Do whatever it takes to get you there, but to keep your spot, you have to stay the course. Jack Ma has followed this process for years, and doing so has prospered him into a self-made billionaire.
It’s not every day that one becomes a millionaire, let alone a billionaire. And for the ones that do, it may boil down to a lot of trial and error, little steps, and one giant leap of man or woman-kind.
Ma, a former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba Group, “the world’s largest retailer and one of the largest technology companies globally, sticks to his goals by constantly asking himself three simple, yet often overlooked questions.
When speaking at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Ma disclosed how he has remained focused on his way up to the top.
“I keep asking myself these three questions,” Ma said.
- “What do you have?”
- “What do you want?”
- “What will you give up?”
It seems simple enough on the surface, but dig deeper and you will see that people often fail to answer them.
Of the three, the hardest one to come to terms with is, “What are you willing to give up?” Giving up something usually means stepping outside one's comfort zone and into a state that is unfamiliar, a bit scary, and usually requires challenging sacrifices.
When it comes to sacrifice, it’s inevitably a choice that has to be made in favor of the long run. Examining and recognizing that not only helps people to commit to their goals over time, but it pushes them to be held accountable for their actions - ones that lead to producing results.
“Don’t think you will succeed next year; you have to prepare for 10 years,” he said, pointing out that Alibaba didn’t take just a year or two to get to where it is today.
Though Ma and his founding team didn’t have much when starting out --money, knowledge or industry contacts -- by working hard and believing in the beauty of their dreams, success became inevitable.
“Always think about these questions, and then you’ll be fearless, you’ll be optimistic, you will know what you want,” he said. “When you’re going on that, you’ll never get lost.”