Make it Happen

As a leader who coaches top talent every single day, I am often asked the question: “What is the secret to your success?” Every time I am asked, I am reminded of the words I so often heard from one of the most impactful leaders I ever encountered:

“Make it happen, Private Hughes! Make it happen!” –Drill Sergeant Butler

These words that once tortured me are now my Holy Grail of success. Hence, my response is always those three words – Make. It. Happen.


Army Basic Training is a reprogramming of sorts. You are taught the importance of leadership, discipline, and a variety of other things (ex: pushups!), but Basic Training’s most important lesson is really one of eliminating the artificial limits that we all place on ourselves. These limits are not apparent to any of us until we blow through them, set the new ones, and then blow through those…and so on.

A great example of this is dreaded 25km road march – one of many elements of Basic that teaches you to see beyond your artificial limits. For the 25km road march, you start out before daylight with a 60lb rucksack on your back, a canteen on your hip, and an M16 assault rifle in your hands. And then you march…fast…very fast…in formation.

As the miles wear on, your mind feverishly tries to convince you that there is no way for you to continue. But you do. Your feet are bleeding (literally), and you are reduced to tears as you see the next seemingly endless hill come into view. But you somehow finish…not only with a sense of accomplishment, but with a kernel of perspective that will grow into an understanding of what your true potential really is.


In short…everything. Another leader (Brian Kibby) who has had an extraordinary impact on me often points out that most people will never reach their true potential. I completely agree, largely because of the artificial limits we all place on ourselves. These limits are toxic, success-killing cancers that have a profound impact on our ability to achieve our dreams. Success really comes down to three words: Make. It. Happen. Nobody else can make it happen for us, and the world owes us nothing. Period.

In business, the most successful people are the ones who simply make it happen…regardless of the obstacles in the way, regardless of the effort required, and regardless of the sacrifice. Real success starts with the core belief that you can (quite literally) accomplish anything, and it can only be achieved by incorporating the all too often missing ingredient – action. It all starts with placing one foot in front of the other, with constant correction to stay on course.

Do you want to achieve your true potential? Follow these three steps to Make It Happen:

  1. Maintain an optimistic attitude. The second you go negative, all success will cease. Period. This means no complaining (ever), and always being success and solutions oriented. It also means eliminating those around you who are negative, as they will drag you down.
  2. Action. The greatest secret to accomplishing any dream or goal is to get to work on it. Not by thinking about it, but by acting. You can course correct as needed, so don’t wait until you have all the answers to start acting. Start right now!
  3. Remove all artificial limits. This sounds harder than it is. Here’s my simple recipe – anytime I feel like quitting, I just keep going. The moment I quit, my artificial limits have won. There are very few things that are actually legitimate reasons to quit. If you think you’ve hit one, email me and we can discuss ways around it.

While the above seems simple, it is certainly not easy. As are all things – it is ultimately up to you. Make. It. Happen.

Lead. Courageously.

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