The power of focus. The power of Persistence. I believe these are powerful ingredients of success, but just how powerful they are was brilliantly brought to life when I listened to Jack Ma, the charismatic founder of the world’s largest online business portal, alibaba.com.
Jack Ma used to be an English teacher in Beijing China. His proficiency in the language meant that he was much in demand when trade delegations came into mainland China or when groups of Chinese businessmen went over to the US to seek trade opportunities. Jack saw, first hand, two phenomena at work.
One, the Chinese businessmen—— despite their ignorance of the English language – had a lot to offer and seemed capable of taking on the world. Two, the emerging medium of internet seemed to hold the potential to take china to the world like nothing else could. Putting the two together, Jack Ma roped in eighteen friends with whom he shared his vision. And thus was born alibaba.com. And within some years it made its debut on the HONG KONG stock exchange and the initial offering was the second largest for any internet company in the world.
During a question answer session he was asked about his formula for success, like the man himself, his advice too is simple. “Believe in your dream and believe in yourself. Do it because you want to do it, not because other people want you to do it. Don’t give up the dream. Do whatever you can to make sure you are getting closer to your dream every day. Find good people, learn quickly and learn from others the tactics and the skills, but don’t change your dream!”
Jack Ma then illustrated the power of Focus. He said that if there are nine rabbits running around and you want to catch one, focus only on one. Of you try to catch them all, you may end up with none. If the rabbit you’re chasing proves elusive, change your tactics but don’t change the rabbit. Just stick to it. There are so many opportunities; you cannot catch all of them. Get one first, put it in your pocket, and then catch the others.
Powerful advice that. Often we are guilty of getting tempted by multiple opportunities, and in trying to grab them all, we end up with nothing. The first challenge for most of us lies in not choosing which rabbit to catch. Setting clear goals is the key to starting on the journey to success. Next, we get distracted by other rabbits hopping about and lose our focus.
You may have heard the name of famous ice cream brand Vadilal. It was sworn to be world’s best ice cream— capable of becoming the biggest and the best ice cream brand in the world. Did Vadilal get there? Well, not quite. Along the way, Vadilal saw that processed food would be a big category in India. Good insight. So they got in there, and chased that rabbit. Then with the dawn of liberalization in India, they figured that dealing in forex could be a big business idea. So they chased that rabbit too. Then real estate, a booming sector. That was rabbi number four. And then chemicals…. Vadilal just chased too many rabbits for their own good.
Even when we focus on one rabbit, our inability to catch it pushes us quickly—- too quickly sometimes—- to chase other rabbits. We lack persistence. We give up too soon. You can see too many young people quit their jobs because they think they are not climbing the ladder quickly enough, it makes me cry. I wish they knew and heeded Jack Ma’s words: “Change tactics. Don’t change the rabbit.”
By Mr. Zakir Hussain
(Teacher BHSS Kangan)