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A good year for a snake

Tags: China

Oliver Evans on Monday, February 18, 2013 11:50 AM

During the last days our Chinese friends have, with a lot of boom and bang, celebrated their New Year of the Snake. It struck me how appropriate this year’s symbolic animal is. The snake presides over a year which has clearly not yet decided which way it is headed, and I cannot think of any other animal, living or mythical, which would be more fitting for a fledgling 2013.

Why? Because everything about the snake strongly hints at virtues and aptitudes that could serve us well in the dozen or so moons to come.

A snake is always well-grounded, something that is very useful when rates decide to go on a rollercoaster again, or brighter skies suddenly turn dark – or vice versa. Being well-grounded also makes for excellent stability, which is what you need when business models come under pressure and cargo stubbornly refuses to flow along the routes it so reliably followed since, well, since I can remember.

What is more, a snake is perfectly designed for moving from side to side, and we better be as well, with a market that defies traditional peaks and troughs, and has become as unpredictable as the weather.

The snake does all of that and more based purely on the strength of its flexible and prodigious belly. Now, wouldn´t that be something if executives and CEOs in the airline industry take this cue, and reflect on how much they rely on and profit from the much under-appreciated underside of their airplanes?

Above all, snakes are nature’s masters of adaptability. No matter what the environment throws at them, they find ways to cope and to come out stronger than before. They do so by instinct, of course, and herein lies maybe the most important lesson to learn from an animal which many cultures view as a source of wisdom: the willingness to act instinctively.

We will always live in an environment with too much information, or data, on one side, and not enough information, or insight, on the other. So it might actually be wise to let our instinct take the lead from time to time, and trust it to find ways where rational thinking is prone to get stuck.

That is the wisdom of the snake.

And that is my Chinese New Year’s wish for our industry.

Thank you for tuning in.


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