Phoning it in...

April 20th, 2010

We've all done it. You're tired, stressed out or just feeling lazy, so you do your job in a perfunctory, half-a**ed manner. Actors and entertainers would say you were "phoning it in." As a blogger, there are times when I'm busy with other projects and think it would be a lot easier if I could just post some food pictures or a link to a funny/weird article and type: "What do you think?"

But the writer in me says, no, don't take the easy way out. Because you never know who is reading your stuff. If you can inspire one person to do that little extra to find work, make networking connections, or go above and beyond the call at their current job, then it doesn't matter if I get many comments. I've accomplished something worthwhile.

It's easy to get depressed when you're out of work or stuck in a dead-end job. So I'm going to share some advice my mom gave me when I was a high school freshman trying out for the football team. Being half-Japanese, I was on the small side (5'5", a whopping 115 pounds). Yet I hit the bags hard as anyone, and worked my butt off on the practice field.

However, after nearly a week of grueling two-a-days in muggy 90 degree Jersey summer weather, the coaches still wouldn't give me a uniform. They didn't think I was big enough or fast enough. I told my mom it was pointless, and I was giving up. She put my dinner plate in front of me and said, "Why don't you go back one more day?"

So I did. And that afternoon I heard the coaches arguing. The assistant coach said I deserved to be on the team because of my effort. Grudgingly, the head coach finally agreed to give me one of the last uniforms left. I vowed that I would make him eat his words that I was "too small" to play on his team.

By my sophomore year, I became captain of the junior varsity team as a starting defensive back... I was also the punter, a punt returner, second-string quarterback, and on the kick-off team. The head coach promoted me to varsity and put me on the kick-off team (they called me the "Kamikazee"). At the start of my senior year, weighing all of 135 pounds, I was named the starting safety for a varsity team that was ranked in the Top 10 of that county.

Since then, I've had to deal with rejections and disappointments -- especially in my screenwriting career. In effect, agents and producers are telling me I'm not good enough to make it as a writer. I keep thinking about quitting and getting a "real" job. Sometimes, when I'm working on a script I feel like phoning it in -- nobody's buying my stuff, anyway... and then I hear my mom's voice telling me to go back just one more day. Write one more scene, one more page, one more screenplay.

You never know what tomorrow will bring. That could be the day good things happen, all because you decided to do your best right now instead of just going through the motions.

Today's relevant link:

From U.S. News & World Report, 7 Things Never to Say to Your Boss, which sounds like stuff that might spill out of your mouth when you feel overworked or under-appreciated.

Latest Squashed Gecko (my writers blog) post on Celebrity Rehab, also linked on our Career Changers TV site.

9 Responses to “Phoning it in...”

  1. Scott:

    I enjoy your writing. I didn't spit out my coffee upon reading your letter to the editor this morning either. I finally landed a very good job (financial advisor with Edward Jones) and I enjoyed reading your new blog. Too bad we didn't do lunch in Honolulu, but I'm thrilled to read what you're writing. It has been very relevant to me in the past 2 years. All my best!

  2. Rich Figel:

    Congrats on the job! Re the letter, you know I don't totally disagree with some things "Tea Party" types say... the devil is always in the details. Ask anyone what to cut in government, and you will always get disagreement. But I don't think anyone wants to do away with Social Security or Medicare now that we have it... and aren't those forms of socialism?

    Anyhow, thanks for continuing to read my stuff, despite our difference of opinions on politics... and best wishes for a successful career at Edward Jones. Despite all the naysayers, things are actually beginning to look up for the markets. Just a year ago, people were seriously talking about a Depression and a total economic collapse.

  3. zzzzzz:

    Do you still weigh 135?

  4. Rich Figel:


    Still under 145 (except when I hit the Vegas buffets!)... I actually tried really hard to gain weight in high school. Must be hyper-metabolism that burns off the calories!

    Even to this day, my wife is amazed I can eat as much as I do without gaining weight.

  5. Michael:

    "I wear my pen as others do their sword" John Oldham

    Didn't this all happen before? Dejavu on American History. Pilgrims.
    Does one forget History doomed to repeat themselves?

  6. Rich Figel:

    Michael -

    Huh? Pilgrims? Did you warp over from a different thread? It's like an episode of "Lost"... but I do like the Oldham pen quote. Touche!

  7. Michael:

    Was refering to people who don't like the Way America is being run now. Like the Pilgrims who did not like the ruling of the Queen. They fled England and came here to America. Where will Americans go to find a new land. Start History all over again. I always think this way about Tea party Members. They don't like it here, leave. Exodus.

  8. Rich Figel:

    Michael -

    Oh, I see... interesting take on protesters -- but as a child of the 60s, I think Americans have the right to question authority and protest when they think the government is doing wrong. That's not my problem with the Tea Party. My point in the S-B letter is that if you're going to complain, offer solutions or alternatives. You want to cut government? Fine, tell us specifically what you want to axe, and walk the walk -- if you don't want "socialism" then give up your Social Security and Medicare benefits.

    Anyhow, I promised Scott (and my wife) I wouldn't get into political debates on this blog since anonymity seems to breed personal attacks in these threads! Let's try to stay on topic -- anything related to jobs or careers is fine!

  9. Michael:

    I guess that was more than 2 cents. I'll keep my feet on Hawaii grounds, too windy to sail, I would get sea sick. I am glad for what I have, how little is better than not having anything at all.