CNY 2020 - Year Of The Metal Rat: Top 5 Rat Traits To Emulate

by Mark Ellwood

Cny 2020

A happy 2020 to you all and we hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and (Gregorian) New Year. And while it seems like the Christmas break was only yesterday, we are now already into CNY season! 


As you’ll no doubt be aware, CNY 2020 marks the start of the year of the Metal Rat under the Chinese Zodiac. So, it seems fitting that for this blog, we look at the top-5 rat personality traits and how we can all apply these to our working practice.


  1. Likeable and social


One of the major personality traits of rats is their ability to mix well and groups and gain the appreciation of others. So, this year let’s all make a proactive effort to contribute more to our colleagues and teams – be that attending more social functions, or simply helping out others when they need it, with some sound advice or much needed skills. This isn’t simply altruistic of course, as it can lead to valuable networking opportunities and new connections.


…but stubborn opinions and can lack inner confidence


We can all do with a bit of extra confidence now and then, and ways to improve confidence include gaining more experience in a particular area or taking a training course. Gaining experience in public speaking is good as a social confidence booster, while up-skilling in technical areas where you feel less confident is always recommended. You may have training courses at work you can make use of, but people are successfully learning from online courses and even Youtube videos these days. And let’s not ignore that rat tendency to run roughshod over the opinions of others. While we don’t always agree with other people, it’s important to find the value in their point of view and the reasons for that view. Taking other’s views into consideration is an important part of team leadership and essential for progression and there may be things that others have seen that we have missed. 


  1. Optimism and energy


Most workplace motivational speakers will espouse the notion of a positive mental attitude, or a ‘can-do’ attitude. Many of us will have used the New Year to turn over a new leaf and get some more exercise, or set goals for the year. Having greater energy and maintaining that positive outlook will set you up for a great 2020. After all, we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve seen ‘drive and enthusiasm’ as desirable traits on a job description.


…but can lack persistence


According to the Zodiac, when faced with hardships, rats can simply up-and-leave, moving to a new home or workplace. At work, this often isn’t an option and learning to tackle hardships and work with your team to move through hurdles is another area of experience needed to move to higher levels of management. It’s important to step aside though, and look at why something that should work isn’t working.  Persistence is important to achieve goals, but it’s also essential to recognise when a problem is simply too big to overcome – it’s then we go back to basics and take a fresh approach.


  1. Clever and adapt quickly


Rats are intelligent and adapt very quickly to new surroundings, making the most of available opportunities. These are also valuable qualities at work, where the ability to quickly change tactics and use all the available resources can help to avoid bumps in the road, while at the same time using the team’s IP and resources to full advantage. Getting stuck in a pattern can be disastrous for the evolution of both a business and also oneself – agility is the keyword here, and a trait often given careful consideration in psychometric assessments. We can all learn to be more agile at work – and this will be the feature of our next blog post, so keep a look out for that one.


…but take advantage of others


The rat is the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac and according to the “Great Race” folk story, this is because in the race between the animals to get to the Jade Emperor, the cat and rat both rode on the back of the kind-hearted Ox across the river. When they got to the other side, the rat pushed the cat into the water and jumped ahead of the Ox to win the race.  While we may see businesses acting this way in the cut-throat corporate race, internally this approach can cause you great problems. The ‘rat race’ as it was once called is now quite an outdated model for the way organisations build themselves internally. Instead, the ability to work well with others and get the most out of their abilities is given much greater value. People who like to take advantage of others to get to the top are more often managed out of the firm now, while people who command loyalty and the confidence of the team are the ones who climb the ladder.


  1. Savings and accumulation


Rats are good at financial strategy and accumulation and have a shrewd business mind. Likewise, as you gain more experience in a business and move into higher levels of management, the financial management aspect of the role increases.  Initially this starts by working closely with the finance team to manage project budgets and then it works all the way up to full P&L management. Make 2020 the year you become more financially literate and capable.


…but can be stingy


Tight control of the purse strings is one thing, but don’t let that stop you form celebrating team success stories and special occasions. Everyone at work needs to let their hair down at some point. Team building days and team away days are actually a good investment if planned carefully and where they align with business goals.


  1. Wealth creation


All those savings and all that accumulation necessarily generates wealth and surplus and rats are also known to enjoy the finer things in life. Wealth doesn’t just have to refer to financial wealth either.  Looking to create a wealth of knowledge in a particular area can set you apart as a team member with special skills. Is there an area where you team could benefit from a greater understanding? Are you motivated enough to fill that gap and create a wealth of knowledge?


…but can be wasteful


Don’t waste the skills and experience that you have accumulated. If you’re not being fully utilised at work, it’s time to make suggestions to use your spare capacity to your manager.  If you’re consistently being under-utilised it may be time to think about making that move to another firm and taking a new broom to 2020.


Wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year and fortune and prosperity for 2020!