Bloom warrior planted

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John M. DeLapp
  • 92nd Air Refueling Squadron commander
One of the greatest things about serving in the U.S. military is that every chief master sergeant began as an airman basic and every four-star general began their officer career as a second lieutenant. Everyone, regardless of rank, begins at the ground level. The beauty of this system is we have the opportunity to discover lessons and gain experiences throughout our entire career, whether we serve one year or we serve thirty. In my mind, we all pass some of what we learn on to others as they move up in their military service careers - a kind of mentorship.

I recently received some great advice from one of my more experienced former bosses. The advice I received was a reminder on what it means to be a successful Airman, regardless of rank, position or experience. He wrote me, "DO THE BEST JOB YOU CAN AT WHAT THE AF HAS ASKED YOU TO DO TODAY, AND DO IT EVERYDAY." Yes, it was all in capital letters. When I received the correspondence I couldn't help but compare it to a similar quote I never really liked: "Bloom where you're planted." I've never liked being compared to a plant, but this particular piece of advice I received felt so much more appropriate and interesting.

As I look back on my career so far, I've tried to serve my career to the idea that if you do the best job you can, the system will reward you. Excellence is one of our core values and we should all be striving for it in every task, no matter how insignificant we feel that task may be.

Do your absolute best and you'll be presented with greater challenges where you'll have the chance to show your courage and leadership. The "reward for a job well done" may not be on your timing or as you planned for yourself, but you will advance and earn opportunities to do greater things.

The last four words of the mentoring I received, "AND DO IT EVERYDAY", are by far the most challenging to live up to. With some effort, anyone can make a momentary push to look good or get the current number-one issue done. Only a few can sustain superior performance, especially when they don't feel like it.

In my squadron, I tell my flyers to treat every flight like a check ride. I expect them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and to do it the right way, all the time, even if there isn't an evaluator looking over their shoulders. If you look at doing your job like it's your duty and you put in the extra effort to do it right all the time, the rest will take care of itself.

I hope this piece of advice I received in some small way motivates you to keep attacking and keep leading.