Growing strong

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Zarbo
  • 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – This past June, I reported in to Travis Air Force Base, California.  As I drove through the main gate, I thought back to my experience 14 years earlier when I drove through the same gate as a second lieutenant.  Being new to the Air Force, I was provided with many pieces of advice during my first few months here.  One piece that was given to me by one of my earliest commanders was to “bloom where you are planted.”

It was not a unique piece of advice.  I am sure most everyone reading this has heard and perhaps even given it to someone at some point.  Usually when it is provided, it is in the context of informing a member of a good way to do well in their job to meet career goals.  It is how I took it at the time as well.  It made sense that if one performs to the best of their ability, it would demonstrate the potential and merits of the individual for the next level of responsibility or rank.

However, with a few more years in the Air Force than I had then, I see there is a greater importance to heeding this piece of advice that goes beyond the scope of an individual and increases its value.  Blooming where one is planted is not relegated to what one can do to be successful in their careers, but how their enhanced contributions are important to meet the needs of both fellow Airmen and the mission.  There are no unimportant jobs.  Each duty position serves as a block in the overall structure required to achieve mission success.  Every Airman giving their best to their mission roles allow for their fellow Airman to do the same. 

I am excited to be planted back here at Travis because we consistently have an opportunity to make a difference around the globe.  The capability that resides here provides for game-changing options for the warfighter.  These options come in many forms.  The air mobility missions of the KC-10, C-5 and C-17 aircraft, the contingency response units that stand ready to deploy short notice to anywhere in the world to advance global reach as well as the skilled Airmen that not only take care of the home station mission, but also deploy to expeditionary locations around the world.

The phrase “bloom where you are planted” has been around a long time.  If you as a leader choose to give this piece of advice, please consider expounding on its effects beyond the sphere of that person’s career.  While blooming where one is planted is good advice to the member on how to approach a new job, its focus should not just be on individual career impact, but on how doing your best in each job pays forward daily in ways that may not be readily seen or felt.  When every Airman is blooming where they are planted, there is no limit to the success of Team Travis or the Air Force.