24: Variety is the spice of life

24: Variety is the spice of life

Sometimes when I’m stuck doing the same thing at work I joke that the repetition is causing my brain to harden. Turns out this isn’t so far from the truth. Here’s why it’s important to keep challenging yourself and learning new things.

“The adult brain retains impressive powers of ‘neuroplasticity’ – the ability to change its structure and function in response to experience”

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Neuroplasticity is the term that describes our brains’ astonishing ability to create new neural pathways when stimulated by, for example, learning a new skill.  Our brains literally reshape themselves to be more effective at performing the new task, which partly explains why we get better with practice.  If goes beyond practical skills as well – if we practice having a positive outlook, being positive will gradually come more easily.  The reverse is also true.

If we settle into a rut, just doing the same-old, same-old and no longer challenging ourselves, our brains stop adapting.  This is why it is important to have variety in your role as a product manager, why you need to seek out new information and skills, then challenge yourself to make use of them.

If you feel you can manage your product with your eyes shut, swap products with another member of your team, or if you’re a one-product company, start thinking about what product number two would look like.  Or challenge yourself to learn a new skill that will reinvigorate your product, such as how to write and present on topics that will interest your current and prospective customers.  Or go and spend some time shadowing a peer from a different company to see what you can learn from their approach to product management.

So keep learning, keep challenging yourself in a positive way, and give your brain the kind of workout that keeps it fit and healthy.  It will blow away the cobwebs and do wonders for your sense of perspective and creativity.  Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

What have you done recently to challenge yourself?  What do you do to re-energise your thinking?

References: #

  1. The Brain: How The Brain Rewires Itself, TIME Magazine
  2. 15 FAQs on Neuroplasticity/ Brain Plasticity, Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains
  3. It Is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Maintenance: Brain Care 101, Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains
  4. Associations of job demands and intelligence with cognitive performance among men in late life, Guy G. Potter, PhD, Michael J. Helms, BS and Brenda L. Plassman, PhD
  5. How To Stay Sane: The School of Life, Philippa Perry

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Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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