Alpha, Beta, and Omega (lowercase) are terms used to describe certain attributes and roles that are exhibited and carried out by mammals (generally) within their social sphere. All social animals have a hierarchy and rank in their community, and the terms ‘Alpha Male/Alpha Dog’ (upper case) are what is used to delineate the leader; that is, the first of all males in the community. Arguably males are either born alphas or betas. There are also such a thing as Alpha Females, which this article will not deal with.
Beast and Man
We find that in the animal kingdom the Alpha Male is always given preference to be the first to eat and the first to mate; even among some species, they are the only animals in the pack that are allowed to mate. Should any of the animals in the community violate this rule, they are usually killed or ousted. The status of Alpha Male is something that is earned/taken (never given), usually by the means of superior physical prowess, though it can also be determined by social efforts and building alliances. Because there can only be one Alpha Male, in some communities the position is obtained through a fight to the death, and the Alpha Male will usually spend the rest of his life fighting to maintain his position from would-be challengers. Among lions, the new Alpha will even kill the previous Alpha’s cubs to secure his position. In the case where two communities are fighting for the same territory, they will let the Alphas of each group fight and respect the fatal outcome of that battle.
In contrast, the Beta is the mammal who is second-in-command to the reigning Alpha. His function is to act as a new Alpha if the old Alpha dies. In some species of birds, the Beta will function as a ‘wing-man’ for the Alpha to assist him in his courtship with a female bird. The Beta does not generally get to mate with the female birds, but if the Alpha dies, he takes over the Alpha’s females and inherits the wealth – so to speak. The Omega (usually rendered ω-male) is an antonym used to refer to the lowest caste of the hierarchical society. The Omega male is subordinated to all others in the community; the last to eat, and sometimes used as the scapegoat, scout, and sacrifice as demonstrated in the recent blockbuster movie The Grey.
There are many parallels from the wildlife that we find also present in the human hierarchy of males, but we have to look at it in the context community. Animals usually don’t have more than two activity-communities; that is, their home life and their hunting party activity. In contrast, human males will be involved many communities and activities throughout the day, their year, and their life. Therefore, it’s not necessarily the case that men with alpha personalities will always be the Alpha Male in every single one of their communities/activities; in fact, it’s unlikely, more especially for true alphas.
Some Questions & Misconceptions of the Alpha Male
Before I go any further, I want to clear up some common misconceptions about what an alpha male is, because it’s so difficult, especially for non-alpha women to tell the difference. First of all, a true alpha does NOT need to tell any other men that he is an alpha, because alpha males always know when they are in the presence of another alpha male; similarly, betas also know when an alpha is in their midst and they defer to him.
The most surefire way to know whether a male is an alpha or not is to examine his competitive nature. Both alphas and betas will compete, but alphas will compete to win, while betas will compete for the sake of competing. Alphas are aggressive in competition and will always be upset if they lose, while betas will always say things like, ‘Good game’ and ‘At least we didn’t come in last’ when they lose, and always be happy to shake their opponent’s hand after the competition. Alphas will always work hard to get better in their activity or will simply stop competing if they realize that they can never be first. Betas might try to get better, but their objective is not to get better to be first, rather, it’s to get better just for better’s sake. Succinctly; alpha males always strive to be the first in what they set out to compete in, while beta males are always happy with coming in any position.
Does being an alpha male have anything to do with personal appearance, socioeconomic status, or his success with women? Yes and No. Again, alpha males compete to win in all things, and because of that, they do what they need to do to achieve their goal the best way that they can. If that means obtaining wealth, grooming themselves in a certain manner, or driving a certain car, then so be it. That being said, always remember that there are far more beta males in the world who are pretending to be alpha males than their are actually alpha males.
As leaders, are Alpha Males dictators or consensus builders? Communities in which consensus building is the established mode of decision making does make alpha males vomit on the inside. That isn’t to say that an Alpha Male won’t lead a consensus-building community, but what you will always find is that the consensus that the group arrives at is almost always the one that the Alpha Male agrees with the most. Compromise is generally a trait of elder Alpha Males who know what battles to fight, and also the reason why their first marriage almost always ends in divorce.
Generally, human alpha males don’t fight to the death to obtain their position; therefore how do they usually achieve their rank outside of the home? In most human communities men become the Alpha Male through an exchange of power. That is to say, that in human communities power isn’t something is taken; rather, it is something that is exchanged/given through alliance, negotiation, and leverage.
One of the terribly interesting things in these non-death ending battles between human alpha males is that what always happens (immediately or as soon as possible) is that the loser will completely leave the community (symbolically accepting his death); whether out of respect to the winner and/or out of shame, the loser will quit/leave the community and allow the winner to enjoy all of the benefits of his win.
One of the best modern examples of this reality is when George W. Bush beat Al Gore for the U.S. Presidency in 2000. Afterward, Gore completely left that sphere of politics and never returned. Even in 2004, when many supporters wanted him to avenge his questionable loss, as an alpha male he simply couldn’t. Indeed, a very sad tragedy of alpha males in the workplace is that they will utterly quit a job after losing a power struggle rather than to remain there in shame. They simply accept their symbolic death and move on.
Another great example of this reality is when Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam after losing a power struggle within, and the tragic results of perhaps some feeling as if he hadn’t truly left – as if he had lost, but still remained a threat to the Alpha Males (Elijah Muhammad) community – completely unsatisfactory to them (an unnatural affront)!
But far and beyond, my favorite modern example of what happens in the human kingdom when alpha males do battle is Kobe Bryant vs Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe is a true alpha male and so is Shaq, but there could only be one Alpha Male on the Los Angels Lakers NBA Basketball Team. In the classic manner of wolves, the tension between the two built up over the course of years and championships – there were small scuffles – slanted eye glares and exchange of barks – alliances made and much was at stake. In the end (2004) Kobe won and Shaq demanded to be traded to another team. While on the subject of alpha males in pro-basketball now it’s proper then to note that when they played together for the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan was the Alpha Male and Scott Pippen was the Beta. Continuing on with pro-basketball, I really have to trouble in believing that LeBron James or Dwayne Wade are true alphas. For a number of reasons, including the most obvious, I simply have to believe that both are beta males and barely doing a good job pretending that they are not. I think the only Alpha Male in that building is Pat Riley, but because there are no alphas on the court, they will always have a difficult time doing what they need to do to be first. Almost every championship pro-basketball team had either an alpha male at the center position or at point guard – the great teams had both, but as we move forward into this Beta dominated society, we might see more teams like the Miami Heat where a bunch of betas team up to beat the alphas.
Do alpha males have a problem being subordinate to women? Actually alpha males don’t mind being subordinate to alpha women because they will challenge her just as they would a male, but they do not respect beta females.
As the first place that a lion tends to is his den, then to the first place that a human alpha male will tend to is his home. If he isn’t an alpha in his home, then he’s not an alpha anywhere. For example, when I was a kid, my father and step-father always ate first and they always got the biggest piece of meat available – they were Alpha Males in their home. Looking back now I see where they were both Alpha Males in other aspects of their life as well, as they always strove to be the first and were never happy with second. Even on the job, as factory men, they were never foremen, but they were always the experts and the goto men – respected and deferred to. Typical of most Alpha males, they also failed repeatedly in relationships with women.
Greater Dynamics of Secret Hierarchy With Human Alpha Males
The Human community is much more dynamic than the animal kingdom; meaning that it’s not always clear from the outside looking in to see who is the Alpha Male in a given activity. Oftentimes the only people who know who is the Alpha Male is the Beta Male. For instance, I wouldn’t have a problem believing that most government leaders were alpha males (lowercase), but who was truly the Alpha Male (upper case) Napoleon or Talleyrand? Richard Nixon or Henry Kissenger? George W. Bush or Dick Cheney? We might speculate, but only these men knew for certain.
Jesus as the True Epitome of The Alpha Male
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves”. (Matthew 10:16)
Of course, Christ Jesus, being consubstantial with His Father (God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God), He’s not just AN alpha, He IS ALPHA – He IS the first and the last – the beginning and the end. But the primary reason why human Alpha Males fail and become losers and always end up being unable to retain their position of being first and the reason why beta males end up being more successful in relationship and probably having a more peaceful life than them, is because they don’t imitate Jesus Christ as the true example of an Alpha Male.
We learn from the life of our Lord that if you truly want to hang on to any presumed power that you have then the first thing you need to do is give it all away to empower others in your community. If you want to climb then the only way to stay on the top is the lift up everyone else coming under you and place them ahead of you. Jesus taught his disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27).
The only way to be an Alpha Male in the Kingdom of God is to be an alpha through THE Alpha. Outside of Christ Jesus, we can do nothing, but through Him all things are possible. To be a true Alpha Male is to invite and rejoice in THE Alpha living in, with, and through you. And if you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, what you will discover is that your territory and talents will increase abundantly and your power will multiply greatly – not because you are the first over few, but because you are the servant to many through Christ. And that’s what being a True Alpha Male is all about, and everyone was born to be one through Him.