Whether or not you know Dr. Jordan Peterson and his work, seeing him speak in person is something I would recommend to anyone. Hearing one of the greatest modern philosophers of our generation talk about his ideals and explain his points in the flesh brought me an all new perspective on Dr. Peterson.

I was able to see Dr. Peterson speak in St. Louis on October 3rd as part of his “12 Rules For Life” Tour, where he broke down the points in his book of the same name. I’m not going to get too in depth explaining his book, but his twelve rules and a basic explanation are as follows:

Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back

The way you carry yourself has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself. If you stand up straight and through body language command more respect, you will feel more respected.

Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

This applies to helping yourself and to helping others. Many people are more likely to give advice, than take their own advice. Know that you are not only someone worth being helped, but you are also someone capable of helping others.

Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you

I feel this is Dr. Peterson’s take on “The Golden Rule”. Not only should you surround yourself with people who genuinely want you to succeed, you should also be someone who wants to see others succeed. Together you will lift each other up.

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

Your goals are not necessarily the same as your peers, meaning there’s no use in comparing yourself to those around you. Focus on how you can improve and what you can do to achieve your personal goals, and you’ll be too busy working on yourself to worry about what your neighbor is doing.

Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children what is and isn’t acceptable. Teach your children how to behave at home, so when they are not home they know how to behave. Society will be a lot less forgiving than you are.

Rule 6: Put your house in order

Look at yourself and your actions before wondering “why me?”. Figure out what you are doing wrong, and how to fix things, instead of pointing fingers at everyone else. Learn how your actions got you to where you’re at, identify any poor actions, and improve on them.

Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

Take the high road, not the easy one. Doing good for the world is what gives your life meaning. Do the things you know are right, even if they aren’t easy.

Rule 8: Tell the truth

This one isn’t the obvious “Don’t Tell Lies” rule it appears to be. Be introspective. Look into your life and identify the lies you tell yourself. Correct the lies that don’t fall in line with your beliefs.

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Even if you don’t agree with what someone has to say, treat everyone as if they have taken time and carefully researched what they are talking about. Genuinely listen to them and summarize what they say before replying. Make sure you fully understand another person before constructing your response.

Rule 10: Be precise with your speech

Being precise with what you say eliminates confusion for others and will help you identify and find solutions for problems all around you. Identify exactly what the problem is, exactly how you need to fix it, and exactly why you need to fix it. Be specific when something is bothering you and address it when it is bothering you.

Rule 11: Leave children alone when they are skateboarding

Let your children push the envelope – that is how they learn and how they grow. Don’t be a “helicopter parent.” How will your kids know how to solve problems as an adult, if you are the one solving their problems for them as a child?

Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Find the good in each day. Love people regardless of their flaws. Suffering is a natural part of human life – embrace it. Show others that it is okay to fail, as long as you are constantly learning from your failures.

This book is something I really do encourage everyone to read. It is not an easy read by any means, but the information you learn from it will cause you to see how you behave and others behave in an entirely different way. By giving you real-world examples, along with the biological processes behind behavior, Dr. Peterson is able to explain human behavior in a way not many have before.

I not only want to touch on what Dr. Peterson had to say, but also howhe went about saying it. Never in my life have I been more inspired by a speaker. Dr. Peterson approached every point he made in a way I think we can all learn from.

Before the show began, his opener, Dave Rubin, said that every single show on this tour has been different. Through listening to Dr. Peterson’s entire speech, that does not surprise me at all. This was not a scripted speech, with every detail perfectly laid out, and spoken the exact same way at every venue. What I got to listen to was a man with incredible knowledge sharing his wisdom with the audience, while letting them see how he is thinking. Throughout the night, I witnessed him verbally processing his thoughts, drawing conclusions, and then explaining those conclusions. With not seeing his other shows, I can’t be certain, but I would take a guess that, at each city on his tour, he is building on his ideas and drawing new conclusions as he goes. Not in a way that goes back on what he said previously, but as if he is discovering new ways to connect information – and he just happens to be doing it in front of an audience.

Although he has many years of experience, and thousands of hours of research behind the points that he makes, he doesn’t speak as if his word is law. His speech was primarily outlining his research and how he came to the conclusion he did, but he was also extremely open ended. I took his approach as “These are the scientific facts I have found, this is what I think of it, and here is why I personally think that.” He left every point somewhat open to the interpretation of the individual as it relates to their life. I believe this comes from the understanding that while everyone thinks differently, all of our thoughts come from the same place.

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He also spoke in a way that was somewhat unfamiliar to me. I would compare it to someone who speaks English as a second language. Dr. Peterson frequently paused during sentences, using the phrases “What’s the word…” or “How do you say…”. However, the way he used those phrases had the exact opposite connotation. He is so precise in how he speaks and so careful with his word choice while speaking, that he will stop mid-thought to find just the right word to express his thoughts. While he speaks quickly, and utilizes platforms where he can have long-form discussions, he is not just rambling on about what he’s thinking. He genuinely knows what point he is trying to get across to his audience, and is very careful that his audience is understanding correctly.

All in all, this was an outstanding show and an experience I am so grateful for. I hope everyone gets the chance to see him speak in person at least once in their life!

Sheridan M