Success is a journey, not a destination. – Arthur Ashe
“I love your story.” To my surprise, I keep hearing this from random people. I guess I did not realize that I had a story. But don’t we all have a story? What is the story of Olga Nash? Since storytelling is a practice of leadership, I think the time is right to tell the story of my quest for excellence.
Interestingly enough, my journey began in Asia. I was born in a village of 300 people. In a house with no central heat and no running water. Actually, no bathroom at all. The same house that during winters got buried in snow up to the roof. The same house that had a cellar for a fridge. The same house that had no interior doors. The same house that housed cows under the same roof.
I know what it is like for your food to be rationed and for your apartment to not have hot water in the depth of negative degree winter. I know what it is like not having a paved walkway to your building and collecting kilograms of mud on your stilettos. I know what it is like to grow your own food – manual labor was my first connection. I know what it means to have your life mapped out for you, your thoughts thought out, your choices chosen. I also know that an education can be bought and a job can be fashioned without a business need.
I came to this country alone, carrying one bag, having one pair of shoes – on my feet, not knowing a single sole, not being able to speak the language. Now I have 50 pairs of shoes and a Master’s degree.
My spouse at the time could not substantiate sponsorship, still I have pledged allegiance. In fact, I am probably the most patriotic person you will ever meet. I wasn’t born into it – I have earned it.
I joined my current company in Idaho answering phones at a call center. I always thought that with a Finance degree I would be in banking. But I have been threading the insurance waters for over 10 years now. Luckily, I was given a chance to move to LA a couple, where I accidentally ended up in my current job. Originally, I was hired as an analyst for another function that belonged in the department at the time. However, someone quit on the exact same day that I started, and I was asked to take the newly vacated position as the need was perceived to be more urgent. With the three hours of training that I received that day and no Records Management education or experience, I have been taking on more and more responsibilities and exceeding expectations for two and a half years.
So if you are tempted to ask me why did I not go to Harvard, or Yale, or at least UCLA, or why did I not utilize my Finance degree, or why am I trying to start over at 35, I pray that you are never in the same kind of shoes I was when I was making my choices. I have made the most of the privileges and opportunities life gave me. I have worked hard for everything I am and everything I have. And I am still not done with my journey. Make no mistake – I am here to rule the world. So if you think I can’t, think again – I can more than you can imagine.
What is your story? Isn’t it about time for it to be told?