The Chimp Paradox


This is not actually a humourous title from the Old Munki, nor is it a reference to a relative.  It is actually the title of a book by Dr Steve Peters.  The book really intrigued me as the Chimp Principle is used by a number of very high profile athletes, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton to name a couple.  The psychological support has been adopted by British Cycling, GB Weightlifting and UK Athletics for their athletes.

A brief explanation of the principles are that we essentially have three basic “parts” to our brain.  The Chimp, the Human and the Computer.  The Chimp reacts quicker than the Human part and shouts down the logical Human part.  So when you want to go training and your Chimp Brain starts to convince you that, “it’s too cold, you’re too tired or you really do need to stay at work”.  Your Human Brain does not get a chance and you end up missing out.  Where as if you follow the processes in the book, your Human will get a chance to convince the Chimp that despite the cold, you get so many positives from training.  “Enjoyment, meeting friends, learning something new, a sense of achievement etc”.  Enabling you not to miss out on training and allowing you to stay motivated.

This is just one very small part of the book poorly explained by me. I do have to say though that the book goes into much greater detail and explanation about the issues and the benefits the Chimp part of the brain provides.  Along with how to handle them and let your Human part of the brain exercise and box the Chimp so it can get a word in. One of the key points from the book states,”Managing your impulsive, emotional Chimp as an adult will be one of the biggest factors determining how successful you are in life” Page 41 The Chimp Paradox. After reading the book I can see why this is definitely a powerful statement.

There are many other aspects to the book that cover lots of things like your general health, happiness, relationships etc.  One thing I would say is this is not a quirky self help book.  It is a book that has some significant psychological principles that have been given easily applicable ways of putting them into practice.  Looking at the Olympians who have used these principles, it would suggest that they have a very positive impact on performance and as I always say as an Old Munki every little helps.

P.S. Having already put some of the principles into use over the past week, I can definitely see where the Chimp and the Human are in conflict in my own day to day life.  The Chimp has cropped up with my diet and bits of my recovery. I did not recognise it straight away but, when I have looked back on the day I have seen where I have not been managing my Chimp and it has been detrimental to me.  It looks like managing my Chimp is going to have some definite positives.

The Chimp Paradox – The Mind Management Programme on Amazon

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