Redefining What it Means to be ALPHA
One of the questions I’ve been getting asked a lot is about the title of my new book, Man 2.0 Engineering the Alpha: A Real World Guide to an Unreal Life. Some parts of it are very self-explanatory—with Man 2.0, you know right off the bat that we’re talking about helping men evolve into a better version of themselves. The book will help men do that.
I also think that “an unreal life” is fairly obvious: we want to men live the kind of life they’ve only dreamed of, a life so awesome that it seems like it just can’t be real. But it is. This book will help men do that, because it will help them identify, understand, and solve many of the problems plaguing them—problems that every man is struggling with, on a global scale. You’ll find many of the solutions in the first three chapters alone.
The part of the title that most people ask about is the middle—Engineering the Alpha. On the one hand, it’s clear that we want to help every man turn into an Alpha; that’s not the part that causes confusion. The part that confuses people is the word “alpha” itself—what does that mean? Is it a good thing? Is it bad?
Here’s the problem: ALPHA is a term that comes with a lot of connotations, many of them negative. My goal is to reclaim it—to redefine what it means to be an Alpha, make it a positive term that bespeaks a level of high evolution and purpose.
In order for you to fully grasp our meaning and definition of what it means to be an Alpha, we must first strip away everything that is currently tied to that word and idea.
The general perception of an alpha male is someone who is…well, kind of an asshole. The guy who is strong and confident but also domineering and cocky. As it is currently understood, the alpha male tries to elevate himself, often by tearing others down.
In film and on TV, we portray this archetypal alpha as the good-looking quarterback who picks on nerds to impress cheerleaders, a guy who acts like an asshole to hide deeper insecurities. The public perception is someone who actively seeks to be better than others and then prove that he is.
The commonly portrayed Alpha Male is, troublingly, a mix of generally positive traits executed in a negative way. But even so, my issue with the perception of the Alpha male is not that he’s kind of a bully; it’s the fact that that title that draws its power from others. And that’s not how you create success.
You see, to be an Alpha male in the traditional sense simply means the most dominant within a group, or the strongest in a group or the most confident in a group. Not a person who is necessarily strong or confident in the absolute sense; just someone who, in a given group of people, most outwardly projects strength or confidence. In other words, the problem with the definition of Alpha isn’t really the assumed aggression or implied cockiness; it’s the fact that the entire foundational principle for self-value is comparative analysis.
In my view, that’s an incredibly dangerous mindset—if your goal is to be the alpha male in the traditional sense, it means you’re trying to be better than other people; your entire assessment of self is based on where you fall relative to others in this imagine hierarchy that exists in your mind. Moreover, the current idea of being alpha is that it’s not just based on comparative analysis, but also on comparative improvement. And that’s a hollow approach to motivation and fulfillment.
As you must have surmised by now, that is not what I mean when I talk about being an Alpha. We want to take back the concept of The Alpha and use it as we believe it should be used. The Alpha is someone who is not just assertive, but evolved.
In fact, I believe that the Alpha is the most evolved version of you. This is not about being an AMOG—the Alpha Male of the Group. That’s an unfulfilling approach. Just think about it. Your mindset isn’t, “I want to be good” or “I want to be better.” It’s, “I want to be better than the other guys in the room.” That approach makes it hard to every feel achievement or success.
I want to rally against that. I submit that you need to focus on internal drivers or else you’re creating a recipe for a lack of satisfaction and fulfillment. You want to focus on the things you can control. And the number one thing you can control…is you.
While all men have a competitive drive to be the best in the room, those who are more highly evolved desire much more strongly to be the best version of themselves. I want you to judge yourself against only yourself. I want you to achieve success that you strive for; that you want; constantly trying to improve internally and externally because you want to be better than you were and—not be better than someone else. That is being The Alpha.
If you walk into this life with any other motivation than wanting to be better than you then you are doomed to failure. And if you can’t accept that defining yourself only be comparison to others isn’t an impediment to self-actualization and happiness, then you will have difficulty reaching the goals you desire and living a fulfilled life.
All in all, my book is concerned largely with helping you improve various areas of your life. It will make you stronger, healthier, and fitter. But it will also make you smarter. The tools in this book will allow you to affect physiological changes that will enhance everything from sex drive to brain function. Above all, this book is largely concerned with helping you to become the best version of yourself.
Or, as I call it, becoming The Alpha version of you.
We’re going to start right now. I’m going to give you a series of traits that govern the behavior of an evolved man; a man who takes the natural competitive drive inherent in the masculine psyche and directs it towards the fulfillment lofty goals and the accomplishment of great things, rather than wastes it on petty envy. These are the traits you’ll find in a man who’s looking to make himself better so that he can best serve the world—the traits of an Alpha.
We understand the Alpha has some connotations that are hard to break. That’s why we want to define the traits so you understand what it really means to be the Alpha. Your evolution will depend on remembering that the poison is in the dose. We’ve identified the traits, but ultimately the Alpha understands when to turn these traits on and off, and when pushing too far leads down a path that is harmful to you and others. We’ll show you those barriers, but it’s up to you to draw the line and stay the path.
The drive to become successful isn’t simply a means to a narcissistic and individualistic end. The Alpha understands that taking care of his primary goals is only part of creating the life he wants; the other half is influencing and shaping the world he lives in. It’s taking what you’ve learned—the good and the bad—and being able to pay that knowledge forward and make the world a better place. That is the foundation of this entire book: take the lessons we have learned about how to create an unreal life, combine them with your own life lessons to create your own version, and share them.
But being helpful has its limits. The Alpha gives advice and encourages others, but he does not look to do things for them. He understands that they need to do things on their own, and while they sometimes may need assistance—whether with advice or guidance—the Alpha realizes that if he were to overstep his bounds and solve the problems for them, they wouldn’t learn. The Alpha doesn’t micromanage the people in his life. That’s not being helpful; that’s being condescending. That is assuming that his own ability to solve problems supersedes that of everyone else.
Believing that you are the only one who can fix things is the height of egotism, the proverbial, “If you want something done right, just do it yourself.” This mind-set is one of the most damaging opinions you can have. By doing tasks for others, you’re removing their ability to help themselves advance, limiting their growth potential, and imposing your will on them in a way that is not helpful but damaging.
While being helpful is important, trying to be too helpful can go too far. If you are trying to do everything for everyone, you’re not saying, “I want you to succeed.” What you really mean is, “I don’t think you can do it.” It’s an insult wrapped in a facade of kindness. The Alpha is a leader and a motivator but always in the context of letting the people you’re helping blaze their own path.
That applies to us, and this book, as well. We don’t think we have all the answers, but we know we have some of them. We’ve discovered certain traits, characteristics, and triggers that can serve as a guideline to help you master the circumstances that dictate your life. And so the purpose of this book is not to solve all your problems for you—it’s to give you the tools to solve them yourself.
We’ll show you the elements that will make you stronger, smarter, and more confident. These attributes will improve how you look, help you at your job, and boost your sex life—but only when you take those lessons and apply them in your own manner. Keep that in mind for everything you learn; you must apply knowledge in a way that works for you.
The previous incarnation of the alpha was always thought of as cocky. As we already stated, you know the alpha male as the guy who put others down to elevate himself. The redefined Alpha is not characterized by some overt cockiness that is projected to hide deeper insecurities but rather by a true confidence, an honest assessment of his strengths and weaknesses as well as what he can immediately achieve and what he needs to work on. The true Alpha doesn’t need to put others down to feel better. His assessment of self isn’t defined by a comparative analysis. It’s an internal drive that fuels motivation and success.
Therefore, the Alpha elevates others to display his confidence in his ability to share thoughts, ideas, and plans that can positively influence the world around him and the people in it. If you have good ideas, you should share them. If you think you can help people, then you should take action. If you think you’re the right guy for a woman, then you should prove it to her. This is what confidence enables—taking action in every form possible. But that action should never be used to denigrate another individual. When you accept who you are, and appreciate who you can be, your confidence immediately becomes much more genuine, your insecurities become less potent, you create more control, and you experience more success.
Listen, there should be an understanding that good-looking people can go a little farther in this world. It’s not a hard-line rule, but it is a general observation that has been proven over and over again. English researchers found that men who are rated as more attractive also happen to make more money in their jobs and have higher positions. This is just a correlation, but it’s not the only study that has recognized the relationship.
A little bit of vanity is a good thing because it’s really just a manifestation of wanting to take care of yourself. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you exude an energy that improves your world and the world of the people you interact with.
Just like extreme cockiness is the bad side of confidence, the downside of vanity is when it progresses to conceit. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be ridiculously good-looking. The problems only begin when you start believing that because you’re good-looking—or more muscular or leaner or smarter or wealthier—that you’re better than everyone, on anyone else. That’s conceit.
The Alpha understands this differentiation. He doesn’t want to improve his body to be better than others. Instead, the focus is about the feelings of achievement that go along with reshaping his body. The process of self-improvement makes him feel better as a means of inspiring his confidence and building a precedent of success. As you’ll find out in the book, creating physical success is a gateway to generating success in every other aspect of your life.
The Alpha knows this and realizes that while looks or brains or money or muscles may give him an edge, they don’t make him a better person. His value is determined by his actions and what he does for other people and the world.
The difference between pride and arrogance is a fine line but one that separates those men who inspire from those considered assholes. Everything depends on how you react to your success. Do you share your successes as a means to promote more creative and progressive thought—or do you expect things to happen because of what you’ve already accomplished?
Arrogance is assuming that because you’ve reached a certain level that you’re entitled to certain privileges and opportunities. People who rest on their laurels are arrogant. On the other hand, pride is acknowledging your success but always retaining the mind-set of an intern. You have to earn every opportunity, hustle for every success, and prove yourself over and over again—no matter who you are and what you’ve done previously.
The difference between these two qualities is easily differentiated. Do you talk about your prior successes as a means to create new opportunities for yourself and others, or is it done with the expectation that people will automatically react with reverence and feel humbled in your presence? Are you looking to always work hard—on your projects or partnerships—or are you simply looking for an easy path to completion?
The Alpha understands that pride is an essential part of self-actualization. You can’t improve yourself and the world you live in if you don’t acknowledge your success. This is change psychology that depends on reinforcement. You need to believe you are good, and the only way to do that is to reference what you’ve done right. At the same time, pointing to prior success shouldn’t change the fundamental drive to become better or the effort you put in during that process.
In the end, the difference is simple. Pride is the province of the Alpha who has done and will continue to do great things—and arrogance is the calling card of dickheads and pretenders who are simply masquerading as power players.
The drive to avoid arrogance can swing too far and bring you to a place where you no longer value yourself or what you achieve. Just as pride is important for acknowledging your successes, humility is equally important for confessing how hard it was to become better and accepting that you may not be the best and have a lot of work to do to get where you want to go.
Humility is important. It keeps us sane. It keeps us grounded. Most importantly, it keeps us hungry. Understanding that you are smart is essential to building the confidence you need to achieve; reminding yourself that you’re not Einstein is a strong driver that will help you learn more and become even smarter. But thinking that because you’re not Einstein means you’re patently stupid, well, that goes past the point of humility and dips into self-loathing.
This dark side can manifest itself in a way that is truly self-destructive. When you become self-loathing, you venture into a universe where you are incapable of taking pride or credit for any success. Self-loathers genuinely lack so much confidence that anything that is accomplished is never seen as a direct result of their effort, time, or contributions. They’re paralyzed by a belief that no matter what they do, they are simply not good enough. Self-loathers downplay achievements, direct praise only toward others, and castigate themselves for all shortcomings and failures. In other words, the highs are still considered valleys, and the lows can drive confidence to the depths of hell.
The Alpha understands that anyone who can’t be a little self-deprecating is taking life—and himself—too seriously. He’s humble and hungry, but he gives himself credit where it’s due. And he never, ever loses faith in himself.
We probably don’t need to tell you this, but you’re going to have to put up with some shit in life. Whether it’s with friends, loved ones, coworkers, or bosses, part of life is dealing with crap. It’s an inevitable fact that no one can avoid. Patience and tolerance are essential to understanding your place in the world, as is being comfortable with opposing opinions and beliefs. Your opinion is not the only one that matters, and your job is not to convince everyone to see the world as you do.
Whether it’s in the office or at the bar, you can’t be argumentative with everything that goes against your worldview and values. You have to be tolerant of people’s mistakes, shortcomings, and personal opinions. Doing otherwise is being narrow-minded and an asshole. And you don’t want to be an asshole.
At the same time, there are lines in life. And if people cross them—whether repeatedly or egregiously—you have to be willing to put your foot down. This doesn’t always mean being aggressively confrontational; in many situations, the Alpha displays his tolerance by addressing inappropriate behaviors with helpful solutions. In the workplace, when people are screwing up, punishing them for their mistakes is not always the best way to fix the solution. Addressing the problem and providing an alternative path to help them become better is an approach that works best for everyone.
Other times, a more aggressive approach is needed. Within the working world, you’ll inevitably have a boss or superior who will go above and beyond to make your life miserable. You should feel empowered to address these behaviors in a way that improves the situation. In these moments, you need to be aggressive and confident. You need to confront the problem, lay the cards on the table, and leave your adversary with no choice but to see the situation that has been created and the steps that need to be taken. As the Alpha, you should always be thinking about solutions, not problems. And in the most extreme cases, this might mean you need to be able to walk away and find a different job.
Part of being the Alpha is understanding that the toxicity in the world around you can literally make you a less evolved person, making you more unhappy and thereby negatively impacting every related aspect of your life.
Determine your morals and values. Remind yourself that not every disagreement is a point of contention. But remember that being tolerant is not an excuse to sacrifice the core of who you are. The Alpha inspires the world around him to become better, and that can’t happen if you’re too fearful to voice your opinion and settle for a life where you’re always the bitch.
We’re all familiar with the image of the workaholic. You know him as the guy who stays late at the office and works himself to the bone. Doesn’t matter if it’s Monday at eleven a.m. or Saturday at two a.m.—the workaholic is a machine designed for one purpose: getting shit done.
On one hand, we admire these people. There’s something to be said about a great work ethic, hustle, and desire to take on seemingly impossible projects. On the other hand, there’s an aspect of the workaholic that we pity. That’s because there’s a fine line between dedication and obsession, and knowing where to draw that line makes all the difference between whether your hustle and grit are virtuous traits or deleterious characteristics that cause you to lose sight of what’s really important in your life.
The difference between dedication and obsession is that dedicated people work themselves toward a point of achievement. The Alpha outlines goals so there is a quantitative or qualitative way of determining success. This is what keeps him humble and hungry but also prevents him from endlessly chasing more work and spiraling into obsessions. The obsessed are those who can’t pull themselves away from their desks. They focus infinitely on one thing and one thing only, so much so that everything else important in their life becomes blurred or diluted, or at worst disappears. The obsessed oftentimes possess another dangerous trait—being self-loathing.
In order to draw the line, the Alpha understands that being dedicated means approaching goals like a sprint, in bursts of concentrated effort. Obsession is a marathon, a life spent chained to a treadmill chasing a carrot with no hope of ever feeling satisfied—and that unfulfilled feeling laces the very essence of everything in life.
The French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne once wrote, “Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.” While this is true in the sense that the top 1 percent of 1 percent of all achievements might be unlocked by only a single-minded pursuit, madness is the more common consequence of obsession. It leaves you bitter, empty, and alone. Alphas are dedicated to their families, friends, health, and most of all to themselves. They are dedicated to improvement, but they are not tied to a narcissistic view that impairs their ability to create a rich, multifaceted existence.
The above traits are, in my view, not a code of behavior that you must adhere to, but rather a standard of being that you should aspire to. You should want to be confident and helpful. You should want to stay humble and be dedicated. You should strive to be tolerant, but not weak. And you shouldn’t be afraid of a little vanity.
These things, taken together, are what makes and Alpha. Not being a bully or making other people feel bad. By focusing on these things, you’re focusing on being the best version of yourself. So, if you want to achieve #alphastatus, and truly make an impact on the world, start with these.
Of course—reading the book wouldn’t hurt, either (winkwinknudgenudge, nah mean?)
Oh, look! A link to order the book! How’d that get there?
Sweet trailer, right?
The book is on sale now–and if you pick it up before April 20th, you’ll be helping me hit my goal of hitting #1 New York Times bestseller. Your support means the world to me.