Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Self-help gurus are there to help.
Help themselves to a lot of money, some might gruff.
As they do this, they hope to inspire others to help themselves, and perhaps make a lot of money too.
Or, at least, to be happier.
It's worth, though, being careful about your expectations.
Here, for example, is a 19-year-old male who went to see Jordan Peterson.
Peterson isn't your everyday self-help guru. He's an actual professor. But many, many people -- mostly known as men -- flock to his books and shows, in order to be inspired.
After all, he's the author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Who doesn't want less chaos in their lives? Especially in our rampantly chaotic times.
Please let's join, then, the 19-year-old who described on Reddit how he went to see Peterson speak, accompanied by his 17-year-old girlfriend.
Our 19-year-old hero is a true fan. He writes of Peterson:
I was never a big reader, but I got all of his books. (They are the only books on my bookshelf and also a book about John F. Kennedy my aunt gave me but I never read. So I don't have many books and its a small shelf.)
Our hero says he fought chaos by tidying his room. He adorned it with a poster of Peterson.
Why bring his girlfriend along? Well, she's messy too, apparently, even in her note-taking during classes.
Worse, she didn't seem to enjoy it when our hero listened to Peterson's lectures at home.
Still, our hero is committed to love. Deeply. He writes:
Not long ago it was coming up on the day that we met (our anniversary) and we had a nice dinner at a seafood place we both really like. A few days later I got us tickets to see Dr. Peterson speak. I had hoped that it would be better than the videos. She seemed excited to go and we had a nice night together.
A success. Whenever chaos is attacked, good things emerge.
Or do they?
Our hero says his girlfriend then ghosted him. There is little worse. Being ignored is the greatest pain of our times.
Think of all those who post pictures on Instagram and only get a couple of Likes.
It seems, however, that our hero's girlfriend couldn't ignore the way Peterson had impacted her boyfriend's life. She finally sent our hero an email. He describes it like this:
She said that she wanted some space and that she needed to think. That things were changing and that they weren't the same as they were. She actually blamed Dr. Peterson for changing me! Which is true but I thought I changed for the better. She said I was being really strict with the cleanliness now and that I was saying too much about her being messy.
I don't know. Sometimes, the best intentions lead to a sticky demise.
Our hero adds that a mutual (female) friend explained to him that his girlfriend had been "weirded out" by the guru. She wasn't moved that her boyfriend began to cry, as did other men, during Peterson's talk.
One should always be careful about exposing lovers to our deepest enthusiasms. They may, indeed, be weirded out. It's happened to me when I revealed my affection for the Los Angeles Chargers.
In this case, though, it may be that our hero didn't imagine how some of Peterson's actual ideas might upset his love. He writes of his conversation with the mutual friend:
She also said that my girlfriend thought some of the things Dr. Peterson said about relationships were chauvinistic and unrealistic. And then she (not my girlfriend but our friend) said she researched Dr. Peterson and that he hated women and kind of scolded me. I told her that was just SJW/Cultural Marxist propaganda, that Dr. Peterson wasn't really like that and she just didn't understand him.
You see, politics have riven everything. Then again, a couple of Peterson's ideas might be disturbing to some.
He believes white privilege doesn't exist. Neither, he believes, does EQ. His ideas about women might also incite a reaction. For example, his notion that women have "an unconscious wish for brutal male domination."
Oh, and here's another of his thoughts:
There's been an adolescent insistence since the early sixties that sexual behavior can be rule-free. Now a lot of that was generated as a consequence of the birth control pill, because that was a biological revolution. All of a sudden women can control their reproductive function, in principle...What does that make women? Because now they're a new biological entity. And so, it's wide open. What are women now? We don't know.
I fear, though, that in the case of our hero's girlfriend, we do know. She's someone who believes her boyfriend has become a bit of a retrograde freak.
It's not for me to say whether she's right, but there's a lesson for all in this.
Self-help philosophers can offer great comfort. They move you to paroxysms of hope. They can make you feel better about yourself. They can show you ways of thinking that you hadn't considered before.
There's also, though, the potential that they get you to focus so much on yourself that you lose sight of, well, anyone else.
I fear our hero may have fallen into this trap.
Worse, I fear he's risking chaos returning to his life. He wants to get his girlfriend to be at one with Peterson.
Many of his fellow Redditors aren't optimistic. Sample:
She's not your girlfriend anymore, dude.
Then there was this from another Redditor handle liminalsoup:
Dude, all your books you have are JP (except one) plus you have a poster on of him on your wall. Plus you constantly try to force her to watch her videos, and when she refuses, you buy her tickets to his show instead. Yes, i agree with her. You are obsessed.