I’ve been telling people that your number one job is to not disappear. It’s maddeningly easy to disappear, the stage trapdoor remains open. I’ve been repeating it with wild gestures, whenever someone breaks up with their famous cofounder, I’ve been waxing ex cathedra, when friends leave buzzing cities, upscale jobs: Do not disappear. It is maddeningly easy to disappear—people come and go, a flash, a blink, and then are heard no more.
Professionally, you can always contribute to morale no matter what position you’re in. If you’re part of a team, it doesn’t cost a cent to be the one with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you have to kiss your boss’s ass or be fake. You just have to stay upbeat about things. Be the person who doesn’t bitch or moan when you get a tough job or assignment. Be the person who is smiling and open to interacting with co-workers instead of putting on headphones and hiding behind a computer screen. Be diplomatic, and try to identify a resolution when your co-workers aren’t getting along.
That means going to the office, or meeting people in person. Showing up. Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein write in Springfield Confidential:
I got the Simpsons job the same way I got a wife: I was not the first choice, but I was available.
Effectively, Mike and his writing partner Al Jean were passed over for a job which hired his two other friends, so they settled for a job the friends had turned down, which was The Simpsons.
Mike took the job and wouldn’t tell anyone what he was doing. He writes, “After eight years writing for films, sitcoms, and even Johnny Carson, I was now working on a cartoon. I was twenty-eight years old and I thought I’d hit rock bottom.” Decades later, we know how that story turns out.