The 2020 Dilemma: Adaptable or Nimble?

2020 has flown by quite quickly and in a few weeks we’ll be entering the final quarter. A rather unusual year, with unexpected twists and turns that I doubt the very best movie- maker could have scripted. In many ways, it’s a like a good soap opera – every time it seems like a plot was unfolded, a twist emerged from where you least expected, somewhat like the emergence of an evil twin that was separated at birth! The cliché phrase “change is the only constant” cannot be more true this year. And if there is one word that resonated with me , it has to be “nimble”.

With hundreds of thousands job losses worldwide and major corporations like Singapore Airlines starting to let go employees at this stage, the number of people who are going to unemployed for a few months or longer will rise. The lack of job opportunities is one, but the group that is of greater concern is those that have been in the same line of work anywhere between 20 to 30 years and have developed specialised skills or very basic transferrable skills. In addition to that, if you’ve been retrenched and you are between the ages of 45 and 55 years old, you’re in that limbo stage where you probably still have financial commitments for the next 15 to 20 years. Top that off with the decline in some industries like the airlines, travel and even apparel and industries affiliated to these, while not permanent, it would render many jobless for a year or maybe more.

Why nimble and not adaptable? A fine line of difference between the two, sometimes used interchangeably and the key difference is in speed and urgency; while both requires one to make adjustments to a new situation, being nimble entails not just flexibility but more importantly, speed in adjusting to a new situation. The early days of the pandemic saw many examples of nimble: private hire drivers who switched to food/parcel delivery, airline crew taking on roles as nursing assistants or Covid-19 swabbers. Left with the prospect of not having an income, the agile quick-thinkers jumped to the opportunity to apply the skills they had to the new situation while quickly learning new skills.

I’m sure by now you must be wondering, “Am I nimble enough?” and I’ve got FIVE questions to get you going:

1. What skills and knowledge I have that are unique to my current industry/work?

2. What skills and knowledge I have that can be IMMEDIATELY transferred to an industry that is significantly different from my current industry/work?

3. If I were to lose my job within the week, how long would it take me to find a new job or new income generating activity?

4. How much knowledge do I have of the current work climate? (This is crucial for those of you who have been in employment in same industry or company for more than 5 years).

5. What skills/knowledge do I need to acquire to open up my opportunities?

And if you would like to develop a strategy and lack clarity on how you can move forward, I have a structured coaching programme and you can book your free coaching session at this link