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Why do Groups Haze?

Louie Bacaj
Louie Bacaj
2 min read
Why do Groups Haze?

Gangs have initiations; potential Gang members have to go through crazy things like getting beaten by the entire Gang. Fraternities and Sororities make recruits go through punishments so bad that law enforcement and schools have had to crackdown.

Every tribe has some hazing that they put new members through, even if it's subtle. Yet, few groups view it that way or do it deliberately.

Venture Capitalists don't want founders taking a large salary at first. The reasoning is that money is for the company. But at later venture rounds, it's perfectly acceptable for founders to get paid more. Why is the money at first only for the company but later on it's ok to make a living? The real reason was to prove skin in the game.

One reason groups Haze is that potential members prove they have skin in the game, and they won't cut and run so easily from the new tribe. After all, who wants to run after having gone through hazing? So another reason is to make sure they are really in.

I've seen in some strong teams; new hires have to prove themselves. Some teams will give a new hire the crappy work for a little while. Once they prove they can do the shit work first and show skin in the game, they are treated differently.

The Navy SEALs put their recruits through the torture of Hell Week. Hell Week is the ultimate form of hazing. The Navy has good reasons for this, at some point people's lives are in the potential SEALs hands. David Goggins, who wrote the book, Can't Hurt Me, went through Hell Week three times. In the book, he explains in excruciating detail how brutal Hell Week is. Here is an excerpt:

"By the time Hell Week started, at least forty guys had already quit, and when they did they were forced to walk over to the bell, ring it three times, and place their helmet on the concrete. The ringing of the bell was first brought in during the Vietnam era because so many guys were quitting during evolutions and just walking off to the barracks. The bell was a way to keep track of guys, but since then it's become a ritual that a man has to perform to own the fact that he's quitting.…
Hell Week was a mind game. The instructors used our suffering to pick and peel away our layers, not to find the fittest athletes. To find the strongest minds. That's something the quitters didn't understand until it was too late."

Understanding why groups Haze can help us take stock of the ways our own groups may be hazing new members. But just as importantly  if those hazing's serve their intended purposes.

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