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Leverage - A Small Step For You /A Big Change For Your Career

Cassy was an employee of a nonprofit who had been at her job 5 years. She came to me because she felt that the organization she was working for didn't value her and was upset because others had been promoted but she had not.

By the time we began to work together she had already written her resignation letter and asked me to review it with her. Her letter was not an angry one. She even thanked the organization for the training she had received that had enabled her to have some notable achievements.

After I read it I asked her to think of one skill that she hoped she would get from her next position and weave it into the letter so they would know why she was leaving. She chose to highlight leadership skills and in the letter said she was leaving to find a position that would allow her to develop her leadership skills.

You can probably guess what happened? The organization offered her a job managing a team immediately. Her manager said he thought she didn't want to be a manager. The immediate offer was because he didn't want to lose her!

The third step of my Value Program ? is Leverage and by leverage I mean a small shift or change that can produce big results. The small change Cassy made to her letter got a much bigger result than she had even dreamed about!

The word leverage comes from the word lever. I always picture a big rock with a big metal bar under it. If you push a little on the metal bar you can move the rock. Without the big metal bar (the lever), the rock is just too big for you to move.

Clients often come to me because their business isn't building fast enough or their job or career search is bogged down. There is a lot to do when you are starting to build a business, practice or a career. Results may come slowly. Leverage is key. As you look at all the choices of steps to take you will want to ask yourself, "What small step can I take that will produce a big result?

Of course there are an infinite number of answers depending on you and your business. In my experience though the following three offer leverage to most people:

First a plan can be of enormous help as long as you write it, use it and update it as necessary. Whether you are writing a career plan, job search plan, territory plan, practice plan or business plan, look at it as something you are going to use. So many people shove the plan in the draw never to be seen again. A plan might take several hours to write but then you have a clear view of how to move the rock when you are done.

Another idea for leverage is to develop strategic partners. These are people who can point you in the right direction. They might introduce you to someone who is hiring or know people who need your product or service. They may be in a complimentary industry and be willing to recommend you or your service to their clients. Think of strategic partners as people who are holding the lever with you so you can move that rock farther and/or faster.

Use your accomplishments for leverage too. They give you credibility with customers or hiring managers. Cassy's letter of resignation underlined what she had learned in her current job. She leveraged what she had for an opportunity to learn something new.

Take Action:

1. What small action can you take in your work or personal life that will result in a big move forward? Write down what you want to accomplish (the result) and brainstorm ideas to move forward quickly or dramatically. Try brainstorming alone, with a friend and/or with your coach.

2. Write or update your business or career plan for 2005. What will you be doing to move your business or career forward?

3. Check your address book and business card collection. Look for strategic partners who have helped you in the past or who you think can help you know. Make an appointment with them to discuss your idea for working with them.

4. Make a list of other ways to leverage what you already have in your business, career or job. I'd love to make a list of ideas on using leveraging in business, career and life. If you are willing to share yours, please send them to me at

Alvah Parker is a Business and Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Parker's Value Program? enables her client to make his/her career fun, fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are managers, business owners, sole practioners, attorneys and people in transition. Alvah is found on the web at She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.

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