According to the Chinese zodiac cycle, the year of the (Metal) Rat is upon us! As the first animal in the zodiac, the strong, prosperous Rat brings a year of new beginnings and opportunities. Here’s how the story goes: when deciding which animals would be in the zodiac cycle and in what order, the Jade Emperor announced that the first animal to arrive at his party would lead off the cycle. The quick-witted Rat asked the diligent Ox for a ride across the river, saying he would guide the poor-sighted Ox. As they were reaching the finish line, the Rat jumped off the Ox’s head and ran across the line first. (Incidentally, the Rat also kicked the Cat off the Ox into the water and is the reason why felines chase those rodents.) We’ll check in with Ox next year.
Thus, 2020 is the beginning of a new 12-year cycle as we close out the 2019 Pig. (Why 12th? Pig got hungry, ate a feast, fell asleep, and arrived at the party last.) The Rat represents the beginning of a new day. Interestingly, it should also be a lucky year for almost all zodiac signs, as long as you are determined and carefully plan your goals and aspirations. I’m a Fire-Horse, and for me, 2020 promises to be a fruitful and prosperous year, although there will be challenges to overcome. You see, Rat is in the water group and the ‘metal’ element creates water. Water douses fire, so I’ll need to be extra attentive when facing life issues. But challenges can become opportunities in the year of the Rat!
So, what does this mean for business?
In Chinese culture, the Rat is a sign of wealth and prosperity due to thriftiness and meticulous work. Good luck will come as long as you are focused and determined with respect to your goals. This will be a great year to start new projects or improve ongoing ones. Progress is the optimal term here, which seems appropriate with so many organizations going through digital transformations right now. This first year also sets the pace for the 12-year cycle, so it is important to develop skills and bring ideas into practice. Partnerships, even outside your industry or comfort zone, are critical in 2020. Pairs always bring balance and new ideas.
Rats are also resourceful, smart, and imaginative. Their sharp observations let them quickly take advantage of opportunities. They are highly perceptive and can sense when to act based on the environment. This is especially important as more companies rely on pure data to make business intelligence decisions. Being able to adjust business tactics based on data will propel organizations in 2020. As in 2019, data storytellers will be in high demand.
“Metal” industries (such as automotive, machinery, IT, tech, health, and cosmetics), along with financial and service industries, seem poised to do well. However, during the last Rat year in 2008, we saw a financial crisis caused by the subprime mortgage debacle. Getting ahead is important to the Rat, but don’t get caught in the Rat-Race’s endless, fruitless pursuit of financial rewards. Today’s successful companies pursue a higher cause than simply profits and society rewards brands that demonstrate compassion.
As we begin a new Rat-centric cycle, it’s important to consider what we humans bring to the mix as technology encompasses everything we do—in fact, the theme for the RSA Conference this year is “the Human Element.” We are all part of the Human Element within cybersecurity: people helping and protecting other people makes us all more secure in this chaotic world.
So, be kind, generous, thoughtful, and resilient as you head into 2020, and have the courage to try new things. If something doesn’t work, move on! You never know until you give it a go. Plus, kicking off this cycle with good vibes should hold you until 2032. Blue, gold, and green are the lucky colors this year, so add some flair to your palette.
The 2020 Rat has arrived! Go forth, prosper…and take care of others.