Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mailvox: the essence of Alpha

So, what is it? What makes other guys roll over and pee themselves when an Alpha male rolls up? - Nesselrode5

Please clarify the definition of Alpha Male. And, further, please give the five steps to becoming one. I know, I know, you'll say it's inborn and can't be learned, that it's a magical quality that you either have or you don't. Well, let's just pretend that it could be learned: What do I need to do? How do I need to act? - Grendelizer

The essence of Alpha is a projected aura of dominance. This dominance can be material, physical, intellectual, spiritual or even emotional, and yet mere wealth, size, intelligence, saintliness or rage are not alone sufficient to provide it, regardless of the amount possessed by the individual. This dominance is usually strong enough to be sensed by others, even when it is not being openly displayed.

Others defer to the Alpha because of this dominance whether he seeks it or not. Even when they don't really want the Alpha's opinion, they will seek his approval and it will bother them when they don't receive it. (Note, seeking approval under the guise of asking for advice can be extremely annoying. Don't do it.)

The factors that others have mentioned, confidence and so forth, are actually ramifications of this dominance rather than definitive factors in themselves. But in cases where group politics or situational complexities make it difficult for the dominance to be readily apparent, two ramifications that can serve as useful identifying factors are decisiveness and the willingness to accept responsibility for those decisions.

This is how one can easily see when a person in a position of authority is not, despite the power that is at their disposal, an Alpha. They shun decision-making, attempt to lay the burden off on others or postpone it until events dictate actions, all the while hoping to evade the potential consequences. The Alpha, on the other hand, being used to others always looking to him, accepts his responsibility and expects to make decisions as a matter of course.

I think the military does an excellent job of creating faux Alphas. One often does not realize that they are not true Alphas until they are put in positions of responsibility outside the military and their natural personalities come to the fore. Therefore, those attempting to mimic Alpha behavior in the interest of improving their job or personal status would do well to look at how the military goes about creating its leaders. I know the Marine OCS attempts to instill bravery, self-respect, self-discipline, self-confidence and decisiveness in its officers, so I suspect that those would be the ideal attributes to foster.

As for five steps towards developing quasi-Alpha status, here are my suggestions:

1. Betray no signs of doubt or fear. This does not mean clinging to untenable positions, but calmly stick to your position until you are proven demonstrably wrong. If it is so demonstrated, concede at once and admit your error.

2. Do not concern yourself with what others think. That's their job. You do your own thinking and do them the courtesy of allowing them to do theirs. If they require assistance, they can ask.

3. Never bluff. If you don't know, admit it. "I don't know" may perhaps be the most self-empowering phrase in the English language. I don't understand precisely why, but people have a strong tendency to respect and even fear those who do what they say they will do.

4. Be decisive. When a decision is required, make it immediately. If more information is genuinely required - it usually isn't - then make a tentative decision pending the receipt of the additional information. If you are asked for a decision, make one even if you don't personally care one way or another. Often you are not being asked for your preference or your expertise, you are being asked to shoulder the burden of decision-making

5. Accept responsibility and consequences, even when it isn't your fault.

From a physical standpoint, lifting weights and increasing your body strength will not only improve your appearance and your posture, but increases your psychological sense of self as well. Breast implants often seem to provide a similar effect for women.

None of this will cause women to want you and men to respect you immediately. But reliably behaving in this manner will color your interactions in such a way that others will begin to defer to you and raise your social status. It's really not about looks or brains or things, it's primarily about dominance and deference.

Here's an example. Prior to meeting me for the first time, an old girlfriend of the White Buffalo asked him why he spoke about me the way he did, because she'd seen his pictures and she was (correctly) of the opinion that I wasn't even one of his two best-looking friends at the time. Nor was I the tallest, the strongest or the wealthiest. But he laughed and told her that if she simply talked to me for half an hour, she'd find herself obediently taking her pants off if I told her to.

I was unaware of this, although I do remember her being intensely conversational the first time we met, and I was tremendously amused when the WB explained why she'd been so interested in talking to me. It was even more amusing, of course, to learn that she was in accordance with his assessment of the situation.


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