After reading “The Chimp Paradox” by the famous sports psychologist Professor Steve Peters, I was determined to make friends with my “inner Chimp.”
Maybe I should explain what I mean….
Peters splits the human mind into three teams. The “Human” part concentrates on logical thinking and works with facts and truth. The “Chimp” part focuses on feelings and impressions. The human and the chimp are both individual thinking mechanisms and can equally work alone or in tandem. Often, however, the Chimp has a tendency to do his own thing. The third team is the “Computer”, which is used for storing thoughts and behaviours.
So, in this model, everyone has an inner Chimp. The interesting thing is that our inner Chimps are unique, and react in different ways to different situations. Emotions are far from predictable, and the Chimp plays a big part in our responses to emotional stimuli. You are not responsible for the nature of your Chimp, but you are responsible for managing it.
For example, my inner Chimp might run away from something difficult. Alternatively, it might get scared of failure. If it “feels” strongly enough about these things, this might limit what I “feel” that I can achieve, and I might settle for second best.
I nearly didn’t start Zander Associates 6 years ago. My Chimp was cowered in a corner, eyes wide with fear at the jump into the unknown from my hitherto successful corporate recruiting career. I wouldn’t have made the leap if it weren’t for my wife. She told me to get on with it and stop worrying. She slapped the Chimp and brought him to his senses. Fear wasn’t going to achieve anything.
Personally, I don’t allow my Chimp to get slapped too often. I’d like to think that we have a good relationship. He understands my healthy and positive attitude towards life; he understands that looking forwards is always better than looking backwards, and generally we get on well. If the Chimp is slapped too much, he won’t come out to play very often. If he is embraced on a regular basis, he will be far more open to adventures.
Being friends with your Chimp is like raising a small child. Your Chimp needs to understand that it is not ok to throw its spoon on the floor when it doesn’t like its food. It needs to understand the firm boundaries. When you say “no”, there should be no tantrums. It should also be given free rein to be creative, surprising and wonderful. If you are in tune with it, its insights will make you think in a totally different way. People marvel at the wisdom of an innocent child. The same can be said of an inner Chimp that is at peace with himself.
Maybe I have confused you with all this talk of Chimps? Maybe, maybe not, but remember this:
You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t tell yourself you are not good enough, not experienced enough or not ready yet. You are. You can achieve amazing things. You just have to believe.
Correction, you and your Chimp have to believe….
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury