In October of 2010, just before my 50th birthday, I sat in my office taking stock of all I had achieved that led me to this place – a very lucrative role as a senior leader at a fortune 100 firm. And a 20-plus year run in both the federal and private sectors where I successfully led large organizations and reached roles and goals I would not have imagined were possible for me. How did this scrappy young kid with roots in an underserved neighborhood on the West Coast rise to this? And while I had achieved so much, I felt so far away from any sense of purpose or connection with meaningful work that was grounded in doing something greater than myself. I deeply reflected on whether the work I was doing really mattered.
My single mom worked two jobs for as long as I can remember to care for four kids – three boys and me, the youngest and only girl. Some days, we had little food and had to be inventive in finding ways to make money as a family. I remember my mom driving us in an old gray truck to a place where we climbed trees and cut mistletoe that we wrapped in bundles with a red ribbon at Christmas to sell door-to-door for 50 cents.
Looking back on those times, I had little awareness that we were struggling to overcome crushing economic and social challenges that would eventually teach me the resilience I’ve drawn on time and time again as an adult. These struggles, combined with our mother’s example of hardiness and the love that filled our home, kept our family together. Mother gave us perpetual optimism, a giving spirit, and the grit and persistence to overcome any obstacle, which in the end was the secret to my success.
“I grew up in a neighborhood where at times, just getting to school and back in one piece was a major accomplishment.” – Marialane Schultz, IOCI Founder and CEO
These hurdles should have held me back, yet my mother’s example and the help provided by other caring people – coaches, teachers, mentors – who saw my potential was just the lift I needed to put me on a path of remarkable achievements. I have never forgotten their impact on my life.
Sometimes, however, we find ourselves achieving, rising hierarchically, gaining more wealth and security along the way, yet faced with an empty sense of purpose and incongruence with who we set out to serve and what impacts we hoped to make in our lives.
IOCI emerged as a driving force in my life to help others achieve greater success through purpose, grit, passion and service to others.
So, in my 50th year, I suddenly found myself looking back on a wonderfully successful career with emptiness and a rising need to reconnect with the essential teachings of my childhood. I longed for the textures that struggle, courage, deep human connection and meaningful work can bring to our lives. In that moment of clarity, IOCI emerged as a driving force in my life to help others achieve greater success through purpose, grit, passion and service to others.
We call this Spirited Business® – a space where leaders cultivate empowered environments and fully engage employees in a purposeful aim, and who passionately and energetically advance toward that purpose. That is why IOCI exists … to help individuals and organizations live and work with passionate, purpose-driven spirit in all they do. To be that lift. To help others see how much they are capable of, then help them do it. That is our cause. Our reason for being. And we can’t wait to share it with you.
Marialane Schultz is the founder of IOCI. She helps individuals and organizations perform at their best, do meaningful work and be impactful through customized coaching and consulting engagements.