Peterson's Work

Question: 

How is it that Jordan Peterson is thought of as a stunning intellectual?

Gary's Answer: 

Take one of his courses. This is better than reading one of his books and more fun. He is not as practiced or entertaining a writer as he is a lecturer. People who think that they understand anything about a person’s work from what they read others say about it are mistaken because the critics make the most noise.

I was pretty stunned by Peterson’s work and I have written a number of books on similar topics. The field of strategy relies heavily on psychology, but most of the recent psychology that I had read until Peterson seemed design to sell counseling rather than solve real-world problems. Peterson enabled me to make the connection in my work and a body of work in psychology that I didn’t even know exists. The direction he has pointed me in has heavily influenced my next strategy book.

The reason that Peterson’s work has been cited so many times by other psychologists in their papers is that it has far-reaching impact on a number of areas. I am not a psychologist, but it certainly impacted my work, which has been highly recognized in its own way back when I cared about such things.

This does not mean that I agree with all of Peterson’s analysis. For example, the work we do in strategy relies heavily on the aspects of character. The five character aspects that we use (that go back 2,500 years to Sun Tzu) seem more useful than his five personality aspects. However, there is more research behind his five aspects, so I use his work in my own.

As I said, take one of his courses. If you can go through either Personality Aspects or Maps of Meaning courses without learning a lot of things that you will find valuable in your own life, I would be stunned.