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Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A.
Gabriela Cora M.D., M.B.A.

Are Alpha Females Healthier Than Their Counterparts?

Alpha females may be healthier than counterparts...

Alpha females have intrinsic characteristics—aside from being competitive, controlling, and more aggressive, they are also born healthier, more energetic, and more resilient.

Sure, alphas can get themselves into more stressful situations by virtue of being more dominant and on the front lines at all times, which in turn make them more vulnerable to personal attacks. Alphas get to have more head-to-head physical, emotional, and intellectual confrontations. Their innate ability to endure frontal assaults may exceed others’ genetic capabilities to sustain stress itself.

Have you ever watched a frontal collision between two alpha females? Would you be able to endure the pounding of direct blows over and over again or would you prefer to stick your head in the sand? There is a wide range of qualities among alphas: “Some alphas are more alpha than others.” The political debates exemplify a combination of the ability to show dominance while simultaneously showing intelligence, assertiveness, and the power to invite others to follow through charismatic attraction. The personality mix that helps at certain times in politics—or in business—may signify the demise of a successful career at another time. An alpha who has trained herself—yes, even alphas can be trained—to be more flexible, inclusive, and collaborative will be wise to choose when to be more direct and dominant, as compared to when to be more cooperative and open to alternatives.

These are some strategies to continue to prevail while handling stress more effectively:

1. Understand your talent and focus on developing some flexibility: Alphas strive to be on top and dominate. These traits are excellent if you want to pursue a career in which you are the boss and master-of-the-universe. This leadership style prevailed decades ago, but our current corporate and political environments tend to frown at a “Because I said so” attitude. If you are an entrepreneur who begins, maintains, and finishes all projects on your own command, this may work. However, unless you are a C-level executive—who is hired to cut off heads and leave every eighteen to twenty-four months, bloody bodies spread everywhere, after the battle is over to fight another similar battle somewhere else—you may benefit from learning more consensus-building and mediation-driven style. This flexibility will add some marketable qualities to your business life and may even extend your life span by years. Getting along with others better will reduce your stress.

2. Add complementary physical exercises: Of course you participate in triathlons and all sorts of hard-core physical competitions. Or maybe you are on your third trip to climb Mount Everest. The adrenaline-driven feeling of pure dominance over your body and physiology is unmatchable. And yet, you may want to add some other exercises to your repertoire: instead of pushing your heart rate to the max while you are training for a marathon, try swimming slowly for an hour. Instead of cranking up your energy with caffeine-rich products prior to a workout, how about trying Yoga or Tai-Chi? Your first reaction to these suggestions is: “No way!” I know, I work with alphas all the time and yet, I have found that once alphas allow themselves to slow down sometimes and enjoy the calmness of just being at peace, their eyes open wide as they see the world through a different prism for the first time, away from their regular rushing to the next activity. Although Type A personality is vulnerable to cardiovascular disorders—both men and women alike—and we are making a leap here to suggest Type A and alphas share some common traits, women benefit from additional protection in their cardiovascular systems as compared to men. However, it will be helpful to continue to find effective ways to stress less and relax more.

3. Practice empathy: I know you are upset: your Chairman or Chairwoman fired you over the phone. Avoid calling your boss, client, or colleague “idiot, stupid, or doofus.” Spitting out hurtful words when you feel dissed only diminishes your own power not to mention burning bridges with people who may otherwise respect you for your leadership skills. Women are perceived as more empathic and collaborative in general. However, we are also seen as more emotional and moody as well. As controlling as you may like to be of others, learning to exert self-control will add to a powerful repertoire of being an alpha. You may tend to respond to a perceived attack by attacking directly if you feel vulnerable and, while you want to exert dominance and show you are the head honcho, it gets tiring to lash out and protect your turf all the time. While people respect leadership, people hate feeling bullied. In the end, while the thirst for ambition may oust a great leader, competitors will jump in and destroy the bully at the first sign of perceived vulnerability. Learning to tune-in to your followers will make you a more effective leader—and it will help you manage your stress better too.

4. Transition power; allow other alphas to join you: Your persistent stamina, amazing focus, and dominant track record speak for itself. At the same time, what worked thirty years ago is outdated today. Even if you are obstinate and you want to avoid change to remain in power at all costs, look around and identify other alphas who may be able to continue your legacy—or create one of their own. It is difficult to let go of your power even in the face of life-threatening illnesses, as in Steve Jobs’ decision to forego his position as Apple CEO. You want to seal the values that inspired you in your creation while allowing new ideas to come to existence in the future.

5. Enjoy: The feeling of power can be exhilarating and addictive. Feeling healthy, balanced, and well is an extraordinary characteristic of alphas. Find ways in which you can continue to enjoy your multiple activities while keeping quality down time. Avoid using stimulants to push you to perform and produce at the highest level during times when you feel down or overwhelmed by activities. Avoid using alcohol to calm you down if you are too hyped up. Learn other meditation and relaxation techniques and practice them daily. Look around and ensure you are including quality time for your family and friends, and enjoy every bit of your relationships. By the end of the day, it is your love for others—and their love in return—that you take with you at the end of your journey.

About the Author
Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A.

Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A., hosts Dr. Gaby's Take: Make Life Interesting. She’s a medical doctor with a master's in business administration.

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