February 26


Enhance Success by Controlling Your Inner Chimp

By Ralph Varcoe

February 26, 2019

How to enhance success - The groundbreaking mind model to help you achieve your goals

Do you ever get email remorse? When you reacted to something someone said to you, wrote a reply in anger or irritation, and pressed send, only to have the sharpest feeling of 'OMG - I can't believe I actually sent that' envelop your whole being?

Have you been in a work situation where someone claimed your work as their own, or made you feel inadequate? Did you want to come right back at them? Did you feel an inner, burning desire to thump them? Did you react?


If you have ever had a challenge with your internal voice, telling you something won't work, questioning why you are doing a task, or telling you not to do an activity because it's dangerous, then let me introduce you to your inner chimp.

I was lucky enough to spend time at a conference recently where Dr Steve Peters was the final keynote speaker of the day. I was very excited because I read his book 'The Chimp Paradox' earlier in the year. In person, he delivered a 40 minute, highly entertaining, funny and very thought provoking speech, outlining his model of how the brain works, and how we each need to recognise, nurture and control our inner chimp.

Dr Steve Peters is a consultant psychiatrist who has been credited by many of this country's greatest sports stars as being the secret ingredient to their success. Victoria Pendleton, British Olympic Cycling Gold medalist, has said "Steve Peters is the most important person in my career". Sir Chris Hoy has said "The mind programme that helped me win my Olympic Golds".

'The Chimp Paradox' is a groundbreaking mind model, which is set out in a very easy to understand format. It is broken down into 3 key areas:

  1. Your Inner Mind Explored
  2. Day-to-day Functioning
  3. Your Health, Success, and Happiness


Your Inner Mind Explored

In the first section, Dr Peters simplifies the anatomy of the brain for us all. What is a phenomenally complicated organ surrounded in mystery for the majority of people, is explained as being a set of seven independent brains that grow and fuse together to create what we all think of as THE brain. The biggest challenge is that these separate brains think independently and don't always agree. He simplifies further by introducing us to the three most important parts of the psychological brain:

  1. The Frontal (Human)
  2. The Limbic (Chimp)
  3. Parietal (Computer)

 Basically, the Chimp is the oldest part of your brain and is conditioned to think about survival. The human brain is a rational and logical, thinking brain. The Computer is where data is stored - data that can be input by either the Chimp or the Human.

When we lived in the jungle, the Chimp was very useful, as it kept us safe. Now that we are no longer in the jungle (at least not in a jungle with trees and wild animals) it is less useful, and can be quite destructive if not managed correctly.

The Chimp assumes it is being attacked or under threat, and responds appropriately (for a Chimp). The Human thinks things through and applies logic, and has the ability to see things from a number of different perspectives. The Human can think about consequences, whereas the Chimp will likely act first and deal with consequences later.

Because the Chimp is very strong, and is the oldest brain, it can over power the Human, and cause it to act against its better judgement - hence the email remorse, and other regrets we have all experienced after an argument or other stressful situation in which we have spoken or acted before thinking.

As we grow up, we are storing memories and behaviours in our Computer, and because the Chimp brain is so powerful, it can easily put gremlins in our Computer which don't serve us very well, can be very illogical, and can be debilitating. Of course, there are examples we can all think of when the reactions of a Chimp are right for us, and storing these in the Computer is a good thing. For example, if someone pulled a knife on you, you'll be thankful that your Chimps survival instinct kicks in and causes you to run away, and puts into the Computer a pattern that tries to ensure you avoid that type of situation again.

On the whole though, the Chimp is responsible for inputting many gremlins into your Computer that are very hard to change. But, with an understanding of how your mind functions, and with Dr Peters' mind management programme, you can start to change the way you think and react.

Steve Peters does something clever in the model - he states that the Human brain is YOU, but that the Chimp brain is just a Chimp. By dissociating yourself from your Chimp, it makes it far easier to look at your reactions, and behaviours objectively. De-personalising traits and characteristics that you would rather not have enables you to identify with your logical, thinking self, and see the Chimp as a badly behaved teenager.

This does not absolve anyone from the responsibility or consequences of their Chimp's actions, just as the owner of a dog which bites a child is responsible for the dog's behaviour. However, the dog owner is not the dog, and can look at the dog's behaviour objectively. So it is with identifying your Chimp as being separate to YOU.

The following sections of the book (Day-to-day Functioning, Your Health, Success and Happiness) provide a great insight into how to manage your Chimp, deal with gremlins and achieve greater success through understanding, acknowledgement, responsibility, management and control.

I give 'The Chimp Paradox' 10/10 and thoroughly recommend it to everyone who wants to accelerate their personal and business performance.

Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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