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    Is height enough for success?

    Güven Sak, PhD24 January 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1381


    What is the secret of success in life? Is it the chemical process a fetus is exposed to that determines the future? Or, is what we call success is just the ability to take the opportunity, which is an ability that proves itself in any case? Of course, the mentioned "ability to take the opportunity" is not a gift of the nature, but it is to be nurtured.  But, how is it possible? How can one attain the ability to take the opportunity?  In fact, what Joseph Nye, an international relations professor at Harvard University defines "smart power" is exactly this "ability to take the opportunity" and is nothing but the product of a series of skills. And, nowadays, it is the "ability to take the opportunity" that Turkey needs.

    The news was published in British Financial Times daily on January 13, 2009. According to a study by researchers at Cambridge University, success in life depends on the length of the ring finger. The study suggested that people for which the length of index finger (2D) is close to ring finger (4D) will automatically be successful. The results of a study conducted in a bank revealed that as the (2D/4D) ratio decreased, people are eager to take more risks and give immediate decisions. Thanks to this, carrying out short term sale-purchase transactions, they can improve their profits. The people with the lowest (2D/4D) ratio made 680,000 pounds a year on average. The amount was 11 times higher than people with short ring fingers made. The results of the study backed the results of another study carried out with athletes, which indicated that athletes with longer ring fingers had a greater chance to win. Thus, the secret of success in life was the length of the ring finger. (Have you started to calculate the ratio right away. Are you starting to understand the truth?)

    Then, what makes the ring finger relatively longer or shorter? If during the gestation, baby is exposed to higher amounts of testosterone, lower 2D/4D ratio comes out. As the amount of the hormone increases, ring finger becomes relatively longer. Longer ring finger improves the ability to make decisions under pressure. Therefore, people with longer ring fingers are able to make risky decisions without getting into panic. This is the main framework of the study.

    In fact, these kinds of studies are conducted frequently. An earlier study indicated that the taller the CEO's of companies, the more money they made. According to the study, each extra one centimeter of height resulted in approximately 300 dollars of raise in salary. If one was 10 centimeters higher, he would earn 3000 dollars more. Moreover, he would become the leader of the business. It was enough for you to stand up and look around to solve the problems. Then, are the human beings completely same with the chimpanzees? Not really. Studies said so; however, what about Napoleon, Deng Xiaoping and Lenin, then? These leaders that attracted and moved masses did not have any height advantage. Then, being tall was not enough for being successful in life.

    Leadership success in human society seems to be closely related to the "ability to take the opportunity". And this ability is not determined by the chemical processes in the womb. If we summarize the concept through the "smart power" concept of Joseph Nye, "ability to take the opportunity" consists of five skills and the ability to accommodate those skills in accordance with the context. First skill is the emotional intelligence (EQ). A leader should first be able to master his emotions. Intellectual quotient (IQ) counts only for 20 percent of the success in life, while the remaining 80 percent corresponds to something else. Emotional intelligence refers to "knowing what to say and when to say it". It is not what you say defining who you are, it is how you say it.

    Second skill is having a vision of future. If one does not have a vision, he cannot be a leader. To be able make people follow you, you have to convey them an idea about where you are heading towards. It is apparent that, this skill is an extension of the first one: One that is aware of his targets can easily decide what to say and where to say it. Here, the important thing is not what you say, but deciding what to say in different situations, properly.

    The third skill is the ability to communicate. It does not solely refer to your verbal skills. You do not have to use the rhetoric or even give a speech to deliver a message. Nye mentions Gandhi as an example. Why is Gandhi, a high-income lawyer trained in Britain, was dressed up as an Indian peasant while he was leading the struggle of independence in India? We know that he was not used to dress up like that in his daily life. He dressed up like a peasant just to highlight the message. It is very crucial for a leader to communicate not only with verbs but also with using body language.

    Fourth dimension of leadership is the organizational skills. To be successful, intellectual and target-based leadership is not enough; you shall also have managerial skills. It is crucial to organize everyone around the target defined and then manage the daily course of that organization.

    The fifth skill is what Nye calls "Machiavellian political skills". In order to take the one you want, you have to be able to form temporary coalitions between a group of individuals with different views; sometimes nicely, sometimes by force.

    It is not enough to have the mentioned three soft and two hard powers to be successful. You as well have to use those properly under any situation and take the opportunity that the situations offer. Life consists of a subsequent series of "situations". The talent here is, to convey the message and develop a coalition as well as keeping in mind the target and using the right words under any situation. In other words, it is to benefit from the opportunity the situation offers. And this is the definition Joseph Nye provides for smart power.

    As you see, being tall is not enough for being successful. People with relatively longer ring fingers do not necessarily become good leaders. In human societies, it is crucial to "know who you are and what you do" to be successful. If you know who you are and what you want to do, you can identify the opportunity offered by the situation.

    This finding is relevant for both individuals and countries. If the country neither have a consistent policy framework nor a vision for future, that country cannot develop, engage in alliances, organize itself or demonstrate a discourse consistent with its targets. Such a country cannot take the opportunities, but gets dragged away from one situation to another. Turkey is an example of this especially since the judgment of the constitutional court in summer 2008. As I said before, being tall is not enough for being successful.


    This commentary was published in Referans daily on 24.01.2009