The dream started back in 2005. That’s how long I’ve been wanting to publish a book about the struggles, victories, and lessons I experienced at West Point, in the Army, and beyond. I started writing and made a lot of progress. But life makes demands on our time and attention, and our “must do” lists wind up as “get to one day” lists. So as 2016 was drawing to a close, the book was partially written but not done, and actual publication seemed remote. So I made a new year’s resolution for 2017: climb Mount Rainier, continue my PhD studies, and publish my book.

Mission accomplished.

On October 12, 2017, I stood in front of a screaming crowd of 200-plus Cadet Candidates at the West Point Prep School with my book, The Dot on the Left, in my hand. I spoke to them about the stories in the book and about my message—that dreams are more powerful than where you fall on any scale, any chart, any curve. It was a perfect moment, one I’d been anticipating for a long, long time.

When I made my resolutions, I wasn’t sure how any of it would get done. But I took those dreams, made them into goals, and executed, which is the hardest part. I believed in myself, put together a trusted team, and believed in them. I also relied on a little bit of luck, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The trick is recognizing when luck has brought you something or someone that you need and seizing the opportunity.

This has been an amazing journey that’s just beginning. I’ve already gone full circle: going back to the school where I struggled so much and speaking words that I hope will inspire the young mind who sit where I sat. I never thought I would be sharing my story with them, let alone giving them a book that I believe will be a sort of “dreamer’s manual” for anyone who’s been told what they can’t do. Which is all of us.

I can’t wait to go back again next year.