10 Things I Learned at the Making Things Happen Conference - Dawn Barton

By my count, I have attended about 478 million leadership or motivational conferences in my lifetime. I am a conference aficionado, and I love a good “conference high.”

In January 2018, I signed up to attend the Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC. I did it partly out of curiosity about what these types of conferences looked like and partly out of my love for the retreat host, Lara Casey.

I knew I would definitely not get anything out of it because, after all, I was an expert at all things in the arena of women, motivation and leadership. In fact, if Lara were to call in sick, I knew I could just jump in there and teach. I’m a rockstar in the conference game.

Two weeks before the event I went to the website for more details. I could not for the life of me get a clear understanding of what I signed up for. All I could find were phrases like “dig deep” and “meaningful action.” Panic set in as I imagined women hugging for hours, crying about their lives into each other’s shoulders. What on earth had I signed up for?

Where were my timed agendas and class offerings? What kind of disorganized show were Lara and her team of beautiful and very cheerful women running? (I’m not kidding, I don’t know how they do it, but they are each lovely and beam with joy, all of them.) Not to worry, when I arrived, I would “help” them with how to better describe such events, poor things.

I arrived in Chapel Hill, along with my incredibly humble attitude. Oozing with certainty that there wasn’t anything they could possibly teach me, I nevertheless knew it would be wonderful to see my sweet friend Lara — and a few nights away in a hotel is always a bonus. Worst case, it would be a sweet tax write off.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a particularly “touchy-feely” kind of girl, no crying and all of that in business. I’m more of a “let’s pull it together and crush those big goals” kind of girl. I’m good, I’m bold, and I can do BIG things — just ask me. Mix this with my precious humble attitude, and you get what a delightful darling I can be.

So, you know the saying: “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”? Yeah, slap my photo right up there next to that quote. Within 3 hours, this big, bad, conference goddess was standing with my palms opened wide, looking into the eyes of a woman I didn’t know, tears streaming down my face, as I voiced my truest fears. Out loud, in front of 100 of my new closest friends.

I was wrecked, and it was beautiful, freeing and invigorating. How in the heck did this just happen?  During a course of 48 hours, my world was beautifully and wonderfully changed. I can not explain the power of this retreat to you, or how dramatically it will shift and bless you, but I can tell you that no one was more resistant to it than I was.

There are no words to put into a description for women to read and decide if they want to sign up; it is a blind faith decision. The closest I can come to something coherent is this: This conference is for you if you’re in a place in your life where you know you want to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. This may be personally or in business, doesn’t matter. Each woman is unique and each woman needs something different. I wish I could articulate why it was so incredible, I just know I’m incredibly grateful God nudged me to push that button to register.

Here are 10 things I learned at MAKING THINGS HAPPEN

1. It will be a pivot point in my life. There will be my life before MTH and my life after MTH.
2. The reason I thought I was attending was not at all why I need to go, it was so much deeper than business.
3. It was a powerful deep, vision casting two days unlike anything out there.
4. So glad I didn’t chicken out of going because I didn’t know anyone – I now have a beautiful bond with the most amazing that no one will ever be able to take away. Our stories, our hearts, our fears were shared and, in that sharing, we became one, forever bonded, group of women.
5. I was scared this would be a cry baby, touchy feely, eye rolling, chick fest . . . it was not. (No, I’m not saying this because I was one of the ones crying.)
6. I can go without talking for long periods of time. Shocking, I know.
7. The encouragers were kind and real, they made us feel like their equals immediately.
8. My family really can survive without me, and my house did not burn down.
9. I now have a clear focus on what I want my life to be when I’m 80, in 10 years, and tomorrow. Step by step, action items and all.
10. A 500 lb weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel happier, more focused and honed in on what I want to MAKE HAPPEN going forward.

This conference is a gift worth far more than the price of the ticket to go. I can’t fully explain it and, honestly, I’m glad I can’t — because I want you to take a chance on yourself and go. Believe that you are worth doing something incredible for, because you are.


All photos by the incredibly talented Rachel Coffey