What Does Alpha Male Mean?
The alpha male is a designation within the socio-sexual hierarchy for a type of man who exists at the top of the social dominance hierarchy. Alpha men are leaders of the tribe, and leverage their position at the top of the hierarchy for many benefits—though these benefits do come at great sacrifice.
True alpha males employ a tribe mentality, and prioritizes the well being of their tribe over their own selves in many situations. This process is called ‘tribal investment,’ and helps the alpha to secure his position as a beloved and capable leader at the head of the hierarchy.
The Alpha Male Explained
If you’ve ever heard the term ‘alpha male,’ before, you may be wondering what it means.
My most in-depth post on the topic of the alpha male mentality can be found here.
But for now, let’s jump right in and talk about the question that probably landed you here.
What does alpha male mean?
What exactly is an alpha male, and how is he different from a beta male?
And perhaps most importantly, what importance does the designation of this archetype hold in your life?
In other words—what does it mean to be an alpha?
Let’s get started and answer the questons.
What Defines An Alpha Male?
“A male animal having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy… the most dominant, powerful, or assertive man in a particular group.”
I actually like this definition. And though it may be missing a few things, it is actually pretty on-point.
There are many attributes that define a man who fits into the true alpha male archetype. There are also many different characteristics that separate alpha-male men from betas, omegas, and other archetypes categorized within the socio sexual hierarchy.
Alright. Now let’s jump in and get deeper.
If you really want to know what makes the alpha male different from the other male archetypes, look for these 12 signs.
If you tend to display some or all of these 12 signs and personality traits in your life, there is a strong chance that you are a true alpha male—and that it would benefit you to step up into your natural-born role as a tribal leader.
What Are The Signs Of An Alpha Male?
1. Self Sufficiency
Above all else, alpha males are self sufficient.
This means that they do not rely on other people to solve their problems, pay their bills, provide for them, or spur them to action.
Alpha males understand the need to be responsible and ambitious. They need to attack their problems, get them sorted, and continually level themselves up in life.
They also realize that nobody else owes them a hand-out.
I once spent two weeks homeless, sleeping in my car, because I didn’t want to ask friends or family for some kind of hand-out while I was waiting for my new apartment to be ready. Even though any of them probably would have let me crash with them, I preferred to just take responsibility for myself.
I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to impose. I did it because I wanted to take control of my own destiny and make my own way in the world. In that situation, I took responsibility for myself and did what I needed to do to get the problem sorted out.
2. Inner Strength And Power
Natural born alpha males have an incredible amount of inner strength, tenacity, and survival-instinct.
If they get knocked down, their first inclination is not to mope and feel sorry for themselves.
Their first reaction is to get up, punch life right in the face, and continue on their journey.
This goes far deeper than physical strength. This is about the strength of your soul.
Having massive inner strength means that defeat is not a word you include in your vocabulary.
You don’t even consider it an option.
Losses become lessons. Failures become test-runs. You never relent. You’re too strong to allow yourself to fail.
Until the day you are put into the ground, you will fight to win.
3. Inner Reflection
The realization that I needed to wake up in my life came to me in a moment of quiet.
I was actually sitting alone in a field. There was tall grass all around me.
I didn’t have my phone. I wasn’t reading a book.
I was just sitting by myself, alone, in the quiet of nature.
And as I reflected on myself, my life, and my purpose, I made a startling realization.
I never talked to myself. I never reflected on why I felt the way I felt about things, why I believed ‘right’ to be ‘right,’ or why I reacted to things the way I did.
I realized that I never took any time to reflect inward and have those important conversations with myself!
If you want to seriously level-up as an alpha male, start by practicing massive inner reflection.
Take 20 minutes out of your day and get somewhere quiet, just to talk to yourself and learn about yourself!
4. Strong Leadership Qualities
Alpha males understand that you can only be so strong and effective on your own.
This is why alpha males will never be alone for long.
Once they understand their purpose, they will quickly begin the task of building a tribe of high-value people around them.
They will invest in this tribe. They will support it, lead it, and nurture it.
In turn, they will reap massive tribal benefits.
This entire ecosystem is beneficial to everyone involved—and alpha males understand that effective leadership is the glue that holds all of it together.
Tribe building is essential to the alpha-male archetype. This means that leadership is an essential skill for the alpha.
A true alpha will strive to be an effective, wise, and empathic leader. He prioritizes himself first, but only so that he can invest in his tribe and prioritize it as the most important part of his life and infrastructure.
If an alpha’s tribe wins, he wins. If his tribe loses, he loses.
There is no room in this brutal, unkind world for weakness:
And the alpha male is intimately acquainted with this understanding.
He understands that you need to be bold, fierce, and strong to survive and thrive in our kill-or-be-killed world.
He is bold not only for his own good, but also for the good of his tribe.
He will go to war for them, just as he would go to war for himself.
He also exercises boldness when the time comes to assert his leadership and solve problems.
I once had a supposed ‘friend’ act a certain kind of negative way toward me and a few of the other men, undermining and disrespecting the tribe dynamic amongst our peers.
I had to have a confrontation about it with him. I told him he would get one more chance to stop the behavior. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be allowed back into my circle.
He called me on my words, and continued to act the same way.
I guess he thought I was bluffing.
So I told him he was out, and I enforced it by not inviting him back. I think I surprised him. I don’t think he understood how important my circle was to me, and I think he underestimated how bold I could become if it meant keeping the tribe together and expelling problematic elements.
After that, peace returned—and things went back to normal.
Alphas understand that weakness will result in the destruction of the tribe.
There is no other alternative. We need to be strong and bold if we want our infrastructures, systems, and tribe to survive.
My understanding of intentionality was really born when I was first introduced to the works of Ken Keyes Jr. and his Handbook To Higher Consciousness.
Alpha males understand that they need to escape their emotional reactions, and behave rationally if they want to affect change in the world.
This cannot be overstated. In fact, it is so vitally important to the alpha journey that it should always be considered a mandate.
As alphas, we fight against entropy and chaos with order and intentionality. This is how we change the world, grow our tribe, pursue our purpose, and leave a lasting legacy.
Alpha males are proud men.
They are proud of their abilities. They are confident. They are proud of their work, of their tribe, and of the work that their tribe is capable of accomplishing.
They strive to always be the best man in the room. In pursuing this, they always ensure that they are competing at the highest levels possible.
Perhaps most importantly, true alphas also understand false pride. They do not want their sense of ego inflated artificially.
It bothers them if their work is not truly great and worthy of admiration.
So when they finish a project that they deem to be sub-par, they will usually immediately set to the task of trying to do it again… but better.
For an alpha, second-place just isn’t good enough.
Alpha males are fiercely ambitious.
In fact, their ambition is such a driving force in their lives that they may struggle to work underneath other ‘alphas’ who they perceive to be incompetent.
This can make traditional jobs ‘weird’ for alpha men.
I can personally attest to this. I’ve been running my own business since I was 22 years old.
But on the rare occasion that I do answer to someone else, it really bothers me when they do not display at least as much ambition, wisdom, and potential as I do.
Alphas are also very fixated on effective leadership. As an alpha male, I will hold high respect for a man whom I deem to be better than me.
But I will also make it my mission to overtake him and become an even greater man than he is.
Because I am fiercely ambitious. To me, the existence of a greater man in my circle is a challenge.
He is someone I can learn from, but he is also someone that I will inevitably push myself to overtake.
This is not done out of spite, either. Many of the men I have regarded in this way have my everlasting respect and admiration.
Alphas are not trying to make enemies of other great men. They simply cannot live with a second-place mentality.
They are constantly driven to become greater than the man they were yesterday, and seek to be the best, hardest working, most successful man in the room.
9. He Learns From Every Mistake And Experience
A lot of people try to blame their mistakes on others.
But alphas learn early-on how wasteful and senseless this is.
When I make a mistake, I kick my own ass the hardest.
Because I know that I can be better.
This is also why true alpha men tend to learn from their mistakes.
In fact, alpha males rarely look at mistakes as a completely negative thing.
They hate the setback, but they are grateful for the knowledge they gain as a result.
Alpha men also learn never to blame their mistakes on other people. Self ownership is a massive hallmark of the alpha archetype.
They understand that this pushes them to be better—but it also inspires respect from the other members of the tribe.
There is no room in the alpha’s life for a victim mentality.
10. He Pushes Himself The Hardest
In this video, Jordan Peterson talks a bit about the realities of alpha-male mentality, vs the sacrifices it requires to maintain your position at the head of the hierarchy.
I do not necessarily agree that Jordan Peterson is describing a fully actualized alpha male in this video—but it is still useful to understand the lengths that alpha men will go to to secure the tops of their respective hierarchies.
Nobody can push an alpha harder than he pushes himself.
When I wake up in the morning, I have much higher expectations for myself than anyone else.
Because I’m not content with second-place.
And even if I’m in first place, I’ll constantly be looking for other men who are doing it better than I am.
And that becomes my new goal—to accomplish more, be more disciplined, make more money, create more value, help more people, learn more, etc.
And when I mess up, nobody is as hard on me as I am on myself.
This is just the alpha way.
11. He Has A Purpose In Life
As men, we need to have a deep sense of purpose in our lives.
We need to understand our reason for being alive. We need to visualize our goals, and make plans to achieve them.
A man without a purpose is like a ship lost at sea.
You may sail around and around in circles—never arriving anywhere or achieving anything!
As alphas, the moment we come to understand the world, we set our eyes upon a purpose.
If you have yet to find your purpose in life, read this post. It may help you to understand your place in the universe, and what you can do to begin the process of leaving a lasting mark upon the world.
12. He Puts The Tribe First
At the end of the day, the alpha male intimately understands that self priority and tribe priority are very closely balanced.
He understands that he needs to prioritize himself so that he can perform at his peak.
But he also understands that he needs to prioritize his tribe very, very highly—lest chaos begin to erode the fabric of its delicate balance.
This is such an important balance—and sadly, even many alphas underestimate how important the tribe dynamic is.
As alpha males, we must highly prioritize our tribe—even to the point where we must make strategic sacrifices to ensure that it is maintained, nurtured, and cared for.
This is the great sacrifice of the alpha male—but a strong, wise alpha understands that his greatest asset and strength in life is his tribe.
What Is The Alpha Male Mentality?
Intentionality is one of the most important alpha male traits.
Because a mentality of intentionality dictates that you decide how to act.
This stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the beta male, which sounds more like this…
Your actions are all actually responses and reactions to the things that happen to you.
Because you are in desperate need of other people’s approval.
A powerful, high-value, effective man and leader prioritizes his life, and keeps the chaos of the world from taking his inner power away from him.
How does he do this?
By choosing, each and every day, how he will live… and then having the determination, tenacity, and courage to follow-through with it.
In this sense, he happens to life and creates order, instead of being controlled by the chaos around him.
What Does Alpha And Beta Male Mean?
The socio sexual hierarchy, originally attributed to Vox Day, gives us some pretty useful information that we can use to discuss the main differences between alpha and betas.
We can also look at the Cambridge Dictionary Online definition of the term ‘beta male,’ to find this:
“Beta Male: a man who is not as successful or powerful as other men.”
A beta male may be a man without any ‘power’ or very little ‘success’ in his life, but those are not his defining attributes.
They are, in fact, only symptoms of what makes a true beta a beta.
Beta Male Definition
My definition of a beta male can be reduced down to this…
A beta male is a man who allows the chaos of the world and the people around him to dictate his actions, as opposed to dictating his own.
There is a lot more that we could say about this. And to be honest, Vox Day’s socio sexual hierarchy goes deeper and gives us a slightly different definition… but in a basic nutshell, this is the core of the issue.
The Beta Male Is ‘Reactive And Dependent’ – The Polar Opposite Of The Alpha
When I use the terms ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ in my work, I use them to contrast two very different mindsets—a ‘ying and yang,’ so to speak. And as men, we want to strive to embody an ‘alpha mindset’ over a ‘beta mindset.’
And so, we come to the place where we realize that the beta male is actually the opposite of the alpha.
- Lives intentionally, while the beta lives reactively
- Practices gratitude, while the beta male complains
- Accepts the fault for his shortcomings and seeks to improve, while the beta male blames other people for his problems in life
- Organizes his priorities and always knows how to act, while beta males tend to be indecisive, reactive, and confused about what they actually want in life
These are all key opposites that separate the two different mentalities. And they are important, because they give us clues into the vital building-blocks of the alpha male mindset.
What Does ‘Alpha’ Symbolize?
When I coach men on the alpha mentality, I am often asked what the ‘alpha’ part of the mindset symbolizes.
And for this, I often come back to the idea of the apex predator.
An Apex Predator is literally a predator with no natural predators, who is at the top of the food chain.
And I see the Alpha Male Journey as the journey toward the apex of all of your skills, primary social dominance hierarchies, and status.
But a man does not achieve the alpha status by ‘preying’ on people.
He achieves it by being the best man in the room, working harder, and pursuing mastery in his life.
Instead of acting like a bully, the wise alpha deploys alpha behavior to climb the ranks in an organic fashion—leveraging the respect, admiration, and love that the tribe holds for him as the most valuable commodities in his treasure chest.
What Is Alpha Behavior?
Alpha behavior is the behavior exhibited by alpha males. It consists of taking action, being self-sufficient, and being self-reliant. But it also blends this with tribal investments and a purpose-driven mindset.
An alpha male, above most other things in life, prioritizes the well-being of his tribe and seeks to pursue and fulfill his purpose in life.
These are two of his most important mandates.
He is a true, natural-born leader.
But he doesn’t lead as a tyrant, either! He leads by example, and is actually more of a servant leader than a bully.
In fact, true alpha males will understand that bullying is a beta male tactic—and will quickly bring an end to such behaviors if they happen within the tribe.
Alpha Males Are Not Predators… They Are Wise And Cunning Leaders
In today’s world, masculinity is often seen as ‘toxic.’ Along with this, many decry the idea of the ‘alpha male’ as predatory.
But nothing could be further from the truth!
There are absolutely human predators in this world… but a true alpha understands that behaving as a predator undermines the value of tribal connections and values.
A powerful alpha earns the respect of his tribe through kindness, wise leadership, and admiration—not by strong-arming people or trying to assert dominance like some kind of bully.
Yes, a high value man must be ready to do battle when the time comes to go to war, and he is not afraid to channel his aggression and strength when the time calls for it.
But he is also patient, cunning, and wise enough to avoid such occurrences if they are at all avoidable.
A powerful man knows that the journey to the ‘apex’ of the social dominance hierarchies is not won through predatory conflict with others, but through inner-conflict, wherein he destroys his weaknesses and builds up new strengths where they once stood.
And so, we see that for men who aspire to be the best man in the room, the first battle is always within.
We fight against our own inner weakness first.
Once we defeat this demon and learn to step into our true alpha male strength, we become strong enough to fight outward battles with true wisdom, self-reflection, and cunning strategy.
A true alpha has his priorities in order.
By taking these things into account, the alpha grows more powerful than the other men in the room… because most men are too busy complaining and blaming other people to see the world through this sort of lens.
What Are The Primary Alpha Male Characteristics?
There are many characteristics that true alpha male men will cultivate. Here is a list of the 33 most important personality characteristics of the alpha.
- Self Sufficiency
- Self Empowerment
- Strength of Character
- Self Ownership
- Not Afraid Of Healthy Conflict/Confrontation
- He Pushes Himself
- He Has A Purpose
- He Strives To Leave A Lasting Legacy
- He Is Patient
- He Doesn’t Get Caught Up In Petty Drama
- He Holds Himself To The Highest Standards
- He Masters His Guilt
- He Is Not Afraid To Go To War, Though He Will Do Everything In His Power To Make Peace
- He Is Aware Of His Own Mortality, And Understands That Today Is The Day To Live Gloriously
Alpha Males In Relationships
“Alpha males make wise, capable, and intentional partners.”
In relationships, alpha men will make sure that they maintain power over themselves.
They will be loving, kind, and respectful… but they’re also not afraid to put their foot down when it comes to setting healthy boundaries with the people they love and care for.
They will always pursue their purpose first, and make relationships with women a healthy addition to their already awesome life.
For the alpha, a high value wife or girlfriend is like the cherry on top of his already purpose-filled life.
It is a beta-male mistake to place all of your happiness on your relationships with other people.
This leads to dependence… which leads to you giving away your inner power to the people you are dependent on.
A powerful man is happy enough with himself that he does not need anyone else to feel validated, fulfilled, or valuable.
He finds his core value in himself and in his own journey.
Therefore, even in relationships, a true alpha will always prioritize his purpose, and find his deepest meaning in pursuing the path of the self-sacrificing, wise leader.
Alpha Male Personality
All humans have slightly different personalities.
These dictate what we like, what we enjoy, what we want to do with our time, our mannerisms, our unique ways of speaking, our interests, etc.
But even so, there are also certain personality traits that are absolutely fundamental to the alpha male personality.
Our list from above is a perfect example of this.
You cannot, for example, fail to act in accordance with your priorities, and then blame your personality for your problems.
This is not a luxury that effective men will allow themselves.
You must be intentional. You must be wise. You must constantly seek to better yourself.
These are not ‘personality traits’ that strong men compromise on.
They are traits that we strive to get better at every day.
Because as we master them, we take back our inner power from the chaos around us. Our lives become better, we find a greater sense of purpose, and we become humans of greater value to the world around us.
And all of these things give our lives greater meaning.
Hopefully, this post has helped to shed at least a little bit of light onto the question: What does ‘alpha male’ mean?
This is a very important question, and it has been instrumental in framing my own life and journey.
There was once a time when I was a weak, helpless beta. I was sad, depressed, racked by anxiety, and miserable.
But I woke up. And I hope very much that all men will do the same if they haven’t already!
In the meantime, keep following the path. The Alpha Male Journey might not be for everyone. But if you feel that it may be for you, please leave a comment and let me know!
Go with grace, my friends, and never give up your power!
Joshua K. Sigafus!