In bulletproof times, even an idiot knows to put his head down and act as if he’s working. But acting will get you only so far; you need to be useful. Luckily, being useful is mostly just doing the job your employer is paying you to do. Except, you know, actually doing it. And all that stuff you’ve been slacking off on or avoiding or pawning off on other people, such as giving your boss bad news or calling a client about an outstanding invoice? Well, now you have to do that, too. And finally, you have to actively look for ways to do more.

That’s right. It’s time to become Mr. or Ms. Above and Beyond. The one who knows how to balance what you’re paid to do with a strategic handful of “stretch” efforts—better known as extra credit—that ...

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