I don’t want to frighten you (though I admit opening an article with that is pretty scary), but I mentioned in last year’s OK 2020 Rat, Now What? that the Rat—being the first in the 12-year zodiac cycle—sets the pace for the next cycle. So, if 2020 is setting the pace, the Year of the Ox should be buck wild—but thankfully, the stabilizing influence of the Ox points to a calmer atmosphere.
According to the Chinese zodiac, the year of the (Metal) Ox is upon us! The Ox is the second animal in the zodiac. 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.)
So, let’s close out the 2020 Rat and welcome the honest, hardworking Ox. The Ox is valued in Chinese culture due to its role in agriculture.
So, what does this mean for business?
The Ox reflects traditional characteristics like dependability, honesty, determination, and strength. People born in Ox years are the quiet type, not looking for praise but earning their reputation via hard work. Braggers need not apply! With all the conflict in 2021, it might be smart to tone your marketing down a bit this year and not try to be the center of attention. At F5, we have the mantra ‘Do the right thing,’ and that is totally Ox-like. Your word and integrity will matter this year, along with kindness.
The Ox achieves its goals with patience and consistent effort. Their desire is to make progress in its endeavors. As with last year, Progress is the optimal term, with many organizations fast-tracking their digital transformation. The pandemic accelerated many digital plans, but it’s advisable to take a breath…and take inventory, to make sure you’re headed in the right direction prior to dropping more of your budget on technical solutions. The workplace has forever changed, but you shouldn’t rush workplace solutions. Careful thought must go into supporting this new culture.
While the Ox rarely loses its temper, it isn’t a pushover by any stretch. Use logic with a soft tone and you can persuade the Ox. But if you dive into a pity-me pathos party to push it, you will likely fail. If 2020 was a year of strife, conflict, and opposite sides screaming at each other (and worse), 2021 is positioned to hopefully calm things down. Try to soften your words, understand other opinions, and seek a common understanding. Hardships from the previous year may endure, and as individuals we should look to care for each other rather than fight. This is important for companies too, as they embark on being more active in societal issues. Take a stand for social justice through inclusivity. Many successful brands pursue a higher cause than simply profits, and society has demonstrated a willingness to reward brands that demonstrate compassion.
The Ox is trustworthy, reliable, and holds family in high regard; but it’s also stubborn, and can be confident to the point of arrogance. Ox people can hold high, if not unrealistic, expectations of others since they put their whole heart into everything they do. With the pandemic still in full force, it is important for organizations to encourage a healthy work-life balance for their employees. Mental health issues have forged to the forefront and are no longer a ‘taboo’ topic. Many in the workforce are suffering, both in immediate and not-so-obvious ways, so practicing empathy can go a long way. Reach out to co-workers who may be struggling. Sometimes a gentle ear can go a long way in helping others through a personal misfortune. 2021 should be the year we start healing. These days, our personal and work lives have become so blurred that one almost constantly impacts the other.
As I say every year, be kind, generous, thoughtful, and resilient as you head into 2021, and have the courage to try new things. If something doesn’t work, move on. Your lucky colors for 2021 are blue, yellow, and green. Yellow swapped with gold last year, but blue and green stay. Did you know that 528hz is the frequency of greenish-yellow in the color spectrum, and an amazing healing tone for the body? Trust me and give it a listen in 2021. You should find harmony with the soothing tone.
The 2021 Ox has arrived! Be compassionate, strong…and look out for others.