London, U.K. 10:00 PM
I was in London speaking at a corporate event when the monkey handed the reigns to the rooster. Yes, I’m talking about one of the most important and celebrated days of the year for 1.5 billion people — the Chinese New Year.
It seems that the only time I feel like running is when I travel. Not a good recipe for staying in shape, but a simple and easy way to explore the city, take in the sights and clear my mind. The logical destination on the eve of this new year was to head down to Chinatown in the City of Westminster and take in some of the festivities.
I had plenty of time to think along the run, as the destination was 10 km away. As this was my first run in over a month, it was slow.
I began to think about the Chinese New Year after a couple of kilometers. I thought about its rich history, dating back to the 14th century, why and how it started and some of the myths and folklore that have carried on through the ages. Then, I asked myself, “I wonder how many people truly adhere to the beliefs that stem from the origin of this day.” And, more importantly, how do those beliefs impact the way people live their lives today?
One after another, a tsunami of questions and thoughts kept crashing through my brain.
With all the consulting work and speaking I do around the world, I see one constant that cripples people in every culture – fear. Fear of job loss, fear of making a simple decision, and even fear of communicating with someone in person. Fear stems from lack of belief – especially in oneself. It promotes poor performance, diminishes company culture and stifles our ability to creatively solve problems.
For many of us, we have more than ever before. Yet we are more uncertain, fearful and miserable than ever before – both personally and professionally.
After a brief stop for some oxygen relief, I began reflecting on how important our beliefs are in shaping our outcomes, desires and successes in business and in life.
But first, some very interesting history…
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year is based on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, which means New Year’s Day can vary between January 21st and February 19th. Also known as the “Spring Festival,” this year the party starts on Saturday, January 28th and continues until the Lantern Festival, 15 days later.
Each Chinese New Year is characterized by one of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac.
The Rat. Ox. Tiger. Rabbit. Dragon. Snake. Horse. Goat. Monkey. Rooster. Dog. Pig.
There are many myths as to why and how each animal was chosen. There may also be variations in the animal representing the year depending on which version of the Chinese zodiac someone follows. Still, each animal has symbolic characteristics given to it by the ancient Chinese.These animal attributes come in six contrasting pairs that are harmonized, like yin and yang, and are the primary factor governing the order of the zodiac. It is believed that your animal has a huge influence on various aspects of your life — personality, future, career, love and general luck.
If you’re familiar with western astrology, the major difference between the two is that each house (animal) in the Chinese zodiac is one year in duration instead of one month. This means that according to Chinese beliefs, people who were born in the same year have similar traits, as opposed to the Western belief that those born during the same month-long time frame have similar traits.
Are You a Rooster?
This year is said to be the year of the rooster. The rooster is the tenth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign. The Years of the Rooster include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029…
The Rooster is the embodiment of dependability and punctuality. For ancestors who had no alarm clocks, the rooster’s crowing was significant, as it could awaken people to get up and start to work. It is said that people born in a rooster year are independent, honest, and competent but can be emotionally volatile. (Aren’t we all? Emotionally volatile that is :))
As luck would not have it, the year of your sign is believed to be one of the unluckiest years of your life, according to Chinese astrology. Sorry, roosters.
If you’re not a rooster you can check out which animal you are below based on the year you were born.
- Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
- Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
- Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
- Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
- Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
- Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
- Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
- Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
- Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
- Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
- Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
- Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
Once you’ve found your animal sign, feel free to indulge on one of the thousands of astrology sites to see if your animal is representative of who you are and what the year ahead may have in store for you according to Chinese astrology.
Will You Be Successful In The Year Ahead?
Back to beliefs.
Do you believe in luck? Routines? Superstitions? Spirituality?
Black cats, breaking mirrors, lucky Jupiter, pregame songs or lucky socks?
Belief is a state of mind. It’s hard to describe or articulate, especially when there’s little or no empirical evidence toward justifying its existence or consistency of truth. It’s purely subjective and can trigger many emotions.
Four words come to mind when I see or hear the word belief —confidence, opinion, acceptance and trust (COAT). These are the building blocks of who we are, how we think, what we say and why we do the things we do.
I do believe that there are external forces that are constantly working for and against us which are beyond our control. Like when and where we were born.
We didn’t have a choice.
I also believe that our internal force, or belief system, is more powerful than any external forces out there.
And, we do have a choice in defining who we are based on the circumstances that are presented to us.
No matter what your beliefs are, whether you believe in Chinese astrology or not, the Chinese New Year gives us all an opportunity to reflect and become more self-aware. The world, for many of us, is one that is out of control — one that is living constantly in a hyper-reactive unconscious state. One that sacrifices freedom for traditionalism.
There is nothing wrong with following traditional beliefs— if this serves you well. If it doesn’t, then question it. Tune your beliefs to something that does. Uncover which ones are moving you forward in a positive way and which ones are holding you back from the true essence of who you are. Now is the time to change the latter.
It starts with a central belief. A belief that you control the life you were given — not someone, some app or something else.
Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (Happy New Year) (新年快乐)
“Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái” (Wishing you a prosperous New Year ) (恭喜发财)
Featured photo credit: Craig Gauthier. via media.lifehack.org