“[T]he best way out is always through." - Robert Frost
Apologies in advance- normally I post on purely product management topics, but today’s post is somewhat rambling and personal as well.
Those who know me personally know that I am a distance runner, through and through. There’s little more I love than getting out on a trail or the road for a few hours at a time and just letting my mind and legs go. A few days ago I started a new challenge: 10 miles a day for 10 consecutive days. I’ve run longer distances, I’ve run much longer races, I’ve even had higher mileage weeks, but for some reason this feels like one of the hardest challenges I’ve undertaken in some time. There’s something uniquely hard about running a medium/long distance knowing that tomorrow you’re going to wake up and do it again. This morning I crossed the 25% mark of completing this— some days I have to split 10 miles into 2x 5 mile runs due to time.
During this morning’s run something came to me. In the last year or so I moved from being a product manager to a senior product manager to running the whole product unit of my company and reporting to the CEO. I’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on how I was able to move from one role to the other quickly and easily. I don’t consider myself the best product manager in the world- I still am growing and learning every single day. (Note: Those that consider themselves the best product people in the world usually aren’t.) What makes for great product managers and product leaders is their willingness to grind.
The truth of product management, whether at the associate level or the very senior level, that no one seems to talk about is that what separates the great from the average is endurance. The willingness to dive into the details of very tough projects and stick them out until the solution is right. Most new products will fail. Even many iterations will fail. Listening to customers helps those odds, but the odds are still stacked against you. The path to being great comes through endurance.