It’s all about Leverage

Leverage, TV Series (2008-2012)

I’ve been watching the TV series Leverage, from beginning to end on Netflix. This was a fantastic series, and I really miss it being on television regularly. A show about a hitter, a hacker, a thief, a grifter – all led by “the brains,” of the team of former criminals. This is the show that gave our culture such catch phrases as:

“Age of the Geek, Baby!” (Hardison)
“That’s 20 pounds of crazy in a five pound bag.” (Eliot)
“I’m so glad I don’t live in the real world.” (Parker)
“I still don’t understand how you can mix up Paris and Tuscany.” (Sophie)
“Let’s go break the law.” (Nate)

The first time they worked together they made enough money from a short-sell of stock that none of them would ever have to work for a living again. After that, they decided to use their knowledge, skills, and assets to help “the little guy,” by providing “leverage,” against corporate and government entities.

In addition to providing leverage for their clients, Leverage, Inc. is quite adept at using leverage themselves. It occurred to me today, while watching the last season that this is something we can all apply to our own lives – particularly if we are going through a life or career transition.

Personal Motivation

Most of the members of Leverage, Inc. are former high-class criminals, and while they are proud of their abilities, but not really proud of what they did in their former careers to hone those abilities. This “Leverage” project is giving them each an opportunity to do something they CAN feel good about, and that they CAN be proud of doing. Oh, yes, they’re still thieves and grifters and hackers and hit-men, but now they’re helping people who need help, instead of just using their ability to increase their own wealth. This is their motivation – personal growth.

Most of us have a history that we either want to capitalize on or move away from (or both). More importantly, we all have somewhere we want to be. It’s that difference between where we’ve been and where we want to be that gives us the personal motivation to keep moving. Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep going.

Diverse Skill Set

Many of the jobs this team takes on requires going in “under cover,” so at any time they might be called on to plan a party, or run a restaurant, or be a museum curator. They might be waiters or teachers, or performers, or hockey players. They might be dealing with people from any continent, so they need to have a broad knowledge of international history, culture and current affairs. The technology they are dealing with may be relatively primitive or state-of-the-art, so they need to know how to repair an office copier, or hack a computer system worthy of a sci-fi movie. Physically, they need to be able to fight, run, or scale a building in a variety of circumstances, and their wardrobes need to be able to move from prison to outdoor activity to a boardroom to a ballroom throughout the course of any given day. Talk about flexible!

Many of us have a diverse set of knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA). While some of our skills are not necessarily the ones we want to highlight on a resume for a particular job – they were never a waste of time to learn. Life has a funny way of bringing us around again, and we are often drawn to situations primarily because we have the talent or ability to handle that situation. Keep your skills honed. Keep your mind sharp. Never be too proud to roll up your sleeves and fix a copier or do some dishes. You never know who is watching or what doors will open next.

Social Network

This team not only works well internally, but has a working relationship with major and minor players in every industry. They have learned to negotiate with friends and foes, and to convince even people who don’t like them to WANT to help them. As needs arise, they are able to call in favors or leverage social clout to get the job done.

No man is an island, and no matter how fiercely independent you are, you still need people to get some things done. Having a good working relationship with colleagues, mentors, clients, and trainees is the key to making a successful transition. Relationship building is a lot of work, but is key to a strong network, and well worth the time and effort.


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