Jordan Peterson: Facing Your Inner Darkness and Breaking Your Wretched Loop – Jocko Podcast

Key Takeaways

  • Two fundamental rules people have trouble accepting:
    • Life is suffering
    • People have the capacity to be malevolent
  • Take EXTREME OWNERSHIP of your life
  • A good question to ponder:
    • “How many things am I doing that I know are wrong, that I could fix, that I’m not fixing?”
  • Whatever job you’re working, try to make yourself indispensable
  • Meaning is found through responsibility – the more responsibilities you take on, the more meaning you’ll find in life
  • Discipline Equals Freedom
    • The more discipline you have in life to get the hard things done, the more freedom you’ll have as a result


  • Jordan B. Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto

Books Mentioned

Evil Does Exist in the World

  • Jocko starts the podcast by reading an article about an innocent woman who was forced to perform sexual acts on ISIS members, highlighting the fact that evil does exist in the world
  • People in first world countries often forget that the entire world is not like their city
    • Right this second, there is someone across the world being robbed, raped, or murdered
  • Two fundamental rules people have trouble accepting:
    • Life is suffering
    • People have the capacity to be malevolent
  • On the bright side, if there is evil in the world, that means there’s also good
    • Viktor Frankl, who was in Auschwitz, was able to survive the concentration camps and write a book about his experience (Man’s Search for Meaning) that had a positive impact on millions of people worldwide
  • Many people have forgotten about the huge evils of the past: the Holocaust, Maoist China, Soviet communist gulags, etc.
  • When people read books about horrific events, they often put themselves into the shoes of the good guy, while the truth is, the majority of people would most likely play the role of the bad guy
    • You have to read history books not as the victim, but as the perpetrator
    • Jordan recommends the book Ordinary Men – it describes the descent of ordinary German policemen into evil men
      • “If you want to know how you can be enticed to walk down the terrible path, that’s the book to read”
      • The men didn’t turn evil overnight, it was a slow process where one bad decision was made after another

Sacrifice, School Shooters, and Taking Responsibility

  • Do more favors for people
    • If you do someone a favor, they’ll remember it when you need help
  • Give up something of value today so that you can make the future better – this is what a sacrifice represents
    • Often times the things that are stopping us from moving forward are the things we should no longer be attached to
  • School shooters
    • Often times, they hate their lives and other people so much that they desire to inflict as much pain to the world as possible
    • After they kill innocent people, the shooters often take their own lives
      • Why don’t they just kill themselves first and save everyone the trouble?
        • School shooters want to cause as much damage to others as they can as a way to get revenge on the world for making their lives so difficult
    • Advice from Jordan – Instead of trying to curse the world, take responsibility onto yourself, identify what you may be doing wrong, and correct your actions
  • If your life is going badly and you’re starting to hate others:
    • Take responsibility for failure onto yourself
    • Start to get your act together
    • Take advantage of opportunities that come your way
    • Stop being resentful and bitter

Take Extreme Ownership of Your Life

  • Jocko and Jordan come from two completely different backgrounds, one was a Navy SEAL and the other a psychology professor, and yet they reached the same conclusion – Take EXTREME OWNERSHIP of your life
  • When people don’t take ownership of their lives, small problems and fears grow, and over time…they become so big that people don’t know how to deal with them
  • Start by taking ownership of your life before you try to solve the world’s biggest problems – what does an 18-year-old know about the economy or global warming? Almost nothing.
    • Start with small problems instead and work your way up:
      • Learn to discipline yourself
      • Clean up your own house
      • Get to class and work on time
      • Take responsibility for your actions
      • Find ways to improve your community
  • “How many things are you doing that you know are wrong, that you could fix, that you aren’t fixing?”
  • When opportunities present themselves to you in life, take them!
    • Jordan’s first job was washing dishes at a restaurant. He did good work and got promoted to a short-order cook and learned the fundamentals of cooking – a skill he used for the rest of his life.
      • Whatever the job, try to make yourself indispensable – the more value you provide, the more options/negotiating power you’ll have

Defining A Good Man

  • “A harmless man is not a good man, a good man is a very, very dangerous man who has things under voluntary control”
  • If you’re around people who are dangerous but disciplined, everyone watches their step and acts in line
  • Jocko’s 3 steps for becoming a man:
    • Learning how to fight and defend yourself
    • Going into combat and facing death
    • Taking care of your wife and children
  • Every man has the capacity to be a monster – it’s up to them to integrate that part of themselves, and then constrain/discipline it, so it only comes out when necessary

Meaning in Life

  • When rats are isolated, they are more prone to drug addiction
    • Related – when humans have goals and meaning in life, they are less likely to have an addiction
  • The more meaning a person has in life, the more they’re willing to suffer for it
    • Ex. – If a football player breaks his finger during the Super Bowl, he’ll likely play through it even though the pain is likely immense
    • “If you have a purpose, it’s analgesic. It takes some of the pain out of life. It’s very positive in that it motivates and energizes you as well as quells fear.”
  • If you’re having trouble finding meaning, start by fixing up small parts of your life
    • List as many bad habits as you can that if fixed, would start to turn your life around
  • Meaning is found through responsibility. The more responsibilities you take on, the more meaning you’ll generally find.
    • It’s a difficult and hard road, but the other option is to do nothing while you grow bitter, resentful and vengeful
  • “If your life isn’t everything you think it should be, you have to ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can”

Hierarchies Are Real

  • Just because you don’t see hierarchies in life, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist – lobsters, chimps, and humans all have a position in a hierarchy
    • The best hierarchies are based on competence, not power – hierarchies based on power are tyrannies
      • The “alpha” chimp is not the most aggressive one, it’s the one with strong social connections and competence
        • Jocko mentions that most of the “meanest” SEALs made bad leaders because no one liked them and didn’t want to work for them

Create A Life Plan

  • An exercise:
    • Take a piece of paper and write down the life you would like to have 5 years from now and the steps needed to achieve it
    • Next, write down what your life would look like if you did the opposite
  • This exercise motivates you twice – it motivates you towards living a better life while also motivating you to work hard in order to avoid a bad life
  • 10,000 university students did this exercise and as a result, they were 30% more likely to stay in school (their GPAs also rose by about the same)
  • “What do you want your life to be like, what should it be like? And what shouldn’t it be like? Write about that seriously like your life depends on it…because it does.”
  • Jordan Peterson is the co-founder of – a series of online writing programs that collectively help you explore your past, present, and future
  • Why is it important to have a plan?
    • You don’t get something you don’t aim at
  • Jocko and Jordan both recommend people write down the tasks they need to get done every night for the next day, so the next morning they know exactly what they should work on
  • It’s important to have a schedule in life – there are some things that suck that have to get done (paying the bills, taking out the trash, buying groceries) but you can also schedule fun things to do once you’re done with work (hanging out with friends, going on a date with your partner, watching a classic movie)
    • Balance your schedule with both obligations and rewards
      • “Treat yourself like a good boss would treat a valued employee, and not like a tyrant would treat a slave”
    • As Jocko always says, “Discipline Equals Freedom”
      • The more discipline you have in life to get the hard things done, the more freedom you’ll have as a result


  • Jordan co-created – a personality assessment test for Individuals (you answer questions and find out where you stand on the big 5 personality traits -extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism)
    • Conscientiousness is the best long term predictor of success after intelligence
    • People high in agreeableness are polite and compassionate
    • People high in openness need to do something creative and express themselves
  • It’s useful to figure out what type of personality you have so that you can find a niche in the economy that allows you to excel in your chosen career
    • Introverts tend to do better in computer programming or accounting
    • Extroverts should be working more with people

Additional Notes

  • Your # 1 job as a parent is to teach your kids how to act properly in the world so that when they interact with other kids or adults, people smile and enjoy their company
  • Take care of yourself as if you were taking care of a friend
  • You can put up with a lot of misery if you have hope and a plan to move forward in life
  • Acknowledge your fear and break it down to its weakest form, exposing yourself to increasing amounts of it over time
    • Ex. – If you’re afraid of swimming, just dip one foot in the water, and then the next day – dip two feet in…each day expose yourself to the next level
  • The secret to having a good relationship with kids is to pay attention to them
    • Attention is a child’s most desired currency
  • When you see someone put in extra effort and do something you like, reward them for it, either verbally (say thank you, compliment them) or physically (high five, give them something)
  • “Who you could be is more important than who you are”

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

Jocko Podcast : , , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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