The mistake we all make every morning.

This video is basically three videos stitched together but it does make for a powerful statement.

It kind of invokes the Peter Principle, everyone rises to their own level of incompetence.

For this, more broadly, stop bitching and do something about your situation, there are answers and alternatives, you only have to look for them.

What do you say to those of your viewers that don’t pursue their dreams and are locked into their careers because they are too afraid to take risks and pursue something meaningful?

Well, the first thing I would say is, well, you shouldn’t be afraid of taking risks and pursuing something meaningful, but you should be more afraid of staying where you are if it’s making you miserable.

It’s like the first thing you want to do is dispense with the idea that you get to have any, any permanent security outside of your ability to contend and adapt.

It’s the same issue with children.

It’s like you’re paying a price by sitting there being miserable, and you might say, well, the devil I know is better than the one I don’t it’s like, don’t be so sure of that.

The clock is ticking.

And if you’re miserable in your job now, and you change nothing in five years, you’ll be much more miserable and you’ll be a lot older.

But isn’t it a luxury to pursue what is meaningful?

Our viewers have mortgages.

They have children, they have payments and loans.

It’s a luxury to pursue because we lack the resources.

Well, I don’t think, I don’t remember.

Now I’m not talking about what makes you happy.

It’s a luxury to pursue what makes you happy.

It’s a moral obligation to pursue what you find meaningful.

And that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I

t might require sacrifice.

If you need to change your job to, let’s say you have a family and children and a mortgage, you have responsibilities.

You’ve already picked up those responsibilities you don’t just get to walk away scot-free and say, well, I don’t like my job, I quit.

That’s no strategy.

But what you might have to do is you think, well, this job is killing my soul.

All right.

So what do I have to do about that?

Well, I have to look for another job.

Well, no one wants to hire me.

It’s like, okay, maybe you need to educate yourself more.

Maybe you need to update your, your curriculum vitae, your resume.

Maybe you need to overcome your fear of being interviewed.

Maybe you need to sharpen your social skills.

Like you, you have to think about these things strategically.

If you’re going to switch careers, you have to do it like an intelligent, responsible person that might take you a couple of years of, of effort to do properly.

When you say pursue something meaningful, is it important to have a vocation?

I think it’s more important to, to have a, an ethos, an ethic.

So I have a program for example, called the future offering program, which is a writing program that enables people to develop a vision for their life and then to develop a strategy.

And so it’s based on the idea, imagine that, and it’s an extension of the ideas in the book, or at least something along the same lines.

The first thing that you want to do is figure out, imagine you were taking care of yourself.

Like you were someone you cared for, which is rule number two, by the way, essentially.

Then you should figure out, well, if you could have what you needed and wanted, what would it be?

What sort of friends would you have?

What would your family relationships look like?

How would you conduct yourself with your children?

How would you educate yourself?

You need to think through how it is that your life could be properly arranged if you had that ability and then you can aim at that, and the funny thing is is that if you do posit a goal of that sort and work towards it, you will move towards it.

The goal will change because you’ll learn things along the way.

But I mean, I’ve, I’ve dealt with hundreds of people in my clinical and consulting practice and we set a goal.

We develop a vision and work towards it and it things inevitably get better for people.

So it’s not a luxury.

It’s, it’s difficult, it’s a moral responsibility and it isn’t happiness.

It’s, it’s not the pursuit isn’t for happiness.

It’s a moral responsibility to push what is meaning?

Absolutely. So when, you know, if you watch yourself, you say, well, I had a particularly good day at work.

And what does that mean?

Well, it means that you lost your sense of time. Right?

Because when you’re having not a good day at work, it’s like first it’s one minute to three, and then it’s 45 seconds to three.

And then it’s 30 seconds.

That’s what school was like for me, it was like.


So funny.

You know, I went to, I went to my daughter’s school.

I used to get in trouble for talking all the time.

Surprise, surprise when I was a kid.

And and I was bored stiff in school.

And, and so I would misbehave upon occasion, out of pure boredom.

And about 21 years ago, I went to my daughter’s school to sit for a class.

It was about an hour long.

And I was sitting there and the teacher had all the kids on the floor and was having some of the kids read to the others.

And some of the kids who were reading, couldn’t read at all.

And I had exactly the same experience I was sitting there.

It was like being, it’s like being seven years old again

I could see the clock going tick, tick.

And I thought, you know, if I was in this classroom for three days,

I would misbehave fit 40 years old.

I would misbehave.

Exactly like I did when I was, when I was six.

Well, that’s no place to be, right?

Because that’s, you don’t want to be in a place that stultifying, you don’t want to be in a place where there’s no challenge.

You might even quit your job if there’s no challenge say, well, that’s a good job.

It gives you security and you think, God, I can’t stand this.

It’s eating away at my soul.

It’s all security and no challenge.

So why do you want a challenge?

Because that’s what you’re built for.

That’s what you’re built for.

You’re built to take on a maximum load, right?

Cause that’s what strengthens you.

And you need to be strong because life is extraordinarily difficult.

And because the evil King is always whittling away at the structure of the state and you have to be awake and sharp to stop that from happening so that you don’t become corrupt. and so that your family doesn’t become corrupt.

And so that your state doesn’t have to be become corrupt.

You have to have your eyes open and your wits sharp and your words at the ready, and you have to be educated and you have to know about your history and you have to know how to think, and you have to know how to read and you have to know how to speak, and you have to know how to aim and you have to be willing to hoist the troubles of the world up on your shoulders.

And what’s so interesting about that.

So remarkable, and, and this is something that’s really manifested itself to me as I’ve been doing these public lectures, I’ve been talking about responsibility to people which doesn’t seem to happen very often anymore.

And the audiences are dead quiet.

And I lay out this idea that life is tragedy, tainted by malevolence.

And everyone says, yeah, well, we already always suspected that, but no one has ever said it quite so bluntly.

And it’s quite a relief to hear that I’m not the only person who has those suspicions.

And then the second part of that is the better part.

And it’s the optimistic part, which is despite the fact that life is a tragedy tainted by malevolence at every level of existence.

There’s something about the human spirit that can thrive under precisely those conditions if we allow that to occur because as difficult as life is, and as horrible as we are our capacity to deal with that catastrophe and to transcend that malevolent spirit is more powerful than the, than that reality itself.

And that’s the fundamental issue. I think that’s the fundamental issue of the Judeo-Christian ethic with its emphasis on the divinity of the individual, as catastrophic as life is.

And as malevolent as people can be, and that’s malevolent beyond belief, fundamentally.

A person has in spirit, the nobility to set that right, and to defeat evil and that, and that more than that and that the antidote to the catastrophe of life and the suffering of life and the tragedy of life that can drive you down and destroy you is to take on exactly that responsibility and to say, well, there’s plenty of work to be done.

And isn’t that terrible.

And there isn’t anything so bad that we can’t make it worse and certainly try very hard to do so.

But I have it within me to decide that I’m going to stand up against that.

I’m going to strive to make the world a better place. I’m going to strive to constrain the malevolence that’s in my own heart and to set my family straight and to work, to work despite my tragic lot for the betterment of anything of everything that’s in front of me.

And the consequence of that, the immediate consequence of that is that when you make the decision to take on all of that voluntarily, which is to stand up straight, by the way, with your shoulders back to take on that, all that on voluntarily, as soon as you make that decision, then all the catastrophe justifies itself in the nobility of your striving.

And that’s what it means to be an individual.

Thank you.

I was twenty-five or so I probably weighed about 138 pounds.

I smoked like a pack cigarettes day.

I drank tremendous amount of alcohol.

I was from Northern Alberta, this rough little town up in Northern Alberta called Fairview.

And, you know, there were long winters there and my friends were heavy drinkers and most of them dropped out of school.

By the time they were 15 or 16, went off to work on the oil rigs.

And, you know, it was a rough town and we drank a lot.

And I started when I was 14 and, you know and so I was, I had a lot of bad habits let’s say, and things that were, and I wasn’t in great shape physically.

And I was also still intellectually obsessed by as I am now.

And so that would have been, that would have been in 85, but when I, but I decided around that about 85, 84, something like that, maybe a little earlier that I was really gonna try to get my act together.

And so I started doing that.

I, you know, I, first of all, I, I quit smoking well, that took a long time because I eventually had to quit drinking to, in order to quit smoking.

And I started working out, started playing sports, which I’d never done.

I was a small kid. I skipped a grade and I was a small, small for my age.

So sports were never, especially team sports were never really a domain of expertise for me.

Although I skied and went trapping with my dad and went cross country skiing and camping and all that.

So, but when I went to graduate school, I started swimming the first, the first physical exercise routine.

I did, I enrolled in a swimersize course I think it was called, it was me and this like really overweight kid.

And like these 60 year old women and men and they could out exercise me like mad.

It was really embarrassing.

Me and the overweight kid, you know, we’d be just panting ourselves, three quarters to death at the end of the bloody workout in these 60 year old women who weren’t great shape or like, you know, chatting away w as if nothing was going on at all in the pool.

So that was quite embarrassing.

And as was going to the weight room, you know, because when I started, I could barely best bench press 75 pounds.

And people used to keep coming over and helping me, which was last thing I bloody well wanted, but certainly needed.

And I got to the point where I could bench press 225 pounds. I think that was the best I did.

And I gained about 30 pounds of muscle in a year and a half.

So that was a good thing.

So like, I was kind of a wild man and, you know, I’m a little bit manic in my, in my temperament.

And so, you know, I was, I was kind of going every direction at the same time.

So, and you know, I don’t regret that.

I had a fine time when I was a kid in, but I needed really to get disciplined and I had to do it because I was working on these hard problems that, you know, that I’ve been discussing with all of you.

And I’ve been working them really, you know, obsessively since I was probably about 18, maybe even earlier than that, got to the point around twenty-five when I was in graduate school, trying to get my PhDs, doing all my research.

Like I published 15 papers by the time I graduated with my PhD, which was by, I think by a fairly large measure, the most papers that any graduate student at that time had ever published at McGill, I think that’s right.

It might have been twice as many, or maybe twice as many, maybe even three times as many.

And at the same time I wrote Maps of Meaning, which was a terrible, terrible, terribly difficult thing to do.

Cause I was writing about three hours a day doing that, and I couldn’t do all that and continue with my misbehavior.

You know, my sort of my, what would you say?

My, my, my hedonistic, my hedonistic, my massive hedonistic consumption of alcohol and all of that.

I just couldn’t keep it up and also work seriously on the issues that were at hand.

So, you know, I had to stop.

That’s a sacrifice I had to stop messing about and straighten myself out.

And I, I got married while my, a woman, who’s my wife, Tammy, who I’ve known since she was eight years old.

She lived across the street from me and this little town called Fairview.

And I was in love with her.

Like first time I saw her, which is quite bloody thing.

So that’s worked out pretty well for me, but she came to live with me about the same time.

And, you know, we decided jointly to get our act together.

And we swore that we tell each other the truth, which I think she’s actually done better than me.

Like I don’t think, I don’t think she’s lied to me ever in our entire marriage, which is unbelievable.

You know?

And it’s been so useful because I can really tell her things that we can really talk.

So I tell you, if you want to have a good relationship, man, you embed it in the truth because if you don’t embed it in the truth, you don’t have a relationship.

It’s, it’s just lies.

It’s a tissue of lies and it will, it will dissolve into chaos as soon as the crisis comes along.

So the truth is a terrible thing, but not, not compared to falsehood.

So, all right, so let’s look at the live chat here,

Here, you hear the egalitarian Clarion call everywhere.

Everything should be equal.

Everything should be equally distributed.

We should strive for equity.

It’s like wrong, especially if you’re a conservative wrong.

What we want are just hierarchies of competence, not everyone’s a neurosurgeon.

You know, if your father has a brain tumor, you probably want a hierarchy of competence for neurosurgeons.

So you can pick the one that’s the best so that he might not die.

That’s what a hierarchy of competence is for, for the postmodernists.

There’s no hierarchy that isn’t based on power.

Well, because they think the world runs on power.

And that’s why they’re willing to use power to get what they want, because it’s the only thing they believe in.

But a valid hierarchy of competence.

It’s God, we need those things, man.

We need the best plumbers.

We need the best contractors we need the best we knew we need the best carpenters we need.

The best lecturers.

There has to be a hierarchy of quality, not only so that we know who the best are and can reward them properly, but so that we can reward them so they keep being the best.

It’s like, you know, if, if you have a great educator, if you have a great leader, if you have a great thinker, you want to reward them.

So they keep thinking and they keep educating.

So they can tell you something, it’s not a reward for their intrinsic being.

It’s a calculated move on your part to suck everything out of them that’s valuable as fast as you can.

That’s what a hierarchy of competence is for.

And the idea that hierarchies of competence don’t exist is it’s so cynical.

It’s such a pathologically cynical idea, and it’s actually quite patently untrue because here’s an interesting tidbit from the psychological literature.

Let’s say you want to determine what the best predictors are for lifetime success in a Western society.

Well, what would you hope for?

How about intelligence?

There would be a good one.

Let’s hope the smart people occupy more positions of complexity, right?

Because they’re smarter.

Would you want it any other way?

Okay. And then, so, and that’s great.

The number one predictor of accomplishment in Western societies is intelligence.

So that means the system works.

What’s the number two predictor conscientiousness.

Well, what’s that it’s a trait marker for hard work.

So who co who gets ahead smart people who work hard now that doesn’t account for every bit of the difference between people in terms of their hierarchical structure, because hierarchies aren’t perfect.

They’re corrupt.

People get to the top sometimes because they’re psychopathic.

Although believe me a hell of a lot less than you think, because a psychopath has to keep moving from place to place.

Because once he reveals himself as deceitful and untrustworthy, he has to go find new suckers to fleece.

So the idea that, you know, there’s no distinction between a CEO and a psychopath.

It’s like that’s only made by someone who

  • A knows nothing about psychopaths.
  • B knows nothing about CEOs and
  • C has something fundamental against the entire capitalist structure because it’s simply not true.

Corrupt, sometimes.

Greedy, sometimes.

Short-Sighted, sometimes running companies that are doing their best to auger themselves into the ground.

And so, you know, it’s bad people running a dying organization, but generally speaking, it’s not the case our hierarchies of competence are reasonably functional and not only are they functional, they’re valuable.

We need to know who the competent people are and we need to reward them.

And even more importantly, we need to tell young people, Hey, there’s some hierarchies of competence out there.

Like a thousand of them go be a plumber man, but be a good one.

You know, be an honest one B I had a plumber once.

You know, it was the night.

It was the night before we were putting drywall in our house.

We were redoing a house and he had put in all the plastic piping, you know, and I was going to test the joints.

These are supposed to be glued together with his pipe glue.

Right. And I said, I told him, I had to test the joints.

And he said, well, you don’t have to test my joints.

They never leak.

And I thought, yeah, that’s okay.

How about if I test them?

So I went up on the third floor and filled the pipes with water, capping them in the basement.

Like you’re supposed to like half an hour later, I had two inches of water in the basement.

There were 30 leaking joints.

That was the night before the drywallers were supposed to show up.

So well, so he wasn’t particularly competent.

That’s the point of that story, but even more so he had put a bunch of the plastic pipe outside where the drywall would be.

So it would have been sticking through the wall.

So I spent a frenetic night, you know, sawing through plastic pipe and re gluing joints so that my well, so that the drywallers could come in.

What’s the point.

If you’re going to be a plumber, man, be a good plumber because otherwise all you do is go out there and cause trouble.

We don’t need people to cause more trouble.

We need people to solve problems, you know?

And so you can be a tradesman and you can be, can make a lot of money as a trades person.

That’s a bloody, reliable, honorable forthright, productive way of making a living.

And there is a hell of a lot of difference between a working man who knows what he’s doing, and one who doesn’t both in terms of skill and ethics, right?

And you work with someone who knows what they’re doing.

It’s a bloody pleasure.

They tell you what they’re going to do.

They tell you how much it will cost.

They go and do it.

It works and you pay them perfect.

Everyone’s happy.

And that’s what happens when you have genuine hierarchies of competence.

And so you listen to these panderers of egalitarianism gala, egalitarianism and equity, and they fail to recognize completely that there are differences in rank between people.

It’s not such a terrible thing, man, maybe you wouldn’t be a great lawyer.

Like it’s certainly possible.

Most people aren’t.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something you could be great at.

There’s lots of hierarchies to attempt to climb.

And if you fail in one, go try in another.

But the point is, you’re still trying to aim for the top and what the hell are you going to do if you don’t try to aim for the top.

You know, flap about uselessly and whine about your life.

It’s not helpful.

It’ll just make you miserable.

You’re not reliable to anyone.

You can’t help out in a crisis.

It’s like, so you tell young people, and this is another message for conservatives.

Like, I don’t care what you’re going to do, but go out there and make something of yourself for God’s sake, be an honest person and work and get to the top of whatever it is that you want to get to the top of, you know, and, and, and, and stand up for yourself like a respectable human being and be a bit of a light on the world instead of a blight, you know?

And you can tell young people that, and they haven’t been told that by anyone now.

And so the young men are so hungry for that, that it’s, it’s painful to watch.

They’re so relieved when finally someone finally comes up and says, Hey, you know, you, you get your act together a bit, discipline yourself.

See if you can learn to tell the truth, concentrate on something for a year or two, you could be a bloody world beater.

They think really that’s possible.


That would be, that would be interesting.

That might make life or life worth living.

Like, yeah, it might.

So why don’t you go do it?

That’s what the damn universities were supposed to be teaching people.

And they’ve forgotten that I went to Harvard month ago, month and a half.

I used to teach there.

And I talked to a bunch of students, you know what I told them, it’s not easy to get into Harvard.

You know, like you’re a valedictorian.

If you’re at Harvard and not only are you a valedictorian, you’re way better than most people at at least two other things, or you don’t get in.

And so like, it’s, I dunno what the acceptance rate is like 5% and believe me, not everybody applies.

So it’s a very selective school.

And so why am I saying that it’s like, these are high quality kids.

So I told them what I just told you.

It’s like, here you are at Harvard.

It’s like, get yourself educated, man, read some books, learn to talk, learn to think, make yourself into something, get the hell out there and make the world that put you here happy that you were put there in that great institution.

You know?

And they came up to me afterwards and said, God, I wish someone would have told us that when we were in our first year, it’s like, Jesus, why didn’t someone tell them that for God’s sake, it’s supposed to be the greatest university in the world. Is it so difficult to figure that out?

Well, it is.

If that is what you want to have happen in the university, you want to make cringing milk SOPs who whined about being victims while they’re going to Ivy league institutions.

Jesus, it’s pathetic.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this, your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, even mine.

I still don’t know what mistake I make every morning though. I missed that in the video and the transcription.

I suspect that the wrong thumbnail was put on the video by the original creator.

Back to the Main page. Previous page.