Responsibility & Honesty: Lessons from Jordan Peterson

Jordan B Peterson

A psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson’s audience is 80% male (particularly young men). Peterson has speculated that he resonates with men because he encourages a philosophy of responsibility and achievement. A quote from one of his videos,

It’s necessary for men to stand up and take responsibility. They all know that and are starving for that message.

He also expounds upon the effect that responsibility has on one’s life,

People are starving for the antidote and the antidote is truth and responsibility. It isn’t that that’s what you should do – it’s that that’s the secret to a meaningful life.

Peterson’s message is similar to one of my core philosophies: a person must accept full responsibility for their life. To blame your problems on another person is ineffective. To accept responsibility is empowering and it makes change possible.

Speak the Truth and Stand Behind your Beliefs

Even in the face of protest, Jordan Peterson is not afraid to say what he thinks

Jordan Peterson is willing to go against today’s “politically correct” trend. A great example is this video where he advises young women that having children is often more meaningful than having a successful career. This is based on his experience of working with powerful female attorneys.

Peterson is not telling women to become homemakers or advocating a return to the 1950’s. He’s simply stating that in his decades of experience as a psychologist he’s discovered that many women find children to be more meaningful than a successful career. 

As rational as that sounds, it takes courage to say it. Whether you agree with Peterson or think he’s nuts, he’s not afraid to voice his opinions and back them up with lucid argument.

I find it admirable to hear someone speak his mind so honestly. I’m guilty of distorting the truth as much as anyone else. I tell my boss what he wants to hear, I withhold truths from my family, I’ve been known to omit details when speaking to friends. However, Jordan Peterson has been instrumental in convincing me that this behavior has a short term benefit but long term drawbacks.

Bill C-16 and a Refusal to Back Down

I find “gender fluid” to be particularly baffling

Peterson gained media recognition when he fought against the the Canadian C-16 Bill. The then proposed bill sought to mandate the use of pronouns for transgender and “gender fluid” individuals. Some of the more popular pronouns include zie, zir and sie, although there are many more.

Peterson took his stand because the bill mandates that people speak in a certain way. This is an imposed restriction on free speech. Peterson was willing to risk his wealth, job and safety to speak openly about his beliefs. Although the bill did pass, his commendable actions have not gone unrewarded. The controversy netted Peterson hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers. He now has plans to use his popularity to open an online university.

Get Inside Peterson’s Head

Jordan Peterson’s two podcasts with Joe Rogan are captivating

Peterson did a podcast with Joe Rogan which Joe stated was his favorite interview of all time. An honor considering it was the 958th episode. He also did an earlier podcast which is almost as good. While both interviews amount to 6+ hours I recommend listening to them.

Beyond the podcast Jordan Peterson clips are widely available on YouTube. His main channel features full lectures and talks. However, the easiest way to explore his content is: Bite Sized Philosophy. These short clips are easy to understand and fascinating.

My Three Favorite Videos 

  1. How To Not Waste Anymore Of Your Time (Living up to Your Potential)
  2. Let Your Insufficiencies Burn Off Like Deadwood
  3. The Tragic Story of the Man-Child
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