Sunday, January 22, we celebrated the Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year. Many of us look forward to new beginnings and this annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon. In the Chinese horoscope, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit or, more specifically, the Year of the Water Rabbit. The rabbit is believed to be the luckiest of the 12 animals to be born under, and considered a gentle animal that thinks before acting.
This is an important quality and a vital element in the planning of protocol events. In protocol, not only do we think before acting, we think of every case scenario. We have a backup plan to a backup plan. We then do a rehearsal or a “dry run” walking through all elements that could possibly happen. Lots of effort goes into preparation. Protocol professionals are constantly vigilant gaging every scenario and anticipating the next move.
The Rabbit is the fourth of all zodiac animals. Legend has it the Rabbit was proud—arrogant even—of its speed. He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was. One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. Rabbit set off at daybreak. But when he got there, no other animals were in sight. Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived. One of them was the Ox he had always looked down upon.
What a profound story! True to life. How many of us have focused on our goals inspite of obstacles – just like the ox. How many of us, have been over-confident like the rabbit? Protocol is not just a career field. It is a way of life. It is a way of living to ensure getting the most out of life. It is for people who “know how to live!” In my opinion it is a basic that everybody should be taught in school, no matter what field of service you choose to follow. Lately, I’ve noticed us all settling for less. Last month my colleague wrote about how manpower seemed to have disappeared with Covid and customer service was lacking as an essential element to our daily living.
This year, as I sat down in a very nice restaurant ready to celebrate Chinese new year with a group of people, I was excited to share in the experience of eating a meal together with my friends. We ordered our food and everyone’s food arrived, except mine. I told my friends to start eating. I didn’t want their food to get cold. They looked around uncomfortably, waited a few minutes then started eating very aware that my plate hadn’t yet arrived. Seeing how uncomfortable my friends were, I checked with the waiter to ensure they hadn’t forgotten my plate. I got a quick, confident reply, “Oh no, we haven’t forgotten, the kitchen delivers the meals as they are ready”. The waiter offered this as a perfectly good explanation that I should happily accept. As I thought about this, I started thinking if I accept that response, I am perpetuating the problem. The waiter seemed unaware of his obligation to provide a shared dining experience to our group. I therefore decided I should enlighten him. My plate eventually arrived 30 minutes after my friends had been served. I told the waiter I had come to share with my friends, and eating alone was not the experience I was looking for. He was very apologetic, but only after I highlighted that I had come to share a meal with my friends. I am amazed that this was not a critical point in customer service in a restaurant.
As we begin this new year, the year of the “Lucky Rabbit”, let’s ensure it to be a lucky year for each of us. A year where we will put effort into the art of good living.