Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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My example, my hero

My heart is heavy as I write this article; my father passed away a few days ago. I’ve been thinking about Dad and the important lessons he taught me, both when I was growing up and lived with him in my childhood home, and in the years since. He was an honest, hard-working, humble man. He was always happy and loved to crack jokes—I didn’t think they were funny when I was a teenager, but now I find myself doing the same thing with my sons.

Though I don’t think it was ever his specific intent, he taught my siblings and me – and many others in the community – how to lead in whatever we pursued. Here are three important lessons that have helped me get to where I’m at today:

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Why you should make your bed

If you want to change your life, and maybe the world, you need to see things through different eyes. The simple things in life—things that we don’t always see right in front of us—make all the difference.

It may seem unreasonable to focus on the little things when there are so many big issues that demand your attention. This focus on the little things sets you up for success when it comes to tackling the big things.

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Building trust with your customers

One of the key elements to business success is customer engagement. When you have customers that are excited about your products or services, your business grows and you prosper.

As good as it sounds (and you know this), building trust with your customer base is hard work. It takes effort and perseverance. It takes time. It’s an investment that will pay dividends if you give it the focus it needs.

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Creating a culture of persistence

We live in a world that makes it increasingly easy to justify failures and abdicate responsibility. Too often the news trumpets the reasons why certain groups don’t get what they want, and they showcase how those in authority are responsible for others’ shortcomings.

While there are certainly injustices in world today, successful individuals don’t let them affect how hard they work or what steps they take to progress. Capable leaders keep doing the right things for their teams and their customers. They persist through difficulties, and in the process, they create a culture of persistence.

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The value of hard work and perseverance

Recently I was reminded of a story about a young man who lived during the 1849 Gold Rush. An older, wiser man observed him passing by obvious ‘flecks’ of gold in the stream, and asked him why. The young man said he was searching for the big ‘nuggets’ of gold. The old man pulled out his pouch and said “The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”

What are the ‘flecks’ of gold that you are passing by in life? Are you looking for the big victory, but missing out on the many small wins that will bring you more happiness and success? Life-long accomplishment comes from the small, consistent wins along the way.

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Why leadership is an endurance race

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to truly prepare for a marathon is to train, to practice, to run. You need to get out on the road. You need to put in the miles. It takes time, it takes effort, and sometimes it hurts a lot.

As the great marathon runner Juma Ikanga said after winning the New York Marathon: “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.” You can want to win more than anyone else in the world, yet if you do not put in the work, it will not matter.

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