Laziness Is at the Heart of Job Doldrums

We all know people who are complacent. They don't push themselves to learn and grow. They never offer to do more. They're content with getting away with what's expected -- no more, no less.

Don't be one of them.

In my early 20s, I worked in public relations -- first at ABC News, assisting with the promotion of superstars like Barbara Walters, and then at NBC News, where I was the youngest press manager handling publicity for Maria Shriver, Jane Pauley, Tim Russert, Stone Phillips and others.

I would call newspaper reporters throughout the country and TV producers at shows like "Entertainment Tonight" to ask if they wanted to interview Shriver about her celebrity specials. I'd pitch to the media to cover the latest ratings coup for Russert's Sunday public affairs program, "Meet the Press."

Inevitability, the answer was yes: "Yes, we want to promote Maria's work." "Yes, we want to praise Tim's success."

I thought I was good at my job. Really, really good. I had great friends in the media and the talent at NBC was pleased with the exceptional results of my work.

When I left NBC, I was hired as the director of communications at Nickelodeon, where I was responsible for developing and executing the press strategy for the consumer products division. Instead of TV anchors, I was now working with animated characters.

During my first couple of weeks in this new position, I figured the best way to wow my new bosses would be to secure some high-profile media coverage for a new line of back-to-school gear. I called several reporters hoping to land a big article. When I asked if they'd want to write about the licensed products, half the reporters said a big fat no. The other half didn't even return my calls.

I panicked thinking I had lost my touch. My husband would see me near tears at night for fear that I had gotten in over my head. Clearly, I had underestimated how easy it was to sell superstars, and how much more challenging it would be to sell lesser-known commodities.

He quickly reminded me that I was making a very healthy six-figure salary, which meant throwing in the towel was totally out of the question.

Instead, I had to push myself to think more strategically about corporate communications. I couldn't get by on my basic knowledge; I had to step out of my comfort zone to develop new contacts and conceive of fresh ideas. I did all of that and more during my three years with the kids' cable network -- and it was a sometimes-nerve-wrecking, but always invaluable, career-advancement experience.

So I say to you, if your job has become too easy, if you're able to do it by rote, consider making a change. Ask your boss to assign more challenging projects. Seek difficult assignments. Learn a new skill. Push yourself.

You'll feel like a superstar if you tackle the unknown.

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