Lessons From The Zodiac: Year of The Water Tiger

by Mark Ellwood

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As we arrive at Chinese New Year in 2022, we take our customary look at the Zodiac story behind the New Year’s animal and see what lessons we can take with us into the workplace. This will be the year of the Water Tiger, and with some normality returning to the workplace, adaptions to the new normal taking root, and with glimpses of the pandemic’s end visible on the horizon, the change in lunar year animal comes at an auspicious time. 

The Tiger’s story

According to the legend (which dates back to the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago), The Jade Emperor challenged all the animals in his kingdom to a “Great Race.” Whatever animal arrived at his palace first would win his favour. However, the big obstacle was a huge river that all the animals had to cross.

Naturally, the Tiger was sure that he would win. But after a good start, the current was too strong and sent him off course. The solid and dependable Ox was most able to navigate the waters and the cunning Rat hitched a ride, hopping off at the far bank to be the winner. However, the strong and determined Tiger recovered and managed to arrive in third place. 

The Tiger Tropes

Therefore, the Tiger personality is considered extremely competitive, known for courage and ambition. However, Tigers are also very generous with a desire to help others – wanting to win but also seeking justice.

Water Tiger

Water is traditionally seen as an emotional element. Water Tigers are therefore considered to be family-oriented with good interpersonal skills. While driven to succeed and sometimes impatient, the Water Tigers do what’s best for everyone, not just for themselves.

2022 – Looking ahead.

This year, Chinese New Year also comes close to the start of the Gregorian New Year, so we can all take some of the lessons to heart.  Indeed, it seems we have moved from the survival of 2020, through the adaptations of 2021 and we are now looking at the regeneration of 2022 – and we can all do with a bit of Tiger courage.

I’ll divide what I feel is the focus of this year into five key areas:

1. Securing The Right Job

We’ve all had to put up with a great deal of change during the last two years and now we see a time when we can start making work work for us again.  This could mean taking steps to secure that promotion or transfer into a new area in your current job, or it could mean an employer or career change. What’s important is to have a job that you are motivated by and that you feel productive in.  

The pandemic really brought this home, which is why we have seen the Great Resignation phenomenon (which continues to play out). At the same time, the work landscape has shifted quicker than perhaps we expected pre-pandemic, closing off old jobs, but also opening up new opportunities. For example, while automation has taken over many traditional tasks, roles in digital have really ballooned. With the ground shifting so quickly, now is the time to take a Tiger-style leap in the right directi

2. Remote Working

While some jobs will require people to return to the office in some capacity, the hybrid model is here to stay. It was something that employers talked about as an ultimate fantasy for years before the pandemic forced it into reality. Getting comfortable with working from home, or at least working remotely, is important. We still don’t know what twists and turns could come as the pandemic plays out and it’s likely there will be times when we all have to only work from home again – doing what’s best for everyone

3. Bettering Ourselves

As well as training ourselves to work more efficiently while working remotely, now is the time to step outside our comfort zones and learn new skills. Whatever your role, there’s a strong chance that you could develop your skills better. You may be able to find training and development that’s available from your employer, but you can also seek out new learning online, on everything from Skillshare to Youtube, to more bespoke offerings. This will give you a competitive edge in both the workplace and when hunting for a new role. But it also means you can make a more informed contribution when it comes to the team and Tiger-like desire to help others

4. Building New Teams

Understanding team dynamics is certainly one of the most important skills to be taken into 2022. Interestingly, in the UK, a new season of the famous Apprentice show just aired. While primarily prime-time entertainment, when this show first appeared there were countless blogs and articles written in the style of “Lessons in Business From The Apprentice”. Now, with seemingly no changes to the show’s format (intrigue, back-stabbing, selfish desire to succeed being rewarded), it has rightfully come in for a lot of criticism – with boardroom activities that wouldn’t get past any of today’s HR departments. Instead, as the world has become more technological, the hard-won lessons of the technology sector (matrix teams, agile working etc) have taken root in the work landscape as a whole. Like the Zodiac Tiger, the enormous desire to win is tempered by the desire to help others and seek justice while using those interpersonal skills.  Praise where praise is due, and understanding how everyone’s skills contribute to the bigger picture is essential

5. Attending To Family

And finally, the Water element in this year’s lunar cycle is timely. Family has played such a huge role during the pandemic. Sadly, some have lost family members, while other families have drawn closer and certainly those with spouses and kids will have been in much closer day to day contact with them. The workspace has transitioned from grey concrete offices into the inner sanctum of the home and altered how we view work and life. Getting the balance right between work and family will be all important this year, and while we take the Tiger’s courage and desire to push forward to improve our working lives, it will be important not to lose the closeness we have forged with our nearest and dearest.​

Wishing your all Xīnnián hǎo and a prosperous 2022!