Some conversations abruptly remind you of who you used to be. It can be a sentence, or in my case, a single phrase that brings all of those memories flooding back — taking away any present moment awareness.
A colleague said to me one phrase recently:
“He’s an alpha male.”
The person I was in my early 20’s came back for a playdate in my head.
It was the person that used to humiliate charities that would come door-knocking at our startup for donations and who would then feel the need to embarrass the volunteer in front of all the staff. That person was wealthy, entitled, arrogant and had rock-bottom self-esteem.
He was an alpha male too.
My colleague suggested that if I wanted to take part in a business opportunity, I needed to play to this person’s alpha male persona.
“Yeah, tell him how he’s losing to his biggest competitor by not talking to you. That will spark his alpha male side again,” she said.
The look on my face said it all. All I wanted to do was get as far away from this alpha male as possible. Playing the alpha male game, as a former participant in the sport, was not an option that seemed like much fun.
No one has to lose for you to win
What scares me about becoming an alpha male again is the thought of having to see someone lose so I can win. What’s the point of one of the biggest catchphrases in business history “win-win” if the goal is to see someone lose.
Win-win is a famous saying because it’s true. When we win collaboratively, we can create something far bigger together beyond the initial concept. Seeing people lose is not a fun feeling. You will be that person that loses one day. I never thought I’d lose my job until it happened to me.
Now, I have a whole different understanding of what unemployment means. It has made me never want to see people lose their job again.
It’s happening to “them” until it’s one day happening to you.
Be afraid of seeing people lose, not seeing them win. Winning is good.
It’s not a race
Being an alpha male is a sport because it’s about competing for first place. Alpha males want to be the leader of the wolf pack, although it’s not for the benefit of the wolves; it’s for their own.
Life is not a race. Your timeline is different from the next person. One person might make a million dollars by the age of twenty and not get married until they’re fifty, and another person might get married at twenty and start travelling the world later in life.
We are all on a different part of the timeline in each area of our life. If you’re really far ahead in one area, there’s another area you totally suck in.
The need to race someone or compete with them is a naive approach that forgets we are all at different stages of life.
There is no winner in life. We all lose at the end of the game because we die.
The fears of an alpha male
Alpha males, from experience, are afraid to lose money or status. Both define who they are and the level of their alpha male status.
The subtle reality that is missed is that by losing your money and status, you get to start again — you’re reborn.
By starting again, you realize many things that you didn’t understand before and so losing everything is a pleasant outcome, not one to be avoided. Those who never lose never get the magic gift of being humbled.
It was that gift of humbleness that helped me shed the alpha male persona for the rest of my life.
Being very direct thus being an asshole
“He’s very direct and doesn’t have time for losers,” she said.
While this reality may have been true based on my recent alpha male interaction, it’s sad in a way. When you are that direct, you sound like an asshole.
Being overly direct lacks compassion and patience. You end up sounding like some douche bag who thinks their time is money and everyone has to pay them for the privilege of having it.
Communicating without letting your ego do the talking brings you much closer to other human beings and that is bloody good for you.
Not being a loser
What defines if someone is a loser? It’s an unthoughtful label attached to people that you rarely know properly.
The alpha male uses the label of “loser” in a game that only they understand. No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to be a loser today!”
People deal with hard times and have life punch them in the face. Attaching the label of “loser” to them completely ignores what really happens and it doesn’t put you above them because of it. Those people that alpha males call losers end up making an enormous comeback and achieving levels of success that seem impossible to an alpha male.
The alpha male often describes success as either luck or cheating. It’s not either. It’s the human spirit.
The drive to succeed leads to burnout
The obsession of the alpha male to succeed causes them to work crazy hours and go to extreme lengths to reach whatever goal they have set for themselves.
Take it from a former alpha male that this way of living only leads to burnout that no amount of coffee or pills can cure.
“Go, go, go” for the sake of it so that you can win some ball game in your head, makes you do stupid things that will burn out even the toughest alpha male with a six-pack and aviator sunglasses.
We all need to take breaks. That’s not a loser speaking; that’s the truth.
Selfishness leads to an unpleasant place, eventually
The alpha male path to success can be an incredibly selfish one. By attaching your success to the desire to win, you become selfish.
Selfishness pushes you away from the people that can help you and that is a lonely place. If all you do is be selfish, you’ll feel a lack of joy and fulfilment in your life. If this persists for long enough, it can lead to a dark place.
I have been to that dark place and it’s called mental illness. It’s a life where your thoughts trap you in an imaginary prison cell that you can’t get out of and every move you make is the wrong one because the illness says so.
If what you are looking for is to get the most out of life, be selfless, understanding, less competitive and focused on how you fit into the broader puzzle that is humanity.
Life is not all about our individual goals and the achievements that follow. That’s the misconception of the alpha male.
See the context of your existence as a game that we play together where there is no winner, only a medal for participation.
There’s more to the game of life than winning.