The "it's not about me" mindset
As Tony Robin always says, emotions determine the quality of our life. Extending that to product management, emotions determine the quality of our job as a PM. We all go through a wide range of emotions on a given day. Certain emotions are conducive to the role, and others aren’t.
For instance, feeling optimistic, validated, challenged, or even moderately stressed energizes me to do a better job, think clearly, and deliver better value. On the other hand, emotions like self-doubt, demotivation, or regret impair my productivity, muddle my vision, and detract me from my goals. But I don't control my feelings (or so I used to think) - they are triggered by events or external circumstances, and once they set in, I just wait them out. For example, when my product is making the right impact, I am elated and encouraged to do better work. But when things go south, I sulk in emotions that take me further down.
But I slowly realize that it's not the events that trigger these emotions - it's the meaning we attribute to them. Most negative emotions derive from a human need to feel significant. It's "about me" so I need to protect, preserve and fight for what I want. On the flip side, positive emotions derive from another, more evolved, primal need - which is to give, serve and help. And once you recognize this, you can choose which need you want to address to trigger the right emotions. In other words, you can influence and select emotions that work in your favor*.
And based on this learning, I have been applying a tool that helps me set the right emotions. Every time I go into a negative spiral, I remind myself that it's not about me - I am here to serve. This mantra is an instant cure to channel my emotions in the right direction, regardless of my situation.
This concept can be best explained through the classic scenario-based example table that we PMs love.
See the difference? We often flow through a blend of the two mindsets. We are wired to dwell in both. But choosing the right mindset helps us to ask the right questions. And the right questions always drive the right actions.
In closing, feeling significant is a fundamental human need. It's a force for creativity and growth. But at its worse, it can limit our impact and hurt our emotional well-being along the way. Another, more evolved human need is to serve, help and give. And when we shift our focus from the "it's about me" need to the "I am here to serve" need, we immediately transform our emotions that, in turn, improve the quality of our job and help those around us.
*This learning was formalized when I participated in the "Unleash the Power Within" webinar by Tony Robbins.