Let me start with a brief story about a nearly lost man and the simple thing that saved him. Three years ago I was on the road for work, and I was picked up at the airport by a young guy who looked like a vet. We had a ninety-minute trip to the speaking venue, and so we struck up a conversation. I asked him if he served. He said yes. I asked him if he deployed. He said yes, to Afghanistan. I asked how he was fitting in after he came back home.
He got quiet for a moment. He said, “Have you heard of Jordan Peterson?” I said yes, absolutely. In fact, I’d just reviewed his book for National Review. “Well, Jordan Peterson saved my life.”
How? The story begins the way a lot of veterans’ stories begin. After he came back from war, he felt lost. He had no purpose. In a flash he’d gone from an existence where every day mattered and every day had a mission to a world that seemed empty and aimless by comparison. To put it in the words of a cavalry officer I served with in Iraq, “I wonder if I’ve done the most significant thing I’ll ever do by the time I’m 25 years old.”
The young man I was talking to had no mission. He also had no mentor. He picked up the bottle so much that he couldn’t put it down. Eventually he had suicidal thoughts. How did Jordan Peterson bring him back? He told him to clean up his room. Yep, clean up his room. He told him to get organized. He told him to stop saying things that aren’t true.