What I learned
Failure of ineptitude is painful but avoidable.
The Checklist Manifesto is one of my favorite books. The author, Atul Gawande, teaches about 2 types of failure: “Failures of ignorance we can forgive. If the knowledge of the best thing to do in a given situation does not exist, we are happy to have people simply make their best effort. But if the knowledge exists and is not applied correctly, it is difficult not to be infuriated.”
Both documentation to follow and people to apprentice can be critical tools for overcoming failure of ineptitude. This is why my favorite advice to students is to find someone to learn from and do anything you can to watch them work. It gives you support to not just know how to do something but to understand how things actually work.
Thanks to my friend, Ryan Jenkins, for reminding me of this concept earlier this week.
This week I finished listening to the book Relentless by Tim Grover, the guy who helped Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and other top basketball all-stars get to the top and stay there. While I didn’t appreciate the vulgarity throughout the book, the mental attitude he teaches is incredible.
Tim’s advice centers on 1. the mindset that you can and 2. the choice to sacrifice whatever it takes to get what you want. Incredible that some of the best in the world still work harder than anyone else. Kobe Bryant would regularly be on the court far before others, getting in a full workout as others were just coming to an early 7 am practice.
While the message was a valuable look in the mirror about my work ethic and a chance to recommit to habits I want to espouse, I took slightly different lessons from the book than many others might have.
For teams, it’s critical to remember that just putting your nose to the grindstone won’t help if you have a poor strategy or your team isn’t aligned to the strategy. Stopping to assess direction is incredibly important. Too many product teams I work with skip over completely or forget to spend regular time redefining what outputs matter to them. It’s why almost every team I work with needs better strategic roadmaps to stop wasting time.
It’s easy to think about being relentless at a visible pursuit (career, money, hobbies, sports, just working harder …). It can be trickier to be relentless when it comes to things that are less visible or won’t show fruit for a long time (parenting, integrity, faith, marriage, kindness, working on the right things …). While I personally have gains to make from working harder, I never want that to overshadow what’s truly important in my life.
My faith and my family easily outweigh any professional success I will ever achieve.
What I published
Be kind, even in your work (LinkedIn Video)
Product managers are NOT the CEO of the product.
They are the quarterback.
– Central conduit for communication
– Focus on helping everyone work together to deliver value
– Primarily focused on the end goal (user value)
– Don’t call all the plays, but do call some
– Blamed often
What are your favorite agile myths?
Most product teams spend too much time on features too deep in their funnel to make real impact.
Most product managers spend too much time helping the team build, and not enough time helping the team figure out what needs to be built.
Project management is more like mining an existing quarry.
Product management is more like trying to find oil.
They are very different. Apply only what works in a quarry to trying to find the oil, and you’ll end up stressed out with nothing to show.
Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 1000th will be great.
Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong.
Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused.
Put in your reps.
Being a founder you have to be on offense much more than defense.
Big companies make it easier for many roles to be defensive. You spend more time in meetings scheduled by someone else, honing your productivity system, and sitting inside.
Go out. Talk to others. Create.
Knowing what you want is the secret to success in marriage and work.
It’s much harder than it seems to figure out what you actually want.
When you really want something, it means you will not just think you want it or say you want it … you will do what it takes to get it.
What have you been learning about?
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