By Jonathan Widran

Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election handily because he tapped into and mirrored a common yet remarkable aspect of human nature--people’s collective desire to hope for better things and make changes to ensure they happen. While his first two years in office have shown that it’s difficult if not impossible to literally shift the political climate in Washington, all of us possess the individual power (and have a unique responsibility) to enact changes in our own lives, achieve our goals and live the life we dream of.

In his powerful, perception shifting new book The Six Dimensions of C.H.A.N.G.E., Colorado based speaker, author, trainer and coach Kenny Chapman draws on his own remarkable journey—and unique, ever-winding path of self-discovery—to help people find what it takes to live a truly happy, prosperous life. Making thorough analyses of ultra-successful individuals, and drawing on the risk taking which led him through dark and doubtful times to build a multi-million dollar plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, Kenny has developed simple, concise strategies that help people worldwide reach their true potential.

Kenny’s expansion into the world of motivational speaking began in the early 2000s when, inspired by Michael Gerber’s bestselling book The E-myth Revisited, he became one of the company’s certified consultants to entrepreneurs seeking financial freedom. Later realizing that his larger purpose was to “make a positive impact on people while learning and growing myself,” Kenny joined the National Speaker’s Association. He also became a professional trainer for Nexstar Network, a national contracting business “best practices group”; his company, Peterson Plumbing, became a longtime member.

He found that implementing Nexstar’s strategies and information helped create more income for his company and gave him more freedom in his life. The Grand Junction based Peterson currently has 18 team members (including plumbers and service technicians) and generates in excess of $3 million per year--incredible figures for a small city with a population of approximately 100,000. He created The Chapman Companies for his literary and speaking-related endeavors.

Since the publication of C.H.A.N.G.E., he has been sharing the stage at events as a

“Platinum Speaker” everywhere from Los Angeles and Philadelphia to Orlando, South Carolina and Missouri with Les Brown, renowned as the world’s leading motivational speaker whose motto is “Unwrap Your Infinite Greatness.”

As Kenny launches his own speaking tours based on the concepts he covers in his book, Brown, who knows incredible talent when he sees it, has offered a ringing endorsement: “Kenny Chapman has created a program that will begin to allow you to get out of your head and into your greatness. He’ll share with you methods and techniques that will give you the ability to dominate your industry. Kenny is the voice of inspiration and the voice that will transform your life”

C.H.A.N.G.E. is an acronym for the six principles Kenny believes are tied to our concept of self worth, belief in ourselves and our ability to make positive changes in our lives: Clarity. Habit. Action. Never Give Up. Gratitude. Enthusiasm. Clarity is about focusing on what it is you want in drilled down, very specific terms—not just “I want to make more money,” but “I want to earn $10,000 more by January 31.” It’s about drawing a line in the sand on a singular item. As for habits, Kenny estimates that 80 percent of the things we do are by force of habit—so it’s important to take inventory and see which of these serves us well and which do not. The key is replacing the bad ones with better ones to continue our upward spiral.

Now for Action: “In the speaking world,” Kenny says, “there are a lot of seminar junkies, people who attend every event, read everything but don’t do anything. It’s not just about information, it’s about acting on the information we have.” He believes that fear is what holds people back—fear of success being bigger sometimes than that of failure. Once you examine your habits of soaking things in, you may realize you will accomplish more if you do more than talk about it. Never Give Up is a cliché for some, but a truism all the same because, Kenny says, you’re getting closer to success every time you fail—and if you’re not failing, you’re not doing. He uses the expression “chunked down” to mean it’s about getting in the game and daring to fail so that you can reach your goals in the end. When you make a mistake, it’s not a place of discouragement but an opportunity to shift your mindset and apply what you have learned.

People talk about gratitude often, but in our consumer-driven culture, we sometimes define ourselves more by what we don’t have than what we have that we should be grateful for. “But there is no success, or happiness for that matter, without it,” Kenny says. “No matter what we think we lack, we always have something to be grateful for. It’s a good thing to desire and want more. Don’t be satisfied, but don’t forget there are good things along the way that you should recognize.” The final element of the C.H.A.N.G.E. philosophy is Enthusiasm. Think of yourself as a ball in a pinball machine; when one thing knocks you around, there’s always another to try. When you are knocked down, it’s your passion and positive energy that will help you get back up. That energy will help you through all the dimensions of life and your personal and business endeavors.

“Though the book focuses on general strategies based on this acronym,” Kenny says, “it’s also largely autobiographical. Because I know where I come from and how many obstacles I had to overcome to work on finding success, I like to think of my own life as a mirror for other people who can benefit from the information I am sharing. It’s like that film ‘Marley and Me.’ You’re not just crying because the dog died in the movie but also because of what it represents to you. One of my seminar options, in fact, is ‘Custom Design,’ so that clients can choose what they want me to address based on what they are looking for with their group. Nothing I do is stock, off the shelf stuff. It’s all based on the life experiences I have had. It’s just my good fortune to have figured out a way to share them in a way that is helpful to people in a corporate context.”

The basic programs Kenny offers are: The Six Dimensions of C.H.A.N.G.E.; Secrets to Winning in Life and Business; The Keys to Leadership: Unleashing Human Potential; and Mindset Makeover. All are available in keynote, workshop or half day session settings, and are very inspirational and action-oriented.

“The framework for all of these is simple, like the book,” Kenny says. “The programs are driven by the basic questions: ‘Where are you at today? Where do you want to go? What’s stopping you from getting there?’ There’s a reason I called one of the programs ‘Secrets to Winning in Life and Business.’ People often think life and business are separate things, but the minute they get here, I set them straight on the reality that your business and career are a part of your life so the two are intertwined. A big part of people development is empowering others, putting your ego aside but delegating with measurement and accountability instead of delegation through abdication. A big part of that is being willing to turn over the reins and allow someone to do things their way. At Peterson, I have a GM and Finance Operations Manager who take on the day to day responsibility, while I function as the strategic visionary leader working out of a home office.”

One of Kenny’s favorite programs is Mindset Makeover, in which he boldly asserts that attitude and approach is at least as important as one’s skill set. “Yes,” he says, “mindset is so much more important than skill set. It’s not just about having all the information. We’re taught that we need more corporate skills, this and that certification…that we don’t spend enough time on our mindset, the ‘why’ behind that. In the tradition of the Extreme Makeover TV shows, my aim is to transform people’s thinkings, whether they are leaders or team members of a company.”

Kenny is not shy about the darker elements of his background—including being the son of an outlaw biker and spending time in jail as a teenager for drug dealing—because it allows him to show them that “if I can do it, you can do it.” Born in San Diego and raised in Grand Junction, he got his life together serving in the U.S. Army for a few years; he then sought to apply the discipline he learned into launching his own business. At 23, he started looking around for opportunities and came upon a sewer cleaning company for sale; his first instinct was ‘no way,’ which was okay because he couldn’t afford it. A year later, working as a salesman in a lumberyard, a customer who ran a small drain cleaning company on the side offered to sell it to Kenny for a reasonable price. For two years, he ran the company and was its primary service technician, on call 24/7.

“People thought I was crazy, and they were right because I was doing everything myself and not really making great money,” Kenny says. “A mentor gave me great advice: if you’re going to do anything, be the best at it till you do something else. So I decided to give it everything I had, learning more about building a business, making changes to grow the company and most importantly, running it as a business vs. as a service technician.”

Reading Michael Gerber’s E-myth book changed his perception and he began to systematize his business, with amazing results. Kenny became a consultant for E-myth out of a desire to share what they had taught him, then started doing free-lance consulting and joined Nexstar. In addition to doing more general motivational speaking, his next goal is to bring these strategies he has developed into the plumbing and general contracting world.

“So many motivational speaker’s philosophies are like a house of cards, without a lot of reality to back them up,” he says. “When I share my story and tell the truth about where I’ve been and where I am, I make sure they understand that I may be up here but I don’t have it all figured out, I have just learned a few things I want to share with you. I think energy speaks to energy, and I feel it’s important to connect with people and deliver honesty and inspire them to grow and achieve their goals, even as I am aspiring for more in my life, too. I feel both a moral obligation and desire to share these things. I have a successful plumbing business in Grand Junction, but if I just stay there, content to simply run that, I feel I would be robbing people of a chance to change their lives based on the things I have done. In life, you either grow or die, and for me, dying is not an option. My purpose is to make that positive impact and help people while developing and strengthening myself as a person each day.”