I just took the Big Five Personality Test on Jordan B. Peterson’s website and the first thing I learned is that my wife is a saint.
I guess I knew that I had some unusual dimensions to my personality, but I did not know I was extreme in 4 out of 5 categories.
What an interesting mirror to gaze into.
Personality is heritable. One of my grandfathers lived naked on an island near Singapore for ten years, he had four careers: engineer, anthropologist, fantasy consultant, and rabbi. When I was in my early twenties he would call me up, “Butch, I found a place that sells Chinese Eyeball Soup; can I take you to lunch tomorrow?” My grandmother experienced arguing as a kind of ecstasy. Her obtuary, written by a former mayor of Seattle, had the F-word in it.
Statistically a person with my extremely high level of openness to ideas has zero possibility of success in higher education. Good to know.
In a room of 100 people in, 3 of them will be less agreeable than me, but 2 of those will be in prison.
I’m also an extreme extravert -- yes, I danced naked on TV, got away with it, and I got paid for it.
I’m the guy who will run into the burning building to save a stranger, but does not think puppies are cute.
For years I have been advocating that we teach sexual harassment and bullying as learnable skills to children in school. People think this is a joke. I was in fact secretly doing this for years under the cover of “world dance.” Which was improvisational martial arts musical theater. Teachers loved my programs, and would tell me, “You turn the worst behaved students into the highest achieving students.” “After your class, suddenly the most unfocussed students have superpowers of concentration.” No one ever copied my method, which was to reward unfocussed enthusiasm, rebelliousness, humor and obstinance. Human beings are magic.
Jordan B. Peterson has a book out called 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote to Chaos. Number 11 is: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding. I instantly cried tears of joy when I heard that. He gets it.
My wife calls me Manjushri’s Sword because I have this habit of accidentally stating the obvious in such a way that it collapses people’s worldview and causes real damage to their identities. “You don’t swear, but I still can’t take you out in public.”
The Test described me as extremely high in motivation. That made me reflect on how difficult it is for me to understand people with low motivation, which for me, is almost everyone. When I was fourteen I smoked about 100 kilos of marijuana in the hope that I could learn to relate to all the less motivated people around me. It did not work.
Anyway, I have a point I am trying to make here.
For adults, I can be an extremely difficult and frustrating teacher to work with. It is difficult for me to respect an adult unless they have achieved something of note or have some fascinating quality. It’s not that I don’t try, I do, but I’m just not good at. I am blunt and direct. I blast open the doors of perception, which most people find uncomfortable. Are you ready to see yourself? Given my extreme personality, it is a miracle that I have had so many extraordinary students.
Below I have mixed together things my students had already done when I met them with things they went on to do.
My students include:
Countless professional visual artists, dancers, designers, acrobats, musicians
Former president of the Asian Bodywork Association of America, and countless talented bodyworkers
The SF Bay Area’s top teacher of physical comedy, and head instructor of clowning at the SF Circus Center
The head night nurse at SF General Hospital (that’s a crazy place)-and many other nurses
A Climber who was good enough to lead 5-13’s—many athletes and adventurers
At least 40 men and women who started and ran tough, smart, enthusiastic, successful businesses
The inventor of the Credit Card
The founder of the first erotica classes, and SF Sex Information Hotline
A world expert in cold water swimming, before Vim Hoff
A teacher of the first women’s self-defense courses in SF
The whistle blower for the largest and most successful labor equality civil rights class action lawsuit in US History
The head of the Theater Department of a major University
The inventor of the now worldwide Mindfulness in the Schools Movement
A Symphony Conductor
A renowned translator of Sanskrit and other ancient languages
Tons of experienced martial artists
The woman who wrote the first book on Acupuncture for small animals
100s of acupuncturists
Numerous religious leaders and missionaries
Numerous scholars of Chinese culture, literature, and religion
Some extraordinary yogis and contortionists
An all female Fire Fighter's group
Can you see yourself on this list? If you have been training all day, everyday, for four years and you want to kick it up a notch, come study with me. For sure I do better with experienced martial artists who want to go to the next level, but if you are a beginner and have accomplished something cool, something challenging or mind expanding in another realm, there is a good chance we will have a deep connection. I’m the best at what I do.