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Grab your book: Literature program generates professional development at Travis

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The lobby is full of people. Some are hurrying to check out so they can make their flights, while others are waiting for their coffee. In the corner of the room sits an Air Force staff sergeant.

In her hands is “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller. She carefully reads each page and remains focused despite the noise surrounding her. After a few minutes, she brushes some hair out of her face and looks up.

Staff Sgt. Lashauna Dowdy, 60th Force Support Squadron front desk clerk at the Westwind Inn, joined the Professional Literature Program when it was initially offered at Travis Air Force Base in February. The program provides people with an opportunity to grow through reading, something Dowdy said she appreciates.

“One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more, so once I heard about the group, I signed up,” she said. “I’ve attended every session.”

Participants read one book a month and meet the second Wednesday of each month at the Travis First Term Airman Center. During the meeting, the group talks about the book they read for that month.

The first book featured in the program was “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth followed by “The One Thing.”

“I took a lot from ‘The One Thing,’” Dowdy said. “It helped me realize, especially in the military, we tend to multitask and often try to perform multiple jobs at once. Sometimes being too busy isn’t good. The book recommends that we focus on ‘one thing’ that fires us up and motivates us. Knowing what that ‘one thing’ is will fuel the best work that you can push forward and ultimately, make you better.”

The mother of three said her ‘one thing’ is family.

“I have a daughter and two boys, so when I feel tired or frustrated, I think of them and about how much I want to make their lives better,” she said. “That gives me the motivation to get the mission done and push through whatever I have to do.”

“The discussion groups have also helped me get over my fear of public speaking and have provided tremendous opportunities for networking,” she added.

Master Sgt. Brandon Jackson, 60th FSS career assistance adviser, hopes the literature program helps others as it has Dowdy.

“Development is extremely important and the Air Force provides development opportunities such as Airman Leadership School and the Noncommmissioned Officer Academy at certain points, but we want to bridge the gaps between those moments,” he said. “It could be a while before someone attends a formal course so we need to ensure we are doing all we can to help develop our Airmen, both military and civilian, and the literature program is one way to do that.”

With “Grit,” Jackson said Airmen learned the importance of identifying what they are passionate about.

“Knowing what your passion is, what drives you and ‘your why,’ will help you achieve success, for the mission and in life no matter what adversity you may face,” Jackson said.

This ability to persevere also empowers people to accomplish their goals, he said.

“When you have a goal, something you want to achieve and you know why that goal matters to you, you have the perseverance to never give up,” Jackson said.

Senior Airman Michael Specioso, 60th Security Forces Squadron assistant NCO in charge of vehicle operations, said he signed up for the literature program to not just help himself, but his fellow Airmen.

“My focus is developing professionally so I can help Airmen, especially first-term Airmen,” he said. “Many Airmen may only serve in the Air Force for a few years and we need to ensure they’re developed deliberately to not only help the Air Force, but set them up for future success after their Air Force career.”

Specioso said he plans on sharing what he’s learned in the program with the members of his unit.

“I took a lot from the book ‘Grit,’” he said. “It helped me refocus and think about things differently. One section of the book talks about four steps of deliberate practice, being 100 percent focused, very specific practice and informative, rich feedback. This part of the book forces people in leadership positions to ask themselves, ‘How can I better refine my leadership tactics and share those things with junior Airmen to ensure they are led properly and developed to the utmost of their capabilities?’”

“Deliberate development will improve our Airmen and lead to increased mission efficiency,” added Specioso.

The goal of the literature program is to breathe new life into professional development at Travis, Jackson said.

“We offer lunch-and-learns that cover 13 rotating topics, professional enhancement seminars and so many other courses, but when someone has attended nearly all of those courses, it’s important to find a way to keep the program fresh and offer people opportunities for growth,” he said.

“My hope is for us to continue to offer new ways for Team Travis to come together, network, team build and sharpen one another,” he added.