Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist

Mastering the Self: The Path to Personal Empowerment


The works of Jordan Peterson and Steven Pressfield stand out for their profound insights into human nature and motivation. Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life” [1] and Pressfield’s “Do the Work” [2] offer complementary perspectives on overcoming internal barriers and embracing personal responsibility, resonating deeply with anyone on a journey of self-discovery and improvement.

“[T]he journey to self-improvement and success is paved with the stones of personal responsibility and relentless pursuit of one’s goals, despite the internal battles one might face.”

Peterson, in his book “12 Rules for Life,” particularly in Chapter 6, underscores the importance of setting one’s house in order before attempting to tackle the world’s chaos. This chapter, titled “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world,” delves into the concept of self-examination and personal responsibility. Peterson challenges readers to focus on sorting out their lives, arguing that self-improvement is a crucial first step towards making a meaningful impact on the world. This message is a call to introspection and action, emphasizing the need for individuals to look inward and rectify their own lives before passing judgment on external circumstances.

NEW-12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Parallel to Peterson’s rule of setting one’s house in order, Pressfield’s “Do the Work” addresses the challenge of overcoming internal barriers such as procrastination, self-doubt, and fear that hinder creative endeavors. Pressfield, renowned for his insights into the creative process, speaks directly to the artist in everyone. He posits that resistance is the primary obstacle to creation and success. “Doing the work” means actively engaging in the process, maintaining discipline, and consistently putting effort into your goals, regardless of the internal challenges you may face. This approach is about breaking through the barriers of resistance and committing to the path of creation and self-expression.

Do The Work, by Steven Pressfield

Both authors converge on the theme of taking control of one’s life. Peterson’s focus on self-responsibility and Pressfield’s emphasis on overcoming resistance both advocate for a proactive approach to life. They encourage individuals to confront and manage their internal struggles, whether those are feelings of inadequacy, lack of direction, or the myriad distractions that impede progress.

Applying these lessons can be transformative, especially for those navigating the complexities of personal and professional goals. For artists, creators, and anyone striving for personal growth, the synergy of these teachings lies in recognizing that true change begins within. It’s about acknowledging one’s own role in their circumstances, and the power they hold to effect change.

In practice, this means regular self-reflection, acknowledgment of one’s weaknesses and strengths, and a commitment to continuous improvement. For the artist, it involves facing the blank canvas despite the fear, for the professional, it means tackling projects with determination, and for the individual, it’s about personal development and growth.

Both Peterson and Pressfield offer a roadmap to a fulfilling life, not by eliminating challenges, but by teaching us how to confront and overcome them. Their message is clear: the journey to self-improvement and success is paved with the stones of personal responsibility and relentless pursuit of one’s goals, despite the internal battles one might face.

In essence, the journey is about empowerment – recognizing that you have the power to change your life, create your art, and influence the world, starting from within. It’s a journey that demands courage, discipline, and an unyielding commitment to “doing the work,” a mantra that both guides and inspires.Subscribe