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Lesson Learnt in 2021

Mudassir Mustafa
Mudassir Mustafa
5 min read
Lesson Learnt in 2021

Table of Contents

2021 has been a monumental year for me, both personally and professionally. I got married, launched multiple products in a single year, and started my youtube channel, and my blog. It's a great feeling to close a year like this but I can say that personally I never had so much pressure and crazy nights as I had in 2021. As the saying goes ‘Diamonds are formed under extreme pressure’ I think I have learned stuff that normally would have taken multiple years. I kid you not when I say I was on the verge of mental breakdown and I lost a lot of health as well. Thats a story for another day.

Let’s cut the chase short and share what brought you to this page. Here are the lessons that I have learned over the past year. Disclaimer, I work as a Head of Program so these learnings are might be related to some of the senior people but hey, learn whatever you can.

Let go of the vine

I developed the habit of reading books this year as well. I am currently reading a masterpiece by Gino Wickman 'Traction' and I would say it's a must-have for all business owners. This lesson is from a chapter of this book. As an entrepreneur, it's vital for you to grow as an individual but guess what's more important? Grow as a leader. From personal experience, lots of CEOs and Business owners lack this core skill. What Gino argues resonated with me. People are just not ready to let go of things, they have a hard time doing it. They hire a team of people so damn competent but would prefer doing it all by themselves. I got two words for you 'Stop It.' Let people do their jobs. Trust them, groom them and empower them if you want to grow.

Lessons Learned in 2021 

Accountability is the key

Even though the media has ragged this term throughout the year but no denying it. I'll share my personal experience. We launched a product a few weeks ago, it took hundreds of working hours, half a dozen teams, and $100k plus to get that product out there. Immense pressure. We missed deadlines, our estimates had loopholes, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. When we did a retrospective of everything, an underlying cause for a lot of these failures was 'You never held people accountable.' Now that could be because we never shared the expectations with everyone, or we didn't follow up - we suffered.

Trust takes time

Let me tell you something very personal. There are million other things in life that are probably more important than a job. It is just a job. Just 8/24 hours and 33.33% of your day. It should be like that. I thought everyone will work like a crazy idiot to get things done - well, surprise, surprise. I thought I trusted everyone enough to get the job done the reality is it's just a job for everyone else. People lacked determination, and commitment and I was continuously furious at them. We have never worked together before and I trusted everyone too soon when I stopped following up on their work - considering whatever they are doing, it's with responsibility. That was and is never the case.

Processes and Systems

Ever heard that 'Losers and winners have the same goals? But just different processes and systems.' Thats is absolutely correct. I overlooked that part, I wanted to build a great product and create the best culture - but no process or system to support it. And it has caused havoc.

Determine the right question to solve

I wrote a blog post last week 'The questions we ask tell everything about us.' This was the reason behind it. I have seen people encouraging each other to ask any question but a lot of the times those questions are actually questionable - missing common sense. As a PM, it's vital for you to understand what question you need to ask and what problem you need to solve, instead of jumping to the solution bandwagon right away, slow down.

Do better and not just different

If I ever started my own merchandise, I am printing this on a shirt, for sure. A lot of people are selling the same story and hoping that people will buy them mainly because they are trying to be different. Ok, reality check, being different doesn't mean being better. And the most valuable commodity in this world right now is 'Attention'. No one is going to give you any if you are not providing values.

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The most valueable commodity in this world right now is 'Attention'

Looking outside and inside

Launching a product can be a nightmare if you get the recruitment wrong. And you know what? that is not the worst part when things go wrong. The worst part is that everyone will blame you for missing the deadlines, for not hiring the right people, for never asking for more time, I think you got the idea. If you want to improve look inwards. Every time anything goes wrong, look inside and try to find things that were in your control and you did a horrible job at them. Then turn them into action items and try to take one step at a time to improve.

Your life is more important than the job. It's just a job

So, that is my favorite on the list. I have seen the work draining the life out of me. Yes, I did manage to launch products and built teams and whatnot but it has a cost. I got obese, my cholesterol levels are through the roof, I barely ate but I am still gaining weight, I could barely stay stress-free, and there's a lot more along the same lines. If I look back, I don't know how I would justify doing this all to myself. I don't have an explanation. But, it's a hard-learned lesson that it's just a job. If I end up losing my life or health this all is worthless. So, enjoy the journey along the way, learn as much as you can, and don't forget to have fun. It's just a job and you are still paid for 8 hours a day.

If this is not nice what is

Along the lines of self-improvement, I have picked this habit when everything is going good or I am happy or I have a nice day I keep reminding myself if this is not nice then what is? And this habit of becoming more grateful and expressing more gratitude has helped me a ton in relieving the unwanted stress.

Get over yourself. It's not always about you

This is a piece of advice to people reading this. It's a reality check that I got as well. Please, get over yourself. It's not always about you and you are not the center of attention all the time. If you want to grow let go of the vine that you are holding so dear.  

Mudassir Mustafa Twitter

I help entrepreneurs and business leaders launch their products and reduce the chaos through building high performance teams and proven product management techniques.