The Measure of Success… by Nancy Brophy

This year I started a new job with a company which boasts it has more women earning over $250,000 than any other company. Is this true? I don’t know, but it is an interesting claim. Like many of you, I watched the Makers Documentary  about the changes in women’s roles in society over the past fifty plus years. It is easy to forget the past.

But this film jogged my memory. I can remember being between jobs and as a measure of desperation deciding to take the Civil Service Test. The man who helped me hired no one. His job was to hand out requested material. When I asked what positions were available he wanted to know if I could type. I responded by asking him if I’d been male, would he have asked the same question?

I never did take that test. But in truth I doubt that working for the government was ever my destiny.

There are some universal truths about people. We hunt obsessively for signs to help us interpret our lives and others. For example there have always been predictions about physical aspects of men. Big feet equate to bigger body parts elsewhere. At the risk of rudeness I do want to point out if that were true, women would only date men who wore clown shoes.

I read an article today in the blog section of the Huffington Post entitled, How to Tell If A Woman is Going to Be Successful In Business by Ashley Merryman and Bo Branson, authors of Top Dog: the Science of Winning and Losing.

The usual culprits blamed for the lack of venture-funded female entrepreneurs are that most women don’t have enough technical expertise to succeed and/or that, at its core, Silicon Valley must be a sexist boys’ club. But focusing on those arguments — as legitimate as they may be — means we can forget to consider any other explanations. And it really doesn’t help us understand an even more interesting version of the question: why do some women break through?

Apparently like big feet, the ratio of the index finger to the ring finger is a determinate. Look at your right hand, palm up. Is your ring finger longer than your index finger or vice versa? According to the article:

…the ratio of index to ring finger correlates with traits such as spatial ability, risk-taking, and assertiveness. It’s connected to success in competitive sports like soccer and skiing.

The most successful entrepreneurs had ring fingers 10% to 20% longer than their index finger.

Okay, that lets me out.

My ring finger is definitely shorter than my index finger. However the article does go on to say that even if this is true it only accounts for 40-60% of success. I’m assuming some success is attributed to drive, ambition and opportunity.

The thing I found most interesting about this study and even my day job is how one defines “Success” in business. Is success  measured only financially? Genre writing for the most part does not pay well. There are a few break-out writers, but most are considered mid-list, at best.

I like my new job. I like the lack of glass ceiling, but I love writing. Am I a successful writer? I think so, but financially it doesn’t pay the bills. Do I fail to qualify by someone else’s rules? What do think?


Posted on March 2, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Great post, Nancy! Nice to see your writing and the supportive comments.


  2. Staring at my hand . . . I am doomed! LOL. Great post, Nancy!


  3. Good post, Madame President! I agree, money isn’t everything. Nearly everything I’ve ever written has been published for free and I got such satisfaction and fulfillment from the writing itself. Put an idea out into the world and people read it and respond to it…… that’s the real payoff. I did love my own government career (I was lucky not to run into the joykill guy that you met), but the rewards are very different being a writer, blogger, and blatherer.


  4. After reading your post, I wanted to see that documentary and apparently it’s streaming online if you missed it on OPB


  5. Thank you for your comments. I’m relieved to know other’s ponder this besides me. And Gina, I agree with you. There is no way Su’s been up for several hours and not had coffee.


  6. I think we all share the ‘quit the day job and write full time’ dream. I know I do. But success can’t be measured in dollar signs alone. Finding joy in life is a kind of success all on it’s own, and when you’re passionate about what you do, you know a kind of joy many people will never experience. You finish your stories, publish them, and have readers who enjoy them. That is success. Congrats!


  7. Loved the post Nancy! Never heard about the length of fingers in measuring success in certain things. That was interesting, as was the entire post! I enjoy the company and people I work with at my day job – would I quit in a hot minute if I could support myself writing? A resounding YES! Glad you’re enjoying your new job, and that you love writing.
    ~ Viola


  8. Financial success shouldn’t be the only measure as far as I’m concerned. If you can pay your bills, have a good working relationship with your co-workers and can enjoy your leisure time, with family & friends – then that is success. If you lose sight of what is really important by racing toward a large financial goal you missed the point!


  9. A) What’s the article say if they’re exactly the same length? I’ll go find out. Shame on you for making this dog hunt on a Saturday. And B) I find it very hard to believe that it’s 8:16a and Su hasn’t had coffee yet. I think someone’s pants are smoking.


  10. It’s 8:16a on a Saturday morning and here I am checking out the length of my fingers, lol. The first thought I had was, which hand? Dominant or non-dominant. Thanks for that mind teaser before I’ve even have coffee.

    I find my self asking the same questions. The day job does what it’s supposed to do. I’m horrendously grateful to have it. I LOVE writing, and oddly enough almost every aspect of it in this new environment. Will it ever be my sole income? I hope so.

    Great post, Nancy!


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