Be an Agile Shape Shifter

Be An Agile Shape-Shifting

I was abruptly woken by howling winds and a stormy gale, that violently rattled my single-pane window. It was 1987, and the Great Storm had whipped and battered Southern England. Entire trees were yanked from their roots. 

 At 7-years old, this was my first experience of a natural disaster and terror. I had no idea that winds could be so merciless.

And then the world went on. I went back to school and those fallen tree barks were sawn and repurposed into something else useful. 

Tales From My Mama

I grew up in the UK, and mum would often tell me tales about India where she grew up. I remember her reciting the story about the India/Pakistan partition. Our family (along with millions of others) had to uproot and move across new borders, leaving our home, belongings, friends and dreams behind. She was just a little girl then, but she witnessed the division.  

And then the world went on, and our family repurposed and re-established themselves into their new home.

1990’s Recession

As the early 1990’s recession hit, I saw my parents lose their business, life savings, hopes, and ambitions. They eventually relocated and pivoted their careers by re-skilling. 

Again the world went on, and my parents repurposed themselves into something else useful.

2008 Economic Downturn

In 2007, I arrived in Singapore full of wild ambition to launch an employment agency. Little did I know that 2008 would be the onslaught of a global recession leading to mass redundancies. These were not prime conditions to launch an employment agency

Still, the world went on. We repurposed our goals and rebuilt our value-stack. We spearheaded a change in conversation with clients.


During a recent call with a client, I invited him to look at his personal value-stack to see if it ‘held water’ in line with the pace of change, and his company’s grand vision. I shared three words to help him focus his leadership strategy. Futurist, opportunity and shape-shifter. 

1.    Futurist

Imagine what the future may look like for your line of work in 1-5 years? Now visualize a cautious, pragmatic, ambitious, zany (or your choice of adjective) view of the world. How would each of these worlds be functioning? 

2.    Opportunity

In all imagined futuristic worlds, the most agile shape-shifters will lead the way. Ask yourself what opportunities do you see in all future concepts of the world? What role could you/your company/your team/your family and friends play in a new world dynamic?

Then re-evaluate your value-stack, by up-skilling, re-skilling and growing in value.

3.    Shape-Shifter

By definition, shape-shifting is the ability to transform. I believe this will become the most critical skill to master in our work and personal lives. Consider the superpowers of a shape-shifter: 

·      A shape-shifter can repurpose themselves to take advantage of current times. 

·      A shape-shifter is agile and can anticipate different scenarios.

·      A shape-shifter can emerge from calamities, as they shift their shape just in time.


Imagine, those fallen trees from the Great Storm of 1987, their barks repurposed for fuel, houses, furniture, paper, or perhaps books to inspire the greatest of minds.  

It is those who are able to repurpose themselves by constantly re-examining their ‘value-stack’, who will survive violent storms of change. This is the essence of being a shape-shifter today.

Stacking Value

Whilst anxiety envelopes many of us, I invite you to consider a life-long vocation of being an agile shape-shifter. Continuously growing our value-stack will become the key focus for leaders and organizations, to keep pace with change and really show their mettle.

Who are the people currently focused on shape-shifting? Who is busy repurposing on purpose? Who is evaluating their value-stack?

When this pandemic moves to our history books, so perhaps shall the stories of the agile shape-shifters. 

Will you be amongst them?


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