Continuing thoughts from the post 13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful. Today points 7-13, including multi-tasking & distractions, so a bit of levity first.
7. Give Up Your Perfectionism – Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.
[PH thoughts] – Winston Churchill made the point perfection is the enemy of progress. In our world as Product Management leaders, I couldn’t agree more. Even if you come up with what you think is the perfect strategic plan, assumptions and/or the market will quickly change. As soon as the direction and subsequent roadmap is agreed upon, something comes along and changes it. Which is why I am a believer in the Agile approach and responding to change over following a plan. Which is a good approach, but also isn’t perfect :).
I have found that plans need to be sound, but they will never be perfect.
8. Give Up Multi-tasking- Choose one thing and then beat it into submission. Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.
[PH thoughts] – Admittedly, this one is challenging. Even now as I look at my to-do list, there are at least five different priorities clamoring for my attention. Like it or not, it is one of the realities of being a Product Management leader.
But simultaneously solving for all of them at once isn’t feasible, so just like the author states … focus on one and beat it into submission. The danger here is over analysis … so don’t forget to look back at the previous item. It will never be perfect, but what works for me is to ensure I have focused, dedicated time to concentrate on a particular task and advance it to a point where I am comfortable socializing the result with key stakeholders. Once you achieve this, move on to the next priority.
Interestingly, I used to joke about an old boss being like the Eye of Sauron. For a number of days, his eye would turn and focus intently (and sometimes uncomfortably) on a specific business area or problem. Only when he was satisfied would the attention turn elsewhere. Looking back, I can see know he was beating the priority into submission.
I have found that while the role requires us to have many priorities, the necessity to have focused, dedicated efforts against one at a time is critical.
9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything – Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to control is your attitude towards something.
[PH thoughts] – I would imagine many in the Product Management role are driven individuals … myself included. So the desire to do something and do it well is innate. And like me, I’m sure you’ve felt the need to do something yourself (e.g. – control it) rather than entrusting it to someone else because you felt a) you could do it better or b) you could get it done faster.
Like I said, I believe this is natural for someone drawn to this role. The challenge is it simply isn’t sustainable if you want to evolve from a doer to a leader.
I have found that giving up control is much harder than it seems, but the rewards of having a high performing team make it worth it.
10. Give Up On Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals – In the short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will all be worth it.
As product management leaders we are never at a shortage of good ideas or requests from friends, engineering, executives, partners, etc. But just because they are good ideas, does it mean they should be pursued? Does it fit within already agreed upon goals? Is it consistent with your distinctive competence? Will it further the vision for your product/solution and enable market leadership? Or are is it a distraction, noise, rabbit trail, or squirrels which will cause you to deviate from your original purpose?
I watched this video featuring Steve Jobs a long time ago, and I love the quote towards the end of …
Focus is about saying no … and the result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts. – Steve Jobs
I have found that focusing on the good often times comes at the expense of what could have been great.
11. Give Up The Toxic People – But if you spend time with people who are more accomplished than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will become more successful.
[PH thoughts] – Wow, pretty blunt! But true nonetheless. There is a saying bad company corrupts good character … it is the same idea behind the one rotten apple spoils the lot saying. To look at it from the opposite perspective, think about this quote from Jeff Weiner … In simplest terms possible, the people I most enjoy working with dream big, get sh*t done, and know how to have fun … you simply cannot accomplish this with toxic people.
I have found that it is impossible to completely eliminate toxic people from your life, but it is completely possible to choose not to be influenced or negatively affected by them.
12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked – The only thing you can do is to remain authentic, improve and provide value every day, and know that the growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.
[PH thoughts] – Bottom line … you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Despite your best intentions, your best efforts, or your best rationale for a decision there will be those who don’t understand, don’t appreciate, or don’t agree. Often times it can be personal, but sometimes it is as simple as your efforts not fully supporing their desired outcomes or goals.
I have found that this particular leadership lesson can be extremely disappointing personally, but completely necessary professionally.
13. Give Up Your Dependency on Social Media & Television – Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimise (or even eliminate) your dependency on them, and direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.
[PH thoughts] – I had a previous post focusing on Distractions from Being Intentional. But where I had talked about being intentional to remain productive, this concept takes it to a whole new level. And I agree. Many things in life can and absolutely will suck time away, and there is nothing to show for it afterwards … time never recovered. You’ll have to decide what those time wasters are in your own life … I know what they can be in mine … and I have to remain diligent to keep this kind of perspective!
One example to prove the point. On occasion I enjoy breaking away for a little Star Wars Battlefront action on the xBox. But it can be easy to lose several hours in a night without realizing it. There is nothing inherently wrong with this activity (or others of your own choosing), sometimes I just need the escape for a bit. But also have to remind myself the time could have been spent reading, or playing board games with my wife, or doing something with my kids, etc.
I have found that distractions/escape/entertainment are sometimes necessary in moderation, but balance can easily be thrown off if you aren’t careful.