Building software platforms and applications that customers love, and will recommend to their peers, takes extreme focus and hard work. There are many moving parts to product success, including understanding your market and the problems customers in the market face, and building solutions that solve those problems.
Successful product leaders understand the value of both strategy and execution: Strategynecessary for building products that perform well into the future. Execution requires the focus and discipline to do things now for near-term product releases.
How do you succeed in both of these two seemingly dissimilar aspects of product management?
One of the key objectives of Lead on Purpose is to provide ideas and motivation to my readers to help you improve your success, regardless of your area(s) of focus. When I find things that help, I share them.
What do highly successful people do differently than others? They talk, think and approach challenges differently. They think about money differently. They are motivated in ways that are not common or natural to most people.
The word ‘channel’ has various and differing meanings. I grew up on a ranch, and we had to get water to the grass and to the cattle. My dad and grandpa built ditches and canals to channel the water to specific places for specific uses. We had three TV channels that brought news and content into our lives from the outside world. There were cables and wires to channel electricity, in the right amount, to lights, appliances and other devices.
“Discipline equals freedom.” This statement sounds like a contradiction because the word ‘discipline’ is most often used in the context of punishment or reining in improper behavior. In leadership, however, discipline creates power. Discipline leads to more flexibility and control over your every aspect of your life. Discipline creates great leaders.
“When we learn how to cultivate a fearless mind, we can achieve whatever we set out to accomplish.” According to Dr. Craig Manning, author of The Fearless Mind: 5 Essential Steps to Higher Performance, a ‘fearless mind’ is achieved when we have cleansed ourselves of the barriers that prevent us from reaching our greatest potential. We do this by learning to accept what we have control over (and what we do not). When we understand this we are able to channel our energy into mastering those aspects that we have direct responsibility for, and not wasting energy (emotional, mental, or physical) on those things that are outside our control.
Dr. Manning played tennis throughout his youth, in college (on scholarship) and as a professional. However, through an interesting series of events – which he describes in the book – he discovered his true passion was helping others become masters of their sport. He’s helped athletes in tennis, skiing and track and field become champions. In the book he uses stories from sports to help people in any profession achieve much higher levels of performance.
The Fearless Mind helps you master those aspects of your life that you can control. Dr. Manning takes you through five steps to help you achieve higher performance:
Step 1 – Motivation: The will to keep trying, and the will to win are critical to success. Motivation is fixed in behavior, and behavior is rooted in one of two forms: task or ego. Task-oriented behavior is focused on performance, here and now. Ego-oriented individuals focus on how outcomes affect their self-worth. Motivation is guided by one of these two outcomes. Task-oriented behavior is the key to becoming a master.
Step 2 – Anxiety: Anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” When we don’t feel like we have control, anxiety increases significantly. Is anxiety bad? Not if we learn how to channel it positively. It can provide us with the energy to get things done much more quickly and efficiently.
Step 3 – Concentration: Concentration is referred to as “attention control” or the discipline to focus on what is relevant, and ignore everything that is irrelevant. Concentration is absolutely critical to becoming a championship athlete or master of whatever you endeavor to achieve.
Step 4 – Confidence: Confidence is a feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. Self-confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgment. Many people confuse self-confidence with arrogance – they are very different behaviors. You cannot have too much self-confidence; store up as much as you can to help you in the difficult moments.
Step 5 – Decision Making: “No individual is destined for greatness. We achieve high performance only through hard work…and a fearless mind.” Making correct decisions is important at every stage of development, whether you’re an athlete or a CEO. Becoming disciplined at task-oriented behavior will instill within us the ability to make correct decisions at every point along the way. Disciplined decision makers become masters.
These principles will set you on the course to success. I highly recommend this book to help you gain mastery over your life. Dr. Manning’s five steps will help you focus on what you need to change to become a master. Don’t hesitate, get a copy of the book and begin developing a fearless mind.
Full disclosure: I know Dr. Manning and consider him a dear friend. His teachings and influence are making a considerable impact on my son’s efforts to become a championship ballroom dancer.
— The Product Management Perspective: Product managers deal with a myriad of tasks and distractions every day, and the sheer volume often seems overwhelming. Can you become a ‘master’ product manager? Yes, you can if you focus on the right things. The “right things” will differ from one product (or company) to another; the key is having a fearless mind and being a fearless leader. The five steps in The Fearless Mind will help you master the role of product manager. As a side note, I highly recommend Dr. Manning’s podcast on Live on Purpose Radio.