[March 7, 2018] If you listen to renowned Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, he will tell you that to make life meaningful, one must take on demanding responsibilities. Any good leader could tell you the same thing. While everyone has certain societal rights they also have responsibilities and that what makes the world a decent place to work, worship, and live.
Psychologist Peterson frequently talks about the phenomenon that his speeches about “responsibility” are typically attended mostly by men (over 80%) while, to make a comparison, women make up most of those seeking a psychology degree (over 90%). He attributes this skewed distribution to the idea that men are looking for responsibility to make their lives meaningful.
Leaders crave having the requirement (or duty) to be accountable for something they have control over. If they are in charge of a team with the mission to sell widgets, then the leader of that team derives satisfaction from not just selling widgets but from being the best at selling widgets.
The idea that our accumulation of responsibilities is what makes us who we are is not a new idea but Western thought has relegated it to unimportance in a modern-enlightened society. Leaders say all the time that while it is important to them that they have certain rights, it matters little when compared to the huge responsibilities they bare.
Men, in particular, young men who are not employed have a much higher incidence of opiate addiction, suicide, violence, and alcoholism … and this is greater for men than women with the same unemployment status. What these men are lacking is a return to the responsibilities that they desperately hunger for.
Leadership is one area where men are highly driven to achieve. They look for those skills and characteristics needed to do well and go to get lengths to achieve. This could explain why Peterson’s speeches are attended by men in greater numbers.
Leadership means many things yet among them certain values stand out; loyalty, duty, respect, honor, integrity, courage, and selflessness. These are extensions of responsibility and what makes men and women what they are in life.