The Best Career Advice I Ever Got

It’s 5 AM. I woke up earlier than usual this morning, roused by the sound of my dog throwing up. Not the greatest way to meet the day, but luckily, I love her.

Love makes vomit easier to handle.

Love makes vomit easier to handle.

Speaking of vomit...

Four years ago, I was moving from startup to startup, confused about my future but leaning into the roles I thought others valued. In the middle of the confusion, I had lunch with a wise friend. An artist and actor, she knows how to read people, and she knew me well. I remember we were eating brunch in San Francisco, near the water, a view of the Bay Bridge before us. I was telling her about my latest job:

“I think it will be good. I am in charge of figuring out how to break engineering work into manageable cycles while working with the operations team to make sure our products are aligned with their expectations.”

My friend got a confused look on her face. Her response was immediate and to the point. In a direct and loving way, she said, “Meredith, don’t you think you might need to be a little more creative in your role? I remember how happy you were working on videos in your past job. You loved that.”

I trust Molly. When it comes to creativity, she knows what she's talking about.

I trust Molly. When it comes to creativity, she knows what she's talking about.

It’s incredible how much a single question can affect the course of your life. I thought long and hard about what she said. Over the next couple of years, I slowly righted the ship. I started by building Beautiful Voyager, an experience that reminded me of my core strengths. These days, I’m happy and secure in a creative role at a larger company I love.

There you have it. The advice that wasn’t advice, but a question. I asked the Beautiful Voyager community to share the best advice they’ve ever received. Here’s what one person said:

The best career advice I was ever given was actually through an NPR interview with the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely.  She advised “whenever you can afford to do so, delegate the things you aren't good at.”

Though this seems like basic business acumen, it was an eye-opener for me.  As a business owner who is also a perfectionistic overachiever and control seeker, the idea of delegating is scary.  Once I accepted myself and chose to trust others, the process of feeling safe through delegation began.  Of course, finding people who share the passion for our business and services was essential, and now that we have them, my anxiety (and overthinking!) has been relatively put to rest.

I love that it came from the Spanx founder! Trusting others is incredible advice. Thank you for sharing. Here’s another:

The best advice that I ever got was personal rather than professional and it also came in the form of a question.  It was about 10 years ago and I was having lunch with some friends. After mentioning that I was once again returning to counseling because of my depression and issues related to my marriage, one of my friends asked, “If you had to do it over, would you marry your husband?” When I said that I wouldn’t, he asked, “Then why are you still with him?” 

It’s wonderful how direct questions asked by a dear friend can give a girl the kick in the pants that she needs. Because of that question (and the unwavering support of that handful of friends), I found the strength to leave an emotionally-abusive marriage after 17 years, move to another state, and start over.

Do you have your own story to share? Write it in the comments and share your insights with others! It just feels good to help.