It’s all about the sauce

  • Published
  • By Col. Josh Olson
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing
My favorite food is pizza. Red pizza or white pizza, lots of veggies or meat lovers, thick crust or thin crust—it doesn’t matter to me, if you keep out the anchovies, it’s all delicious.

My grandfather Daniel was German, and my grandmother Natalie was Italian. Growing up in a family of seven, we were usually fortunate enough to drive to Detroit to see my grandparents usually at the holidays. My grandma’s cooking was the best! Everything was made from scratch, and she could feed the hungriest of appetites. The best part about her cooking was when she taught me little tricks and her special ingredients. She would let me sample a little bit here and a little bit there, but if anyone else would try she would smack them with a wooden spoon.

Grandma’s cooking taught me some of the most profound leadership lessons of my life. Success in life is all about the sauce, but sometimes it takes a wooden spoon!

All Airmen come from different backgrounds, have had different experiences and are from all walks of life. Some join the Air Force out of necessity, some join for schooling and some join just to get out of tough times. No matter what it is that brought you here, embrace it, because it’s the sauce that makes you who you are. Each memory and each regret are the special ingredients that drive you through today and lead you to tomorrow.

As a boy, I lost my dad and made many bad decisions as I tried to figure out life. I was fortunate to have a mother with a wooden spoon who helped me get back on the right path. As a young man, I had to work a few jobs to pay for school and help out around the house. I may have missed out on some things, but those early jobs gave me the work ethic I have today and everything that I will pass on to my kids.

I believe my pizza is exactly how it’s supposed to be. I’ve been hardened from bumps and bruises from many mistakes, softened by laughter and love from a forgiving wife and incredible kids and humbled by Airmen who selflessly serve others. Don’t ever forget that whatever success you wish to have, it starts your decisions today—that’s how you create your sauce.