Reading List (Update): Self Improvement

By | January 4, 2019

[January 4, 2019]  I couldn’t help it.  Just like my attraction toward the study of grand strategy, I’m drawn to the study of the individual.  More often, I find myself looking for ways to better understand people; usually through direct interaction but also through formal book study.  Creating good habits, knowing what makes up great leadership, what leaders are thinking when they make important decisions, etc. … all are part of my goal of being a better leader.  Each day, I am sworn to make some improvement in my ability to be a better leader (however small or seemingly insignificant).  This is why I have this leadership blog, this reading list, and why I continue to write about it.  As I’ve outlined below, Jordan Peterson’s new book on life fits that goal of getting my understanding of the individual on target.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan B. Peterson, 2018.

Psychologist Jordan Peterson makes life interesting.  While that is certainly not a booming recommendation to read this book, it does get to the heart of why I like listening to his public comments (which can be found on YouTube) and enjoy his ability to simplify the complexities of the psychology of people.  I also read his latest book.  Right up front I must note that this is not a self-help book like so many of my friends suggested it might be.  What Peterson is doing here is NOT trying to make you more successful; a chore that I usually insist upon when reviewing books.  What I like is Peterson’s willingness to simply proclaim that people need to learn to be ready to deal with adversity.

His 12 Rules provide us with suggestions and guidelines to move toward making us a better people.  Peterson believes that the basic building block of society is the individual and that the solution to improve our overall condition starts within each of us.  Thus, the effort to make small, incrementally good changes in ourselves is the beginning.  Such a book ought to be required study at the High School today; not to check a box but to offer up pragmatic changes to help those young folks in their journey toward personal fulfillment.  A little understanding of the human mind is good for those of us who also want to understand ‘why’.

Professor Peterson also gives us a lesson on how easy it is for peaceful folks with good intentions to blindly follow destructive ideologies and behaviors.  Everyone wants the world to be a better place; more honest, fair, less dangerous, and enlightening.  Yet, as Peterson notes, we fail to improve our own mind, body, and relationships.  The result is chaos.  What that means is that those who are the most dishonest, most brutal, and most thuggish will become more powerful and richer.  The 12 Rules helps avoid such a terrible outcome.

Overall, an exceptional book and highly recommended.

To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Reading List (Update): Self Improvement

  1. Roger Yellowmule

    This is one of my favorite persons to listen to explain the complex.

  2. Dale Paul Fox

    The one-time dish washer and mill worker spent nearly 20 years at the University before garnering international attention. In September 2016, Peterson released a couple of videos opposing an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act which he contended could send someone to jail for refusing to use a made-up gender identity pronoun. Peterson went on to testify before the Canadian Senate, and has emerged as a foremost critic of postmodernism on North American campuses.

  3. Doug Smith

    Peterson is direct. He has opinions. I don’t always agree with them. But he is genuinely expressing himself, and the belief that we should all try to be better. We should all try to be more compassionate, and most of all, we all should try to understand our humanity a little more each and every there.

  4. Gil Johnson

    Excellent book. I read it a few months ago and enjoyed it enough that I’m re-reading it to pick up on points I may have missed the first time.

  5. Jerome Smith

    His book gives no BS guidelines about taking control of your life despite the overwhelming odds against us each and every day. After finishing this book, I felt relieved that someone understands my struggles as a man trying to make the best of my life in a chaotic and fragile world. I learned to embrace the little things, to be grateful, but at the same time also not to let people with opposing views walk over me. Dr. Petersen’s, life experience has also given him legitimate credibility.

    1. Fred Weber

      Very true. Thanks Jerome for noting that we all have “struggles” but it is up to us, each one of us, to make a life correction; not someone else or the govt.

  6. Bryan Lee

    I just finished reading it (actually, a few days ago). This book has an unmeasurable significance to me. It rekindled my interest in living, made me aware of my own faults and virtues. My nihilism has come to a halt, and I could proudly say that I’m on my way to finding my purpose in life, whatever it might be.

  7. Nick Lighthouse

    For the final note, as a long-time Star Wars fan, I’d rather spend my time rereading this book than rewatching the new Star Wars movie. Dr. Peterson is the new hope, the returning Jedi sage that would bring balance to our little planet right here in this galaxy. But only if we choose to follow his 12 rules for life (plus subscribe to his YouTube channel and click the bell button).

  8. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    My personal favorite of Dr. Peterson’s 12 Rules:
    Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. Life is tragic and there’s malevolence. There’s plenty to complain about, but if you dwell on it, you will become bitter and tread down a path that will take you to twisted places.

    1. Tracey Brockman

      I wholeheartedly agree. University professors and snowflakes should read this book. They regularly violate this “rule.”

    2. Willie Shrumburger

      Excellent point. I too like this rule the best. Just my opinion.

  9. Lynn Pitts

    His 12 Rules serve as a guide on how to go from a point of failure to a point of redemption, offering a series of suggestions and guidelines to take a life that is becoming corrupted by hatred of the world and everything in it and turn it into a vessel for growth and self-improvement.

  10. Dennis Mathes

    Quotable quote from the introduction.
    “But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions – and there’s nothing freeing about that.”

  11. Anita

    I read his book slowly to make sure his ideas sank in. I also recommend it for anyone. Some of the beginning is a little slow but he is setting the table to build upon in the 12 chapters on self improvement. Correct, this is not a self help book but a self improvement book. Know the difference and you will be a better person.

    1. Eva Easterbrook

      Thanks Anita. Good to read that you also read the book and enjoyed it.

  12. Andrew Dooley

    Peterson is attacked by lefties because he says that to be successful all we have to be is strong and willing. The political left believes that people who fail, only fail because they are discriminated against. Snowflakes are snowflakes regardless.

  13. Army Captain

    Prof Peterson is great. He gets directly to the center of any issue and is willing to be nonPC to hammer the point home that no one owes us anything.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Good morning (my time) in the Eastern USA. Hope all is well with you Army Captain. Thanks for noting how non Politically Correct Professor Peterson is. 🙂

    2. Wilson Cox

      I’ll be buying the book later today after I get home from work. Thanks Army Captain.


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