Kelly Finds a Great Career 9

Kelly Ketelboeter shared this story:

Zombie Boss

Zombie Boss

It was 2002 and I was completely miserable in my job. Prior to this realization I didn’t see my work as a job I saw it as a career. I loved what I was doing and felt I was making an impact. That was until one fateful day when I was confronted by the CEO and the EVP along with my boss. I had been home sick with pneumonia for a week and got a call from my boss that I had to come in for an important meeting. It took everything I had but I pulled myself together and went to the office.

As I entered the conference room, I had a very uneasy feeling and had no idea why I was there or what the meeting was about. The CEO and EVP began by berating me about a training session that had taken place 4 months earlier. They continued spewing verbal vomit all over me about things that did not happen. They had no facts, where talking about something that had happened months earlier, completely discounted all my hard work and effort and did it all with the conference room door open. I sat there in complete disbelief, feeling sick to my stomach and completely blindsided by my boss. That was the day that changed my life.

After that fateful meeting, I completely checked out from my work, lost all respect for my leaders and wanted to get out of that company as fast as I could. As fate would have it I received a call from a consultant I had hired to provide some training for our company. He asked if I would be interested in working with him to deliver sales and service training to his clients. His business had grown so much and he needed extra help. There were no guarantees for work, I would be a self-employed consultant, there were no benefits and there was absolutely no security.

I had met this man two times in my life but this opportunity seemed like a gift and the timing was perfect. My friends and family thought I was crazy to even consider giving up a secure job with a bi-weekly paycheck and benefits galore. Something inside me though said those things didn’t matter without respect and trust for your leaders or from your leaders.

So I took the plunge, quit my secure job and said good bye to steady paychecks. It was the best decision of my life. Seven years later I am still working as a consultant for the man that rescued me from hell. I have never worried about a steady paycheck. The money came and it came fast. I still don’t have benefits but that doesn’t matter at all to me. I am happy, I love what I do and I have been given opportunities I never would have had if I didn’t take the plunge into self-employment.

Did I hear a voice that told me take the plunge? I did. It was my inner voice telling me I could not work where I was not appreciated, where I did not trust my leaders or have respect for them. I also think that if the events of that fateful meeting with my previous CEO and EVP hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have jumped at another opportunity with absolutely no security. The voice in my head and heart told me go for it. To create my own future instead of leaving it in the hands of others. To go blindly into a new relationship without many facts and no guarantees.

I also believe the decisions I made are part of a larger plan and grand design for my life. I have met one of my best friends, started another consulting company and I am in charge of my life. I have met so many unbelievable people in my journeys that I would not have met had I not listened to my inner voice.

Like Kelly shared her story, share your own story

If you’ve ever listened to your inner voice or feelings to make a choice, please share your story on this website. I am collecting 1000’s of stories just like Kelly’s for the book I am writing “Life Is A Fork In The Road.” Your story is important because it will add something unique from all the rest. What I learn from all these stories added together may help us better understand how we can make better choices in the future and learn more about how the universe works.

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9 thoughts on “Kelly Finds a Great Career

  • waiting_for_inner_voice

    After a series of fateful meetings/events, I lost respect for the colleagues who bullied me, leaders who lacked enough respect for my voice in expressing how the role I’m in is developing and fulfilling itself, and for the organization that promotes itself as Socially Just and interested in pursuing personal success for all but blatantly fails when faced with incredulous opportunities to fulfill those words. So day by day I’m checking out from the work and wondering if it’s time to change roles or just get out of that organization as fast as I can.

    Meanwhile, I’m examining my own interactions and communication. By my choice,I attend workshops to develop interpersonal communication along with the necessary skills to fulfill a role that seems to have inconsistent definitions among key stakeholders. Inspired by the new learning, my life has dramatically changed. Layers of old messages, beliefs, and agreements are pealing away. I feel that my true self is emerging. My interactions are more genuine, more meaningful and more productive than ever before. The potential for the role I’m in has multiplied as a result of this new learning.

    And yet, I’m bored. I’ve heard that the role is going to be eliminated without a clear explanation of why nor an explanation of what my role in the organization will be. The key stakeholders continuously sing praises about my accomplishments and about what I have to offer to the organization. They tell me that I’m “brilliant and creative, and that they are so lucky to have me,” and yet all the while I feel a lack of participation and invitation to be a part of our organization’s work.

    I don’t want praises; I want to work. A weight perches on the center of my chest suffocating my spirit each time I hear one of my colleagues say, “I’m overwhelmed,” “I’m so busy,” “There’s too much to do,” “I’ve got so much work to do,” and the like especially since I’m here to support their work. Am I missing something here?

    • Don Shapiro Post author

      Deep down inside of you there is an answer waiting. The trouble for all of us is recognizing the answer and trusting that it really is the answer. What you are going through is quite common. On the surface, you feel a lot of conflicts between what you want and what you have.

      Let me offer some perspective and questions that may help you find the truth inside of you. Remember, this is your truth alone. What is right for you may not be right for others. That’s why no one else can give you the answer. We can only help you to find it.

      I sense that one part of you wants this all to work out without having to leave where you are at. It’s always hard to give up on something we have invested our efforts in and an organization we already know for the unknown. You may also be longing for the respect you have not been given by them bringing you into the loop and fully utilizing your talents. If you leave, you may get respect elsewhere but you are always left without closure concerning those in charge where you are now. These are just reflections from the outside looking in.

      As a management consultant, there are some things I know with a fairly high degree of confidence about what is happening. For whatever reasons, those in charge don’t think highly enough of you in certain ways to let you inside further. Either they don’t like you personally, don’t trust you, can’t relate to you or can’t see you in other roles. This may be due to their own limitations and lack of leadership. I can’t say why it’s happening.

      I’ve been in the same place many times both as an employee and as a consultant. Sometimes its politics. Sometimes you’re just not their type. Maybe some issues with your communication style before you took the workshops turned them off and they can’t switch gears even though you’ve improved. You might be more effective, they recognize the effectiveness, but they may not be able to break out of their earlier perceptions.

      Taking the workshop is your inner wisdom at work. You did this on your own. Something lead you to make that choice…take that fork in the road. You have discovered something about yourself and learned how to be more effective. This was supposed to happen. There are no coincidences in life. Something had to get you to go to such a workshop. Maybe the purpose of your existing employment was to lead you to do this and begin an awakening process for you.

      As you become more aware, you become more dissatisfied. What you were unhappy about before has now become magnified through the new windows you are looking out of. You are right in the middle of a “fork in the road” process that will guide you to a choice. Feeling lost, unsure and uncomfortable are all normal at this point. You are growing which has led you to start thinking about a change.

      This leads to some questions you need to ask yourself. What is the likelihood these people will change? If by some miracle they did change, would you feel any different about them? Would the boredom go away? Would you become energized and excited about your work?

      What do you really want? What type of people do you want to be working with? What type of values, human relations approaches, leadership, vision and organization dynamics would make up an ideal place for you to work? Contrast this ideal against the place where you now work and the likelihood it would move in that direction.

      What would you do even if you weren’t paid to do it? What are you so passionate about you would rather do that than anything else? What would give you the greatest sense of personal satisfaction and achievement? What would bring joy to your life? Is there any possibility your existing workplace could give you this or anything close to it?

      Don’t rush this process or become impatient because you are in an unsure state. Ask these questions and a hundred more you might come up with. Let your reflections seep down inside of you. Allow your inner self to do its work in its own way. Trust yourself. The answer will become apparent and you will know it is the answer.

      Usually, when a real answer (as opposed to just a feeling) emerges (except in emergency or threatening situations), there appears to be some common experiences people have from what I have learned so far. People talk about a feeling of relief, happiness, joy or a heavy weight being removed from them. It feels right at a very deep level. The fear of the unknown is replaced with a deeper knowing.

      They may also talk about a sudden jolting realization. You have already had that from those meetings/events. That initial response led to your conflicted feelings, taking the workshop and more. Simply allow yourself to continue being guided down this path that will lead to illumination and the best choice for you.

      When all this works out, please return here and share with us the complete story so others can learn from it.

    • Kelly Ketelboeter


      “Waiting For Inner Voice”, there is no doubt that you are in a difficult situation. Like many of us at some point, you are searching for answers to questions. As you continue to search for the answers you will find those questions will continue to be unanswered which creates at times an unbearable cycle. In my experience, the answers to the questions you are looking for will come once you take action. Until we take action we will only have more unanswered questions. Once you choose to take action the answers to all your questions and then some will come flooding to you.

      Don has provided brilliant insights and excellent questions for you to ponder. The one thing that helped me the most when I was faced with my situation was to evaluate my values. Once I began to focus on my values I looked for proof within the organization that I was in fact in the right place. What I found was that I was engaged in an environment and organization that violated my values. Once that was clear to me I knew deep down what I had to do. I will not sacrifice my values for anyone or anything. So what’s most important to you? What do you value? Are those things present or absent in your current situation? Is that something you can live with and feel good about? My values are my compass in life and everything I do flows to and from them. Gaining clarity allowed me to follow my fork in the road regardless of my unanswered questions.

      It’s nearly impossible to predict why people do the things they do. And it’s next to impossible to change them. The only in our control is us and the choices we make. You have a choice and you have voice. No one can take that away from you.

      I strongly believe that everything in life happens to us for a reason and that there is a grand plan for us. The reasons aren’t always revealed to us right away but we will see it sooner or later. You took those classes for a reason. Your interactions with leadership have happened for a reason. You were led to Don and my fork in the road story for a reason.

      You can either let life unfold in front of you or you can unfold the life before you. I hope this helps you in some way. Please let me know what I can do to support you as you begin to take action.


  • Brie


    When you mention “those in charge don’t think highly enough of you in certain ways to let you inside further”. How did this come about and how can one change it. I feel just like Kelly. Is it strong & confident that may cause this with those in charge.?

  • Don Shapiro Post author

    Hi Brie,

    You have raised some great questions. Thanks for sharing. Oh, I’ve asked those same questions myself. The reasons those in charge won’t let you closer in or include you in the loop varies as much as people vary.

    There is no one reason or even a predominate reason this occurs. Yes, sometimes you have an insecure or fearful person in charge who is threatened by a strong, confident “make it happen” person reporting to them. Sometimes its a personality clash. Sometimes its politics.

    Sometimes someone has people they have worked with for years or decades who they trust. Everyone else is outside that inner circle. You can really see this one during the “changing of the guards” as I call it. That’s when a key person leaves and is replaced by someone new. They don’t know anyone on the current staff and feel more comfortable bringing along their trusted sidekicks that have worked with them before.

    Sometimes it’s cultural in the broadest sense. A rough around the edges, football loving, everyday kind of guy may tend to prefer others like himself (both male and female). People like to deal with people they can relate to at their level and feel comfortable with. That’s human nature.

    Are you beginning to sense just how difficult it is for someone to be a great leader? They have to rise above all of the above and many other human inclinations to see the potential in everyone working for them and finding the key to bring it out for the good of all. Oh, how we all long to work for someone like that!

    So, what do you do about all this? You have to discover what is really going on as best as possible. Until you know that, your just rolling the dice at what to do. Start by listing everything you know and have observed about this person however trivial.

    What type of personality do they have? Who do they favor and who do they barely tolerate? Why do you feel that is? What are their personal interest, hobbies, sports, etc.? What photos, mementos, artwork and such are in their office? How do they usually dress and what does that say?

    Pay huge attention to how they talk, what words they choose, what they tend to talk more about, what gets them to run at the mouth, what causes them to clam up? How fast or slow do they talk? What is their style of communication?

    Some of this you will know instantly. Some of it you are aware of but haven’t paid much attention to. You will be surprised how thorough a profile you can create just from what you have experienced and can easily observe. If you are missing information, is there anyway you might ask casual questions at the appropriate point in a conversation to bring some out (not an inquisition…a subtle weaving of questions naturally into a conversation).

    Get a deep sense of what this person is like and what they respond favorably to. Borrowing from Neurolingustic Programming, mirror their rate and style of speech as well as body language when you talk with them. People feel more comfortable with people like themselves. That doesn’t mean you need to change who you are. This is just a way to get inside them to figure out what is going on and see if you can get them to warm up to you.

    The ultimate answers come out of going through this process. You will learn things about them and about yourself. This is just a big experiment. You will get a much clearer idea about what you want and don’t want for yourself and if you would ever be happy working with this person even if things improved.

    Don’t box yourself into a place where you set a goal that will you absolutely make things work for you where you are now. You have no control over others. Maybe what you do will change things for the best where you are. Maybe they will allow your inner wisdom to guide you down a different path.

    Please feel free to share whatever you are learning as you try various things. And, of course, feel free to ask as many questions as you want. Let me know what happens. Maybe you will discover things that you will want to share as your own “fork” story.

  • Brie

    What a great and thorough explanation!! Thank you!!!

    I have been so angry like Kelly at working very hard with little gain. Angry about those who are in charge who delegate their work, socialize at meetings and they get the promotions. While you work long hours to make sure your work is excellent. You tend to focus on “I will begin to delegate that too”.

    Your explanation of how you get included or excluded is insightful and can help in your personal life as well. I also can see now how it is difficult to be a great leader and I do understand the changing of the guards and having “their people” around. I see it all the time in my business. I agree that we all definitely long for a leader like that to work under and gain leadership skills.

    It appears that a good leader needs to learn to be the Chameleon. I will continue to share my experiences in order to help others as well….

  • Judi

    Years ago I worked as a Nuclear Medicine Technician in a very small department. It was just the Dr. and me – that small. I was young and very inexperienced in handling people who brow beat and used intimidation to try and control. Because he was the only Nuclear Med Dr in the county he went between several hospitals leaving me alone, but he endeavored to maintain his control by calling-constantly and when I didn’t answer because I was answering the call to go to the bathroom he would begin his tirade. His wife would call him constantly and ask permission for the most menial task. Every night I would go home in tears and pray that God would move me, him or give me the strength to stand up to him. That day came when he began to endlessly question be about how I came to a conclusion regarding the strength of the medicine we were going to use. After I dug out my work and showed it to him he looked me in the eyes and said “are you afraid of me?” With every ounce of strength that God gave me at that point I said “NO I’M NOT!” I so sounded stronger than the trembling mouse that was inside me. He looked a bit shocked and then his face relaxed and he smiled. From that day on we worked together as a team and he expressed his sadness when the day came that I moved out of the state.

  • waiting_for_inner_voice

    This conversation is really helping me process the situation instead of pulling my hair out. Yes Don, I would like for everything to work out where I’m at because I am in a “comfortable” situation, but comfort can also be crippling. I’ve also invested many years into a career that demands time in exchange for financial restitution. I’m paid very well. And yes, I long for respect. I am wondering if my expectations are reasonable when it comes to respect, invitations, involvement.

    It was hard to read that this might be about me: “don’t like, don’t trust, can’t relate, can’t see me in a role.” I can’t accept these premises completely simply based on the fact that they hired me and praise my work. Unfortunately, I tend to make this situation a personal issue rather than seeing this as a projection of their reality or their limitations.

    I love my field and yet I’m in an “unbearable cycle.” The word cycle ignites some fear, as compared to an unbearable situation, because this situation is feeling cyclical. I’m willing to do the work to make the situation better or break a cycle and feel that I’ve already immersed myself in that work.

    I’ve copied the questions from Don’s and Kelly’s post and intend to use those for some guided reflection. Other questions or resources you can provide will be helpful as I attempt to coach myself through this.

    Kelly’s questions about whether the organization will change will be tough especially since we have multiple levels of new leadership. A part of me wants to stick it out with this new leadership. I see the emerging vision. I want to be apart of it. In the meantime, how do I stay motivated? How will I handle the possibility of another change in the role or in my role? Will I be able to let go of any negative feelings I have?

    There is a message repeating itself in my mind: fresh start, fresh start, fresh start. And then another message rises: wherever you go, there you are, so be courageous, do the work and stay the course.

    I’d like to add that I haven’t lost respect for the leaders and for the organization as I stated above. I have a lot of respect for the individuals and for the challenging roles they fulfill.