Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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The long and short of it

Q: In South Korea, parents are so certain that height is crucial to success that they are taking their children to growth clinics. Do certain physical attributes give people an advantage as they strive for success in the workplace? Are short people at a disadvantage in business or politics or other endeavors?

There are indeed certain physical characteristics that can affect our ability to succeed, and height is one of them. Data show that taller men and women tend to earn more money than those who are less tall. Among those who play professional basketball, of course, height is more than just an asset -- it's almost a requirement.

It's hard to say why tall people outside of professional basketball players have an advantage. Maybe being tall gives one more confidence. After all, people literally have look up to them in order to make eye contact.

But there are plenty of examples of successful people who are not tall. Secretary of State Madelyn Albright was never one to be intimidated by the height of others. James Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution," was only 5-feet-4. The physical stature of Robert Reich or Napoleon Bonaparte did not interfere with their success, either. They just had too much talent.

Sigmund Freud wrote about "overcompensation" as a way that a person brings about equilibrium by focusing on excellence in other areas. So, if you feel challenged by your height, take heart: There is hope, and well as plenty of role models for success!

By Jan Scruggs  |  January 4, 2010; 4:53 PM ET  | Category:  physical appearance Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I am of average height but it never bothered me because I was extremely powerfully built (in my heyday) and couldn't care less how tall my opponent was. In fact, the taller they were the longer their way to the ground. Certainly I was never intimidated by height, what an absurd idea.

Posted by: RichardHode | January 5, 2010 4:01 PM
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I love being short! Vive' la difference!

Posted by: dgw1091 | January 5, 2010 9:44 AM
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I love being tall.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | January 5, 2010 8:38 AM
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