The Best Career Advice I’ve Ever Gotten: Unlearn What you Hate
I was totally nailing it as an Account Executive. I knew the answers to things people asked me, and I knew how to solve problems that hit my desk. Solving problems as an Account Executive often meant fixing (or doing) other people’s work. It wasn’t that hard for me since I had worked across other departments at a previous gig.
- Needed social analytics? No problem.
- Timeline for an app build? Yup.
- Social strategy for a partnership activation? Done.
- Working with accounting to fix a P&L? Sure thing.
Right after a promotion and acquiring some new responsibilities, my former manager pulled me aside and gave me the best advice of my career:
Unlearn what you hate doing. If you don’t know how to do it, you won’t be asked to.
I didn’t know what to do with the advice at first, because I wasn’t sure what I could unlearn. I had to know how to do job of the person reporting to me right? Wrong.
Those “no problems” and “sure things” started to morph into “the new AE can help you with that” and “I’m not sure how invoicing works, ask accounting”. It was weird in the beginning but it was the first step in both embracing my new role and allowing other team members to grow. In what is probably ironic — it required feeling secure enough to let go.
Instead of being the go-to person for everything, I became the go-to person in areas I wanted to grow in. I hated our new finance back-end, so I unlearned how to open a PO and leaned on an AE. Same with the headache of booking conference rooms for client meetings. I slowly unlearned how to do these things and instead focused on what I was good at — solving problems. Ultimately, unlearning these things allowed me to realize that I wanted to move back into a more strategic role as I stopped being “busy” with things I just genuinely didn’t like about account services. Win-Win.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do your job — but maybe you should be letting other people do what they love, which may be what you hate.