Fire in their Bellies

Every survey of young knowledge workers – physicians in the Army Medical Corps, chemists in the research lab, accountants or engineers in the plant, nurses in the hospitals – produces the same results. The ones who are enthusiastic and who, in turn, have results to show for their work, are the ones whose abilities are being challenged and used. Those that are deeply frustrated all say, in one way or another: “My abilities are not being put to use.”

The young knowledge worker whose job is too small to challenge and test his abilities either leaves or declines rapidly into premature middle-age, soured, cynical, unproductive. Executives everywhere complain that many young people with fire in their bellies turn so soon into burned-out sticks. They have only themselves to blame: They quenched the fire by making the young man’s job too small.

-Peter Drucker, “The Effective Executive”

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