The Importance of Unlearning in Leadership

Unlearning tasks


If you were here for our January book club, you may remember one of the most important lessons from Jon Acuff’s book Finish. Dropping the ball where necessary.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this leadership tactic, Jon describes the key to finishing things you start: Choosing what tasks you’re going to drop in order to excel at the tasks that are most valuable.

The idea is to write down all of the things you’re currently doing that will not help you finish your current goal(s). Those are the things you’re choosing not to be good at while you’re working on something more important. Because you simply can’t excel at everything!

For example, if you’re in the process of writing a book, you might decide it’s time to be bad at blogging consistently during this season. You don’t have to be bad at it forever, but you do have to prioritize.

It’s the same with unlearning. In an article by Fast Company, unlearning is described as “identifying the things you know that you don’t have time to nurture, and then letting some of them go.”

Business professional Dom Price makes unlearning a part of his quarterly routine. He makes a list of the tasks that are valuable, tasks he wants to learn, and tasks he loathes. The valuable tasks are here to stay, and he evaluates how he can incorporate the things he’d like to learn. And then tasks he loathes — tasks that are not valuable or have become unnecessary — he unlearns.

“These are things that don’t pay a dividend,” says Price. “They’re habits formed over time. They used to pay dividends and be valuable, but they’re not useful to me now, and won’t be in the future … I would keep things because they were already there, and then I would add more things in. I was in meetings all day and doing work at night. It was not sustainable.”

What are you doing out of habit because you haven’t taken the time to evaluate if it’s a valuable use of your time? Just because parts of your routine were once important to your growth doesn’t mean they’re still adding the same value.

Just because parts of your routine were once important to your growth doesn’t mean they’re still adding the same value. Click To Tweet

I encourage you to take out your planner, Google calendar, whatever it is you use to track your day, and make a similar list as Dom Price. As you identify those non-valuable tasks, start the process of unlearning.




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