The Product Hero — Challenge your mind to face your arch-nemesis

The core of product management is you!

You are at the center of the Mind the Product Venn diagram

In the UK 1 in 6 have a mental illness. In the world, 1 in 26 suffers from depression. We are not immune to this as product managers. Our job was reported to be overwhelming and emotionally taxing in the latest ProductPlan survey.

I want to strip away the tools, processes, and techniques, so we can focus on the core of product management. But today I want to share an alternate reality of my product management career.

The Arch-Nemesis

“It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.”

Siddhartha Gautama

Who do you think is your arch-nemesis? Four years ago, I had to face my arch-nemesis.

In the UK 1 in 6 have a mental illness. In the world, 1 in 26 suffers from depression. I was the “1” in both of those statistics. I had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction and severe depression throughout my life and my product management career.

I had never learnt to deal with my anxieties as a child and had created bad habits to deal with them. They were an escape from the pain. This created a dependence on my habit loop (“Atomic Habits” by James Clear).

  1. Cue — Feeling anxious
  2. Craving — Food, since food made me feel better in the past
  3. Response — Eat food
  4. Reward — Short term of not feeling anxious, but feeds into my arch nemesis.

My addiction to food, wasn’t a food addiction, it was an addiction to numb the pain or an escape. As I grew up it shifted from food, to impulse buying, work and more. Many of my colleagues were unaware and my addiction was costing me my health, money and my life. To the outside world, I was happy with a house, a family and a great career. Until one day I lost everything and had to face the truth.

In 2017 I had admitted I had an addiction problem to those close to me. I was facing a life of recovery, on my own, with all my possession in a black bin back and a single suitcase. I spent a year continuing to work while living in Airbnb and on an airbed at a friends house. But I used my strengths to recover.

  • Learner — I read books about the mind and habits. I said yes to everything to find out what delighted me and what didn’t. I went to therapy to understand why I did the things I did.
  • Arranger — I used all the information to become self-aware of who I was and how I acted. Also, how people perceived me from my actions.
  • Positivity — I created a plan to become a better version of myself. I created a roadmap with a vision, themes and a new year’s resolution.
  • Achiever — I executed the roadmap with habit tracking, to-do lists. I wanted to create great habits and continue to improve. I have succeeded 3 years in a row after failing so many times
  • Includer — I want to inspire others to be a better version of themselves and decided to write “The Product Hero” as a talk.

I am now healthy, happy and content with what I have. I have a safe home, I’m close to my family and friends and a strong bond with my daughter who I had never been able to connect with while I was suffering.

For those who are suffering there is always hope. I overcame my arch nemesis by:

  • Becoming self-aware of who I was
  • Asked for help when needed. I needed professional help to overcome my arch nemesis
  • Defined a journey to be a better version of me
  • My engine is my habits. I now eat our of passion, to fuel my body, as a celebration.

Be the hero

We all can become the Product Hero. The core of product management is you.

  1. Discover yourself to become stronger and achieve our goals.
  2. Develop relationships with the team to lead and inspire them.
  3. Challenge the mind to achieve your full potential.

References

I will share the slides once I have delivered the talks to a few Product Tanks in the UK. Here are the books I have read and recommend:

Challenge the mind:

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