bowing at the age of 5 and by the time I was 16, I had already been accepted to the #1 bowling college in the nation which also happened to have a great mass communications program. I ultimately decided not to attend college right out of high school to continue my disc jockey/entertaining career. Over the next few years, I moved around from job to job trying to make ends meet and eventually made my way into a corporate job with an Information Technology company. In total, I took a 15-year detour from my passion and purpose of inspiring and empowering people’s lives. At the end of my corporate career, I went through two layoffs in two years. I then spent 12 months of trying unsuccessfully to get back into the workforce.
That’s when I made the commitment to start my own business. A few months before I started my business, I had joined John C. Maxwell as a Founding Partner in his coaching, teaching and public speaking certification program. At first, I attempted to use the training as a way to show prospective employers that I was pursuing personal growth and not just sitting around all day waiting for things to happen. However, it didn’t help. What I have figured out now is that going back to Corporate America was never what I was meant to do and that God had bigger plans for me. Over the course of the past 2 ½ years, I have begun to bring together all of my life experiences (the best teacher) and realize that many people out there are in situations similar to what I’ve been through and they can benefit from my mistakes. The biggest part of my journey that I feel can help people is the discovery of how people are wired. I say this because, discovering how I am wired – and discovering that everyone can and should understand their own wiring – was the seminal moment in my life and business that changed everything.
Q: Who were some of the people that inspired you when you were growing up and what lessons did they impart which became incorporated in your personal blueprint for success?
A: This is a tough one. Before the age of 18, I don’t remember too many people (other than Jesus) inspiring me. The things I incorporated from Him into my life were, being a man of my word, always trying to help others and standing up for what I believed in even if the world doesn’t think I’m right. When I think of someone inspiring, I think of someone that I say, “I want to be like” or, “This person is a great example”. I believe part of my challenge growing up was that I never let anyone inspire me. As I moved into adulthood, the first real inspiration I can remember was Anthony Robbins. Granted, this inspiration was also coupled with some skepticism (let’s face it, I only knew him through his late night infomercials). However, I felt that if his story was true and he did what he said he did, then there was hope for me! The biggest lesson I learned from Tony is that we all have a great power within us and we just need to understand how to harness and unleash it. If I (and the people around me) would have understood how I was wired earlier on in my life, I believe I would have had more inspiring people around me and I would have been more open to inspiration.
Q: Who do you most admire today for the way they in which live their lives, run their businesses, and/or take risks to push the envelope?
A: It would be a three-way tie among Jesus, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. Each of these people were/are calculated risk takers and quick decision makers. The best thing to do if you’re going to fail is fail quickly and then move on to the next challenge. I can also identify with the way each of them is wired. Jesus was wired to be a servant leader (and so am I). Steve Jobs was wired to push the envelope (and so am I). He was also wired to know when people needed a push to get things done (and so am I). Richard Branson is wired to be the ultimate risk-taker (and so am I. However, my risk-taking side is still being un-pasted.) This concept of removing the paste covering your wiring is something for another article.
Q: When did you first know that becoming a published author was a goal you wanted to pursue?
A: Until 2012, I didn’t think I was wired to be an author. However, once I uncovered a way to unleash my creativity in written form, I realized that I was always wired to write. However, my wiring had been pasted over (covered-up) by negativity though out my childhood/school years.
Q: Tell us about the inspiration behind your book.
A: There were two inspirations behind The Secret Blueprint to More (_____*). The first was that I have always wanted to help people. Since people learn in different ways, a book was a great way to reach people who love to read vs. people who love to learn by watching. The second what that I knew I needed my own platform as a public speaker and that I needed to begin to set myself apart as an expert.
Q: How did you go about defining your target audience, developing chapter content, and organizing the requisite research?
A: Given that this book was meant to be applicable to everyone, I never really did nail down a specific target audience. This is also an extension of how I am wired. I (like many other people) don’t want to limit the people who this book will help. I also feel that if I completely ‘niche’ a book, it will limit the audience the book will appeal to. The good news is that, I am also wired to understand that now that the general book is written, niching it down is that next logical step. As for developing chapter content, I just sat down and started writing. I say this not to diminish the efforts of other authors who spend months and years writing their books. I only say this to illustrate that, once you understand how you’re wired and match what you’re doing to your wiring, your roadblocks melt away. As for the requisite research, all of the material from the book came from personal experiences. So, it was just a matter of organizing my previous experiences into something readable. I’ve also always been a people watcher and an investigator. This led me to accumulate thousands upon thousands of hours of anecdotal research and findings.
Q: There’s certainly no shortage of books on today’s market about personal growth and empowerment. What do you feel distinguishes your own approach?
A: My current book is a collection of things I’ve used personally to get ‘more’. These are not theories or ‘Gee I hope this will work’ types of things. These are concrete steps that will produce results. I have also kept these general and broad enough so that at least one thing in the book should match the way most people are wired.
Q: I love your fill-in-the-blank title! How did you come up with it?
A: Thanks! It was based on a number of focus groups. I had a few different titles. All of my original titles were based around changing one’s mindset. The people in the focus groups liked the original titles. However, their feedback was that the general public wouldn’t be looking for things on shifting mindset. They felt the general public would be looking for something more concrete. Then, after Charlie McDermott wrote the forward for my book, the idea of The Secret Blueprint hit me. Finally, I added in the More (____) when I realized that the topic in the book would lead people to more free time, more success, more happiness and a whole bunch of other ‘mores’. Had I started off by niching down to one particular segment, it would have gone against my wiring and there would have been mental roadblocks stopping me from succeeding. In fact, this is exactly what happened when I first started my business and everyone kept telling me I needed to niche to a particular group before I created my content.
Q: So what’s your own word to fill in that blank?
A: Peace. Using the tips I laid out in the book, I have been able to reduce stress, frustration and have more time for doing the things I love. To me, that brings me peace. This is also an extension of how I am wired. I am wired to look at things in detail, be able to explain them in detail and then bring them up to a very high-level and go from the 1-foot view to the 100,000-foot view. The challenge for me (and people like me) is to not make things so board that they go from appealing to everyone to appealing to no one.
Q: Just as teachers often learn new things from their students, authors are often provided new insights about themselves in the course of penning a book. Was this the case with you as well?
A: Yes! For me, it was the fact I could be an author. I spent many years believing I didn’t have that ability. Every time I tried to write a book, I would write a few paragraphs and then say, “Ok, I’ve told them everything. No need to write anymore.” What I didn’t realize until last year was that, if I just pretended to be speaking rather than writing and let the words come out of my fingers rather than my mouth, I had a lot to say! Before this book, every time I started to write, I merely thought about writing. Now, when I start to write, I imagine myself doing an interview or a stage performance and the words just flow.
Q: So many people in today’s society – but especially women – feel as if they have to “have it all” in order to say they have successful lives. When they fall short of that objective, they immediately label themselves as failures. What’s your response to this?
A: While we all fail sometimes, no person is a failure. Every time you have a challenge and things don’t go as planned, you should use it as a learning experience. If your challenges come early in your career or life, be thankful and remember – it’s much better to make your mistakes when nobody’s watching. Each time you have a challenge or fail at something, it’s preparing you for future successes. Much of how people react to failure either has to do with how they are wired or the paste they have let the world use to cover their wiring. This is especially true for people whose wiring has been pasted over with the belief that they must ‘have it all’ to be a success. This is where it gets interesting. There are those who are wired to believe they must ‘have it all’ to be a success. Those are those who make it look easy when they try to ‘have it all’. For those people who struggle to ‘have it all’, most likely they’re doing things against how they are wired. They have also bought into what the world says they need to do to be successful. If they just went back and found out how they were wired, they would be able to have what they truly want and deserve.
Q: What are three things that people can do to adjust their mindsets and start improving themselves from the inside out?
A: The overarching thing is to uncover how you are wired. This involves going back, way back to a time before the world began to paste over your wiring, cover it up and change you from who you were meant to be to who you are today. To do that, here are three things people can do today to start moving down the path to uncovering your wiring.
1) Realize that it all starts with attitude. Attitude is the only thing you have complete control over every day. Establishing an attitude of success and making it a habit will help you get through the trying times.
2) Reflect and plan on a daily basis. Each night, about 15 minutes before you go to bed, you should be reflecting on the day and planning for the next day. That way, your subconscious gets all night to work on the best solution possible for the challenges you know you will face the following day.
3) Live in forgiveness. People get too caught up in anger and in judging themselves and other people. Living in forgiveness (forgiving yourself and others) is a happier and more peaceful way to live. Waking up every morning and repeating the following affirmations will help put you in the right state of mind:
I am able to forgive myself.
I am able to forgive others.
I am able to forgive life.
I am able to forgive God.
I am one who lives in forgiveness.
Q: What part does timing play in the equation for personal growth?
A: I believe that personal growth must be intentional and not accidental. Therefore, in the strictest sense, timing has very little to do with personal growth. However, the timing of events in your life can play a role in stunting your personal growth – if you let them. That’s why intentionally growing and sticking to a personal growth plan is so important.
Q: How do you define your own purpose and passion in life?
A: I believe that we’re all endowed with a purpose and passion from God. It manifests itself in our gifts and what we are naturally drawn to do. My purpose and passion is to positively affect the lives of 10,000,000 people each year. While I can see this clearly now, it took me many years to understand my wiring and to get back to living to my purpose and passion. That is one of the reasons I’m on a mission to help people better understand themselves.
Q: If you had only one thing in the world to do, what would it be?
A: Be on stage speaking. I love being on stage and speaking. I love the interaction with people, how the energy flows and how, when things all line up, you and the audience become one. Being on stage (or holding court as some of my friends call it) is where I’m at home, at peace, and doing what I was born to do. From the time I was a small child, I was wired to share. While many people chalked it up to me being talkative, what they didn’t realize is that it was more than merely being talkative. It was a deep rooted desire to share. It also brings about the biggest joy in my life, inspiring and empowering people to transform their lives.
Q: Are there any new book projects up your sleeve?
A: I am currently working on my next three books. One is a follow-up to The Secret Blueprint to More, the second one is tied more closely to my research on how people are wired and the third is a deeply personal one about a journey I’ve taken in 2013.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: The best place is my website, http://chrismsprague.com
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: When you look at people who are succeeding and people who are struggling, one thing separates them. The ones who succeed understand and utilize how they are wired. The ones who struggle, don’t. It’s that simple. Understanding and utilizing your wiring is what took people like Oprah Winfrey and Loretta Lynn from poverty to the heights of their profession. It’s what takes someone who cannot survive doing a technical job and makes them a great manager. It’s what top-notch CEOs understand when they build their inner-circle. It’s what allows incredible authors like Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, John C. Maxwell and others to churn out new books year after year. It’s what takes people from relative obscurity to fame. To make this happen for you, I invite you to check out The Wired to Thrive Project. The core of this project comes from material that has helped thousands and thousands of people from over 40 different countries around the world. The Wired to Thrive Project will kick into high-gear in January 2014 with the goal of inspiring and empowering people to understand how they are wired and thrive. The goal is to have 47 people preregistered for The Wired to Thrive Project by December 31st, 2013. More information can be found at http://WiredToThriveProject.com