I recently saw this headline: “Triumph of the Beta Male.”

It’s a story on the HBO series ‘Silicon Valley.’ I’ve never seen it. I’m not concerned about it. What’s more interesting is the title: Triumph of the Beta Male.

Let’s be honest. Not every man can be a natural alpha. Not every man is a king. And there is nothing wrong with being “beta.” In fact, traits associated with betas are necessary for society to function.

But “triumph” of the beta? 

  • This is an extension of “everyone gets the same sized trophy at the end of soccer season because there are no winners and losers. We are all winners.” It’s fomenting a culture of losers by telling the losers that they are really the winners…because we said so.
  • It’s like stating: “Fat guys that dress up as Thor at Comic-Con are way better at being Thor than Chris Hemsworth.” Uh, no. Hemsworth gets paid gazzillions of dollars because he does it better.
  • It’s like stating: “If you cry a lot, act emotional, and open you heart about all your constant fears, women will flock to you like your James Bond.” Actually, no they won’t. They will see you as insecure, boyish, and likely as a poor future provider. Most women are attracted to oak trees, not saplings.

Being beta is not bad. Realizing that you have maxed out your potential in an area is fine, natural, normal, and virtuous.

I’m not making it to the NBA. My fastball won’t ever be over 90 mph. I’m not going to be President of the USA. I’m not going star in Hollywood films. I haven’t won the Pulitzer. I’m not going to be the strongest powerlifter – even within my own suburban gym. I’m not alpha in any of these ways. I accept it. I own it. I admit it. However, I do not celebrate it as if that makes me a winner in any of those categories.

But there are areas in which I am alpha and I’m still pushing hard in those areas. Most importantly, I will not lie to myself (or to my sons or to my friends) by saying that being “beta” is really the role of being “triumphant.” It’s not.

I’m not giving trophies for participation and I’m not celebrating the “triumph of being beta” in anything. However, here is something I will celebrate: trying hard to achieve something but failing miserably and accepting it:

  • Asking the best girl on a date and getting rejected.
  • Training for a tournament and losing in the final round.
  • Applying for a higher paying job and not getting it.
  • Writing a book but nobody buying it.

It stings. It’s embarrassing. But accepting the failure is character building and virtuous. Lying about the failure and pretending that it’s “triumph” is folly.

Conclusion: Always strive for alpha. You’ll surprise yourself over time. However, when/if you fall short, keep trying but also realize when to fold your cards and admit, “I failed. I own it. I’m not the alpha here. I admit it. Okay, so what’s the next goal and adventure?”

Why do we want to celebrate a false “triumph of the betas”? Leave a comment below.