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 ancientanimal 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.