Promotion was rapid. No position was retained more than six months. In five years he had occupied nearly every subordinate position in the sales department, and was promoted to the head of the mail-order section.
His fertility in originating plans, his schemes, his booklets, and advertising copy brought results with regularity. He became known as a man who could ``put the thing over'' in a pinch, with a vigor and enthusiasm that seemed irresistible. He fairly earned his standing as the live wire among executives of the second rank.
So, when the general sales manager resigned,
there was no question but that this young man
should succeed him. He had been a personal
friend of his predecessor, had co
This apparently favorable condition was the very reason for his lack of success in the new work. There was not the novelty in this position that there had been in his former successive positions. In such an executive position, it was not a question of taking care of an emergency demand, but of organization, of establishing routine, of organizing bigger campaigns. Before the end of the first season it became evi-
dent that the new sales manager was not making good. Everything--organization, discipline, routine system, ginger--had deserted him. Neither he himself nor his employers, however, found the real cause. ``I have lost my grip,'' he told the general manager. ``I am worn out and of no further use to this business.''
Furthermore he thought he was of no use to any business. But he made a connection with a big house which had a large advertising campaign on its hands. He threw himself into the task of recasting the firm's selling literature, the planning of new campaigns, and the reorganization of the correspondence department. Within the year, he had duplicated on a magnified scale his early triumphs with his first employers. Moreover, he continued this record of efficiency the second year, thus entirely refuting the fear of himself and his friends that he would ``last less than a year'' and that he lacked staying power.
His first employer described the case for me
the other day, requesting that I discover the reason for the young man's initial failure among friends and his subsequent triumph in a new environment. He had kept in close touch with the other's progress and supplied a hundred details which helped to make the situation clear. Finally, after consideration, he agreed with my diagnosis that his young friend's falling off in efficiency--his plateau--had been due to the exhaustion of novelty interest in his work.
His first success was built on a long series of separate plans or ``stunts,'' each of which was begun and executed in a burst of creative enthusiasm. His first few months' achievement as sales manager was due to the same stimulus, but as the months went by the spur of novelty became dulled. Lacking the discipline which would have enabled him to force voluntary attention and the resulting interest in his tasks, he failed also to trace the cause of his flagging invention and energy and assumed that this was due to exhaustion of his resources.
This is further borne out by his experience in his present position. Addressing a succession of new tasks, the interest of novelty has stimulated him to an uncommon degree and produced an unbroken record of high efficiency. That this has continued over a considerable period is partly due, beyond doubt, to the sustained interest in his work excited by the broadness of the field before him, the bigness of the company, the size of the appropriation at his disposal, the unusual experience of scoring hit after hit by comparison with the house's low standards, the frank and prompt appreciation of his superiors, and substantial advances in salary.
It is only human to be more or less dependent upon novelty.