Human beings are products too

For every human being on earth, the singular most important thing is the need to achieve

Product design and management are similar in concept and use cases in the areas of developmental and clinical psychology. A basic definition will be that developmental psychology finetunes the experience of a product/human, while clinical psychology uses that experience to meet user needs. In the case of a product, the users are external, but in the case of the human, the user(s) can both be external and internal, mostly internal.

Coincidentally, the one thing both the product cycle and human cycle have in common is the need to achieve. No matter how banal and extraordinary, not achieving will make a product/human defective and useless – and therein lies the problem.

For every human being on earth, the singular most important thing is the need to achieve. Achievement is relative; it could mean anything from getting through your workout to getting a promotion at work. However, I think we’ve attached too much power to the word ‘achievement’ that it has now taken nuance away from the basic meaning of the word, which is to simply get things done on time and with a little discipline.

50 Cent was the first to put this in perspective for me in his book ‘Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter’ – in highlighting the timeline of his wins from a child selling drugs in South Jamaica, Queens, to a TV mogul, he mentioned that at every point in his life, everything that he had wanted, no matter how reckless or unnecessary it seemed, had prepared and motivated him to get to the next level of his life.

But this is not an article about the greatness of 50 Cent, because as much as I am fascinated by the concept of greatness and its associated elements like discipline, style and oddity, I am probably more interested in the not so great people who have more authentic things to tell me about the average human nature. However, it was important to reference his much-documented life to explain my premise for this article because you can always go back to trace the dots.

This is also not an article about technology; it’s an article about human design and management. If we ignore the technicalities of the technological or psychological approaches for a minute, we can see that there are three major phases of human development that impacts achievement; Design, Product-Market Fit, and Ultimate Success. Using Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, I will attempt to break this down.

The Design Phase covers infancy, early childhood, middle childhood and ends at adolescence (0 – 21 years). If you actually reflect on this period as far back as you can remember, and try to be objective about what worked and what didn’t, what hurt and what didn’t, what you liked and what you didn’t, personality types you vibed with and those you didn’t – you will unlock the answers to how you were designed and what you are either capable of and not capable of. Just like a product, the design phase holds all the clues how you were built and what you were built for.

Read also: How can leaders optimise their impact – Professor Roger Delves

The Product-Market Fit Phase covers early adulthood (21 – 39 years), a period that we all know is filled with great turmoil and dilemma. We struggle to fit in with friends, industries, workplaces or geographical locations. In a bid to understand themselves better, a lot of people seek out therapy during this period, and what a trained therapist will first establish is all the unique elements of your design phase that will help you navigate people, places and situations better.

In my case, I could do that by myself because I understand how to use Psychology, and I am also extremely strong-willed and brutally honest with myself. I would not advise that you do this on your own because not only do you not possess the structured knowledge that will help you navigate this process, it is also a long and very painful process that requires discipline and accountability. Only a trained professional can help you get through this, but when you get through and become incredibly self-aware, you will become unstoppable, or as Nassim Taleb calls it, Antifragile.

The Ultimate Success Phase covers middle adulthood and old age (40 – 65 years and older). This is a period where a lot of people commercialize and become successful. Success, in this case, is very subjective, in fact, the great philosopher, Damon Dash, posits that success is a feeling, not an actual accomplishment. What this means is that whether you are a C-Suite living in a penthouse apartment or you are a Professor, living in a modest home in the countryside, what really matters is how you feel about all that you’ve done and/or acquired when you are alone with your thoughts. This is why it is important to get the product-market fit phase right, because what you will eventually call success or accomplishments may really just be someone else’s design script.

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