Reflections on my Leadership Journey
Updated: 7 days ago
Table of Contents
Every life faces adversity and hardship. I harbor no illusions of being immune to them; they shape who I am. To reach the highs, I must navigate through the lows.
I aim to tell my story in all its messy brilliance, where I am today in my career and the adversities, challenges, and hardships I have encountered. I have learned the lessons and the importance of facing these difficulties head-on and not running away from them. Instead, running towards opportunities.
I hope to get the young women who attend my talks or read my blogs to think about their stories and defining moments that pick us. Moments that come with lows that we did not ask for nor want to go through because of the afflictions on the other side. I promise you those low junctures are worth it. I am in one of those defining low moments. Once again, I am faced with eruptions of possibilities in my career.
I begin this story of my latest opportunity by first conveying that I am exceptionally grateful to experience the low and high moments because these seasons have served and helped me become a better person, leader, and product manager. For every adversity, I have the understanding that I am prepared to handle and appreciate my high moments.
I am filled with profound gratitude for the life that I have. I get to wake up every morning, which is not guaranteed. Every day, I am given a gift to experience joy in unexpected ways, face exceptions, and manage them with intellectual humility. I get to make new mistakes and learn new things.
I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to weave and share the stories that define who I have become today. I am filled with the utmost appreciation that I have been able to embark on a remarkable career journey that continues to shape and nourish me.
Eruptions of Possibilities
I was once again in a situation where my position was eliminated. This time, I was not surprised; the writing had been on the wall for some time. Preparing for the experience did not prevent negative thoughts from flooding my thoughts or my inner judge from going into overdrive. This is knowing in my heart that I am surrounded by loved ones who will pick me up when I fall. Heartbreak. Fear. Imposter Syndrome. Insecurities. Self-doubt. Anxieties.
Below are some of the thoughts of inadequacy I’ve had.
“I’m not good enough.”
“Why could I not be smarter.”
“How will I pay my bills?”
“How will I find a new job?”
“What will other people think? “
“How will I explain this during interviews?”
“Will I rebound?”
These thoughts are even more amplified when I get the standard we found another candidate email. Regardless of how positive I try to be or assure myself that I will be okay, whenever I sit down at my desk to look for a new job, the voices in my head say, “What will they think when they find out I’ve been laid off?” and of course the “You‘ll never be successful again.” My inner judge would not let up.
Furthermore, my layoff happened in December. As many of us know, this month is tough and can be arduous for some people for many reasons. I happen to be one of those people.
So, my options are I can live in cynicism, anxiety, and self-doubts, or I can let “life” happen, try to ignore my inner judge, and figure out a way to manage this process.
The End of Product Stewardship
I have always believed that as product leaders, we are stewards of our products for a short period. If we’re lucky, we could build products, solutions, and services that improve our customers' lives and contribute to our organization's footprint.
Therefore, we must ensure our products are in a position where the next PM after us can pick up the mantle and proceed. We have paved the way for them by ensuring a product vision and roadmap. They can then create product magic by continuing the story of our products and adding their chapters and verses until their custody ends and another PM picks up the mantel yet again. This change in guard is feasible because of the foundation that we have laid.
When it is time for me to move on from my product, my stewardship has ended, and I always walk away a better version of myself. I walk away wiser and more knowledgeable because of the cross-functional colleagues, leaders, and direct reports I have had the privilege to get to know and learn from.
My rebounding process began by letting “life” transpire. I acquiesced to listening to my negative thoughts, which is incredibly hard, and I started to live in the moment.
I chose to remind myself daily of the incredibly great position I am in. I have been able to work on awesome projects in my career as a product leader, and I have built products, solutions, and services that I’m proud of. In every one of those instances, I have truly been privileged to walk away a more self-actualized and even better leader.
I chose to be instead appreciative that I was a detail, a footnote in my colleagues' stories, and they were supporting characters in mine. More importantly, I learned a lot of important life lessons from them, lessons I will carry with me to my next role and pass on to my new colleagues. I hope that in the short time I played a supportive character in their lives, I made a difference.
Losing my job was tough, but it won't be the last time. I may get laid off again, but either way, I will endure. One certainty is that the sun will rise again tomorrow and the following day. Life will continue, and I will end up with the right new PM role by being in the right place at the right time.
Every new chapter begins at the end of another. The eruptions of my possibilities will continue, and I am excited to see what will unfold for me when “life” happens. The education of Ronke Majekodunmi continues.