Blooming Where You’re Planted

By Scott Westerman
My friend Kathleen reminded me of the spiritual maxim, “Bloom where you are planted,” this week. She’s a shining example.

After relocating with her young child, she discovered that the teaching career she had planned on wasn’t materializing. Rather than abandoning her home base, she pondered what opportunities might lie right their in the neighborhood. Thinking carefully about that magic point where her passions intersected with her skills, she took her Michigan State University education and focused it on becoming a free lance editor. To shorten a long story (most success does not happen overnight), she now can pick her clients, is loving where she is living and earns the income to enjoy the fruits of her labors.

I saw another example tonight. I had the good fortune to attend the pre-event for the 12th annual Steve Smith charity golf outing, to be held Monday in Grand Rapids. It’s always inspiring to hear Steve talk, especially so this time as our other special guest was Spartan for Life, Tom Izzo. But the most interesting conversation I had was with another former Spartan athlete. He’s a Great Lakes Stater by birth and has leveraged his academic achievement and his athletic notoriety to build a successful business career. But he felt the call to return to where he was originally planted. He is reinventing himself in Michigan as an example to others who might be considering up-rooting.

True, geographic flexibility increases your chance of hitting striking gold, but don’t be afraid to look for your acres of diamonds in your own back yard.

Ask yourself these questions:

What do you most enjoy doing?
What un-met needs are there in the area where you now live?
What additional skills, education, contacts and resources do you need to connect your passion with a value proposition?

Ray Croc was a milkshake mixer salesman who started making hamburgers when he saw how they helped increase his sales volume. That became the genesis of the McDonald’s story. The bicycle couriers you see racing between the congressional office buildings in Washington began as a single kid who found himself stuck in DC with a bike and the need for some income.

In truth, opportunity exists wherever you are.. If you spread your field of view wide enough to recognize it.

This also applies to whatever job you are now doing. Look at the big picture. Understand how your work and the work of your department contributes to the larger goals of the organization. Sometimes, re-engineering the way the work is done, teaching the current team some new skills, or simply providing a little energizing cheerleading can take the operation and your career to an entirely new level.

One of the reasons I deeply believe that Michigan will recover and thrive in this new century is embodied in our State motto:

“Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice.” – “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

To quote from out State website, “This statement holds many truths. Michigan is a land of great splendors. Full of natural beauty, historical importance and citizens full of hope and energy as we enter into a new millennium. Michigan is also a place of economic opportunities..”

This speaks to everything that’s in the recipe for success:

Seek beauty and joy
Dream Big
Leverage a talented and motivated team
Learn from the past and have faith in the future

And look about you!