Bloom where you are planted

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Raul Flores
  • 71st Mission Support Group First Sergeant
I'm sure everyone has heard someone say, "Aww man, here comes the shirt -- now what?" 

Well, to be honest, that is how I feel when someone from the Public Affairs office comes to see me. It's not that I don't think they're an outstanding group of people. In fact, they do a remarkable job. 

It's because I know exactly what they are about to tell me. "Hey shirt, it's time for your article." Then they lay a suspense on me. 

So once again I am struggling with finding a topic to write about for this week's paper.
I decided this time to go looking for some help and consulted with one of my fellow first sergeants. He looked at me and said "It's easy, you have all those idioms you are always saying -- just use one of those." 

I have to be honest; I had to look up the word idiom. I thought he was calling me idiot right to my face! He then told me to use one of my favorites -- "Bloom where you're planted." 

I did not invent the phrase. I can't even remember the first time I heard it, but it always stuck with me. I guess it all started when I heard someone say, "Your best assignment is the one you just left, the worst is the one you are in now, and the best will be the one you go to after this one." 

Everyone always looks forward to their next assignment but how many times have we heard, "Well, at my last base..." 

Bloom where you're planted was always in the back of my mind but when I got here as a first sergeant I started doing First Term Airman Center briefings, briefing Airman Leadership School classes, and other classes to support professional development. The phrase took on a new perspective. 

I always tell the young Airmen at the end of our briefings, if they don't remember anything else remember this; bloom where you're planted. Then I offer the following explanation. 

For a first term Airman arriving at Vance, this is a great assignment. Vance is a small base with a big mission. There is no reason for a first term Airman to leave here without all of their upgrade training completed. 

And if they haven't completed it, they should be close to finishing up their Community College of the Air Force degree. For those that come in with college credits already, they should have their CCAF completed and be actively pursuing a bachelor's degree. 

The other good thing about having Vance as your first assignment is that it gives supervisors the opportunity to provide more intense one-on-one training, ensuring that their Airmen aren't just memorizing answers but they are actually able to apply what they've learned and truly understand the how and why of their jobs. 

Supervisors also have the advantage of developing their troops so that when they do leave this assignment, they are a step ahead of their peers. 

Imagine being a technical school graduate and your first assignment is a base like Lackland AFB, Texas, or Ramstein AB, Germany. You are one of 300 or more Security Forces members and you are expected to hit the ground running. 

It would not be unlikely for an Airman to be expected to complete their training quickly and possibly even be required to learn several tasks as they go along in order for them to be completely operational in their work center. 

Please understand I am not attempting to take anything away from our fellow Airmen at larger bases. My point is they have such dynamic and demanding missions that they miss out on a lot of the opportunities that are available here at Vance. 

I encourage young Airmen to bloom where they are planted. To become the best Airman they can be no matter what Air Force Specialty Code. It takes everyone to accomplish the mission. 

As I think more about this bloom where you're planted, it not only applies to young, first-term Airmen, but to all Airmen. Officers and enlisted, should focus on the mission here at Vance. Their last assignment is over. It is now time to focus on the mission at hand. 

It is always important to share information that you think will allow our mission to be completed more effectively. If you have a more efficient way of doing business that worked at your last assignment, then speak up. 

We all have challenges here that will require our full attention to detail. With the major holidays coming up in November and December, our February Operational Readiness Inspection is practically around the corner. 

So let's face our challenges head on and bloom where we're planted. Always be mindful not to get too complacent. A turtle never gets anywhere until he sticks out his neck out.