The Hierophant represents authority, tradition, and rules.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t call Jordan Peterson “inspiring.” He’s not someone to whom I’d typically give credit for influencing my work. And yet, here we are.
If you haven’t heard of him (I hadn’t until recently, so no shame), he’s a Canadian psychology professor who shot into the public consciousness via a few controversial stances he’s taken—like refusing to comply with a Canadian law that mandates the use of gender-neutral pronouns, and advocating on behalf of James Demore, the Google Memo guy. While I don’t support these views, that is the importance of reading widely. Authors you trust will force you to wrestle with good ideas from people you’d ordinarily write off or dismiss based on their ideology. That’s why Tyler Cowan did for me.
“‘Happiness’ is a pointless goal. Don’t compare yourself with other people, compare yourself with who you were yesterday. No one gets away with anything, ever, so take responsibility for your own life. You conjure your own world, not only metaphorically but also literally and neurologically.”
In full, Peterson’s 12 rules are:
Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back
Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping
Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you
Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today
Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world
Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
Rule 10 Be precise in your speech
Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding [sic]
Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Tyler then shared his own 12 rules for life, which inspired several of his readers to consider and share their own rules.
Following @tylercowen and @cblatts, but without nearly the accomplishments, Here are my twelve rules for life. Posting mostly because I've been thinking about this a lot ever since I had children. <<thread>>
1. Never use the word culture to explain anything.
— Bradley Gardner (@bradleygardner) January 26, 2018
Following Tyler, my first pass at 12 rules to life <thread>
1. Treat others decently, always. People value dignity more than almost anything else. Give it to them.
2. In fact, go further than that. Help other people every day, even if it is something small. https://t.co/cC7XLEnqHX
— Chris Blattman (@cblatts) January 25, 2018
As I read these Tweets, I started to wonder about my own rules—did I have any (especially where creativity is concerned)?
It turns out, I do:
1) Read widely (unsurprising, given the context of this article).
Steve Jobs famously said that creativity is just connecting things. The more you have to connect, the better your ideas will be.
Ideas go from your head, to the page, and then out into the world. You can’t skip that second step. It’s when you’ll realize your idea is harder than it seemed, but also much bigger than you originally anticipated.
3) Do the verb
The noun is the title. The verb is hard work that earns you the right to use the title. Focus on the latter; the former will come.
If you don’t make time for creative work, you won’t have time for creative work. Put it on your schedule; live or die by it. Don’t just “wait for inspiration,” because it will never come.
Most people are most productive within the first few hours of waking. Go to bed early so you can harness the time when everyone else is sleeping—before the onslaught of emails, deadlines, and ASAP requests—to create.
6 Eat better, drink less
Since becoming a vegetarian last fall, I have more energy, feel better, and never suffer from the post-meal slump. I also only have one or two drinks a month, which means I sleep better, wake up fresher, and never have hangovers.
7) Find support
Ignore the haters and the trolls, but listen—really listen—when someone you respect shares their thoughts. You don’t have to act on the feedback, but you do need to politely listen rather than debate, argue, or get defensive.
More than a list of people who contributed to a book, the acknowledgements provide a window into the author’s process. They’re also an important reminder that no creative ever truly works alone.
Share your experience, your wisdom, your sources, your network, your time, your process, your secret sauce. Share everything. The best part of writing this blog is the people I’ve met along the way by virtue of simply sharing.
11) Be Embarrassed
The best thing you can make today should come back to haunt you next year; it’s a sign that you’re getting better.
Some people look at the stars to feel small. I just think about this stat—the average person reads five books a year. Pretend you’re an average reader and pretend you have 50 more years; that’s just 250 books. I bet that many books come out in a single month!
Life is short. Don’t waste it doing things that aren’t worth doing.
Your One Task
What are your 12 rules? Or 5? Or 3? Take 15 minutes to think, then Tweet them at to me at @makingallthisup
Each week, I write a new article helping busy people find meaning and fulfillment through sustainable creative habits. If you enjoyed this week’s letter, you can sign up to get them delivered to your inbox each week by digital carrier pigeon.