For those of you out there that are doing business with or in China in some capacity, this post might seem old hat to you. For those of you that have heard and read about the growing Chinese economic juggernaut, I hope I can open your eyes and make you believe in the African proverb about the lion and the gazelle:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be faster than the slowest lion. If he cannot, he will be eaten.
Every morning in Africa, a lion awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be faster than the slowest gazelle. If he cannot, he will starve.
Whether you choose to be a gazelle or a lion is of no consequence. The only thing that matters is that, when the sun comes up, you better start running.
I am not trying to instill fear, anxiety or trepidation into anyone. My hope to simply to show you what is happening so that you can take advantage of it in your business and professional life.
I read a story in this months issue of Inc magazine about the Chinese entrepreneur behind the websites Alibaba and Taobao (Chinese E-bay like site). His name is Jack Ma.
A particularly interesting piece of the article read as follows:
“When I was 12 years old, I got interested in learning English. I rode my bike for 40 minutes every morning, rain or snow, for eight years to a hotel near the city of Hangzhou’s West Lake district, about 100 miles southwest of Shanghai. China was opening up, and a lot of foreign tourists were there. I showed them around as a free guide and practiced my English. Those eight years deeply changed me. I started to become more globalized than most Chinese. What I learned from my teachers and books was different from what the foreign visitor told us.”
What I find amazing about this story is the outright hunger and quest for knowledge and personal improvement that Jack Ma exhibited at such a young age. Can anybody out there think of any American kids they know, at 12 years old, with the same hunger and drive? Think about the millions of Jack Ma’s in China right now, hungry to learn, grow and improve. Jack Ma is now one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in China. Many are joining his rank every day.
Does this put us, as enterprising Americans at a competitive disadvantage? Maybe. Should we run in fear of China? No.
American business owners should take any feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty and turn them into a fire to push themselves to the next level. We should be increasingly motivated by the fact that there are other horses in the race toward higher standards of living. It is only when we are truly pushed to our limits that we can be our very best. Would Magic Johnson and Larry Bird have been as great if they weren’t competing against each other? I would hazard to guess that they would not have been.
I see too many American business owners playing possum, hoping the Chinese economic dragon does not burn or step on them. Deep down these business owners know that it is no way to build a real business, but they are stuck in limbo, paralyzed by indecision and fear.
The way to cure fear is ACTION. The way to cure inaction is ACTION.
Remember: when the sun comes up, you better start running!