The “Pull My Finger” Divide

Pull My FingerThe Classic Prank

I think all American men pranked sisters, classmates, and friends with “pull my finger” when they were younger.    And when I say all men I mean it.  Bankers, mechanics, leaders in business, politicians, religious leaders, military, doctors, lawyers, educators, you name it…they were all pesky little boys who had the need to irritate some little girl.   As men they don’t even have to use their own finger.  They can use the smart phone app Pull My Finger, Pro Edition.  I assume there is an amateur edition since this is the pro edition.

The paradox of the prank is that everyone knows what’s going to happen.  The prankster boldly promises that “it’s not what you think” to the intended victim. The victim eventually gives in, pulls a finger, and laughs in hilarity, disgust, or good humor at the very expected results.  The prankster delights in not only his comic but also his own musical talents.  The prankster relishes in this feeling as though he is Justin Timberlake winning two Emmys in one night.

The Divide of Pride

The splendor of the joke is the man’s ability to keep at it until he gets the person to “pull his finger” and then to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of his own labor.  The pure unabashed pride is at once comical and envious.  Think of it.  When was the last time, ladies, that you took such unabashed pride in your own accomplishments?  I’m guessing it’s been awhile.

Just this past week I have heard two statements from two different women that illustrate how we can easily underestimate our own abilities and accomplishments.

“I raised $200,000 in my job but I am not a professional fundraiser.”

“I don’t have any accomplishments from my 15 year career to highlight in my resume.”

These women were unable to see their own achievements never mind enjoy them.  And these are just two recent examples.  I have many more just as you probably have many from your own life.

The Divide of Promotion

The boy pranksters, now men, continue to delight in their skills and unabashedly promote them to others.  The little girls, now women, have not internalized the ability to make the generic, the base, and the ubiquitous seem brilliant.  Unfortunately, women (for the most part) have not internalized the ability to promote the unique, the honorable, or the scarce as brilliant either.  Somewhere between men’s over promotion and women’s under promotion is the reality of both sexes abilities.

Think of it.  None of us – man or woman – is completely confident maybe delusional but not 100% confident.   None of us is 100% correct.  Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter recently stated on a Larry King Special Dinner with the Kings,  “I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of mistakes and – and learned from ’em, and that’s what makes a successful company, that’s what makes a successful creative endeavor, is learning from your mistakes.”   In the same television program late night host Conan O’Brien late and Seth McFarland creator of Family Guy shared that they felt like frauds trying to get better so they would not be found out.

We all have been wrong.  We all have felt like frauds. The key to success is not to let these very human elements undermine us as we manage our own careers.  The key is being able to promote your talents and keep moving forward even when someone says no.  Next time you hear NO think of the little boys who keep coming up with different ways to get little girls to “pull my finger.” Surely, you have as much ability and creativity as those little boys to prevail at your quest.

© Copyright 2011 by Katie Donovan