You Have Arrived

Shannon Joy Mekeel is a proud USAF Veteran and in 2023 when this book was written, she was a marketing professional living in Florida who got fed up with inefficient processes, exasperated coworkers, and angry customers while also dealing with her husband’s prostate cancer diagnosis and her youngest son’s precarious graduation from high school. Shannon is now an organizational leadership thought leader, and the owner of SJM Consulting Services, where she shares her passion with organizations that need a healthy dose of empathy and want to fundamentally improve their culture and bottom line.

This project started as a love letter to Shannon’s husband, but it soon became something much more profound. The author has been applying the Air Force’s core values of “Integrity First,” “Service Before Self,” and “Excellence in All We Do” to the civilian sector for over two decades, and 95% of the companies she has worked for didn’t measure up. So, she paused her life to write it all down, and in so doing shone a light on how and why most leaders fail their employees. The author uses her memoirs to traverse the American, post-COVID landscape through candid stories. These are lessons that we can all use to become empathetic and inspired advocates for change. It’s what American employees are demanding and it’s what our culture needs to become. Empathy is what is lacking in the American workplace.

My sons have had the advantage of parents who are transparent with them. We want to teach our children to be better than us, and we know that transparency and empathy are how to do that. Those under thirty, in many cases, have also witnessed the hours, the stress, and the lack of compensation that has plagued their parents and their grandparents’ generations and they are not signing up for that. This new generation of Americans, which now makes up over half of our population, is organized, intelligent, informed, and they are just. The traditional patriarchy is already being rejected as minorities and women now have seats at all the tables. Our culture is shifting and I am excited about what’s to come.

As a mother of three sons under twenty-five who question everything, know everything, and truthfully want very little from others, how could I impact what I knew the most about, the modern workplace? It is my ultimate goal to help the modern workforce and leaders improve their communication, processes, and philosophies in a way that moves us closer to our goals as a nation.

This tale is about my becoming and my arrival. It is about being a mom, getting a divorce, climbing the corporate ladder, meeting the love of my life, and how friends can hold you up… and even mend your broken heart. The irony of my title, You Have Arrived, is that none of us ever really do arrive. Instead, we just do our best every day to be authentic and honor those who have gone before us. Sure, there are those big, beautiful moments when we sense the clouds parting and we reach the preverbal summit, but eventually, we must climb down the mountain, regroup, and walk toward our next goal to arrive once more. Those who live life to the fullest achieve greatness by helping others, and in so doing we can arrive each day, and that’s what makes life such a gift; not arriving per se but getting the opportunity to serve and to evolve.

Some will tell you that putting your secrets down for everyone to read is dangerous. Some will promise that if you are completely vulnerable and put it down on paper, others are bound to connect with your story, and if all goes well you will get the opportunity to help people. That should always be the goal: to help people.

My husband’s prostate cancer diagnosis has been a gift that has allowed us to reprioritize what is important. My book has been a way for me to get these complex feelings out and then to share them with my husband whose cognitive abilities were being challenged by his treatment. The process of sharing these hard lessons has given us both the opportunity to grow as individuals and as a couple. I am confident that what we have learned so far will make the chapter of our journey easier, and hopefully by telling our story through my blogs and my book, others will be able to get through this insane roller coaster a little easier too.