We had a very talented reporter who would phone it in every once in awhile. Our Executive Producer who ask her why she didn't do this or that, and she always had some sort of excuse. The EP had a great line about this: "Excuses are little lies we tell ourselves."
If you've ever failed to use a tripod because you were tired, failed to edit nat sound into your package because you didn't bother to look for it, failed to get a graphic made for a numbers story because it was a lot of trouble, you've lied to yourself.
While we all have days when we just don't feel 100 percent, we have to suck it up and get tough when the story is on the line. As I said to an anchor once, "You may not feel like working today, but as far as the public is concerned, you just have to be on your game for 22 minutes."
Remember that old tacky Bill Parcells quote: "Don't tell me about the pain, show me the baby." In other words, the end result is all that matters. Nobody cares that you didn't feel well, didn't want to haul the tripod up the steps, didn't like the guy in the graphics department.
If you honestly want to get better, it's a full time job. You can't just work on putting nat sound in your packages one day out of five.
It's important to make yourself a checklist, and have it with you every day. If you constantly forget to get nat sound, make a note. Makes notes of everything you need to work on, then make sure you've got all those elements before you head back to the station.
Getting better often takes more effort than getting the story.