Editorial: On Success and r/K Theory - P.O.W. Report

Friday, November 6, 2015

Editorial: On Success and r/K Theory

A reader asked a brilliant question, which in summation was, “Why are successful people or individuals who are working hard and trying to provide for their family looked down upon and rarely supported---especially recently in Alaska which is supposed to be the “Last Frontier” for individual entrepreneurship?”

Do People Actually Experience This?

Why Do People Do this or Believe This?

The answer I believe lies in the r/K Selection theory.

“r” stands for “reproductive focus” which is the rabbit strategy of pumping out lots of cheap offspring and copulating with whatever moves –this is a response to resource abundance.

“K” stands for “competitive focus” which is the wolf pack strategy of mating for life, raising pups together, teaching them to hunt and integrate socially with the pack—this is a response to selective pressure for individual excellence due to resource scarcity.

This r/K expression dynamic is also psychological and can shift in society in three ways:

1. Environmental cues alter psychology and biology during childhood development
2. Changes in the populations underlying genetic ratio
3. Changes in social promotion

Together, these essentially produce the cycle of human history that we’ve come to know: hardship/war creates a superior K selected group, which conquers, prospers, becomes r-selected and then collapses (also known as the 10 stages of a Nation)

This r/K dynamic is also a useful tool in explaining why we have two different political groups “Liberals” and “Conservatives”. Where Liberals enjoy large social dynamics, sexual polyamory, and law breaking. While Conservatives favor small community, monogamy, and strict law adherence. (Albeit each group can have varying degrees of r/K psychological expression simultaneously).


Alaska, for a long time has been a pretty rough place to live mainly due to environmental and geological factors. So, those people who ventured up here and stayed, tended to be a cut above the fray from the lower 48 by definition of risking their lives, homes, and finances. These risks naturally attracted independent, small community minded, K-expression people. They became extremely loyal to the communities they founded and became extremely competitive with other groups as well. Anecdotally, we can see this through the competitiveness between different Native Tribes and Clans throughout history.

However, as the communities began to grow and resource abundance increased, the competitive individual edge of the people declined and strong ‘community support’ declined as well and in a word, people become more "selfish" and "ego-centric". Even in my short life, I have noticed that the Prince of Wales Community involvement has declined drastically from when I was a child. July 4th used to be one of the biggest events of the year and now people aren’t bothering to attend the events in big number. Thanksgiving day, used to be a pretty big event among the churches and neighborhoods and now what used to be large get-togethers have become smaller and fractured. I know that I’m not the only one who has noticed.

Prince of Wales as a community has become fat and bloated with excess and entitlements in the last decade (in part due to our success in Southeast Alaska Legislative Politics) and we’ve just stopped caring about each other as much and supporting our friends and neighbors—unless absolutely necessary.

How Do You Stop This?

This trend and ego-centric mind set is going to start reversing pretty quick as the communities on the island will be forced to band together again as the State of Alaska goes through a fiscal crisis. And the "r-centered" people will have to become more "k-centered".

Granted, this is just my opinion and many may not even think this is an issue...


The answer comes down to the inherent differences between successful and unsuccessful people:

The difference between the successful people and the unsuccessful people of the world comes down to their different habits. Those who are successful have set forth the habits to get them there and those who are not dwell on their terrible habits that they have acquired and will never change.

Unsuccessful people think they know it all: It’s funny because these pedestrians walk around with their heads high as if they have the answer to every question that life has. They are stubborn; they always think they are right and that they know it all, when instead they are idiots.

Successful people love innovation and change: They are always thinking about what is next, not what is going on right now. They welcome risks into their lives and are okay with sacrifice and risking it all for the greater good of their goal. They understand change is what brought humanity to its current advanced state, so they are always looking for it.

Unsuccessful people procrastinate: They will look for any excuse to take a break from what they are doing. They get distracted easily and they love putting things off until tomorrow. They waste their time with nonsense TV, their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and are not focused on their lives and what they are doing right now. They are constantly letting unimportant things get in the way of what is important.

Successful people are positive: They look at life differently, they are optimists and their beliefs are strong behind them. They believe that they have the ability to do anything they set their minds to and they eventually do so. Their will-power is what pushes them, they’re ambitious and they believe that they can conquer whatever they want.

Cheers and have a great Weekend!


  1. Replies
    1. So, can unsuccessful people become successful? How do people change?

    2. Thank You.

      "Can unsuccessful people become successful?"

      In theory, yes. In reality, not likely.

      "How do people change?"

      For along time there has been a debate among social scientists on the question of "Nature verse Nurture" and which has more impact on individual humans? I think to boil the individual character of a person to only two factors is simplistic; I think there is a third factor.

      A person is defined:

      1/3rd by his/her "Genetics"
      1/3rd by his/her "Environment"
      1/3rd by his/her "Choices".

      Unfortunately, we cannot control our Genetics or our DNA but we can control the other 2/3rds. In order to make a substantive 'change' one must realize 1. whether the environment he lives in is conducive to 'success' and 2. to make conscious and proactive steps (ie. "CHOOSE") to make steps towards changing yourself for the better.

      The main step towards 'changing' yourself is to realize your strengths and weaknesses (I will be posting an Editorial on this very soon).

      Unfortunately, people don't want to internalize their faults, weaknesses, and shortcomings and that is why people rarely ever change or become 'successful' ('success' being a very relative term)