Your Inner Chimp

Phil Hendry02/12/2020

Your inner chimp can derail your personal and business growth planning. So here’s how to manage it.

Often when speaking about business growth, or planning for your own and your family’s future, mindset is a great place to start.  There are a few different aspects to this, but one is understanding how your own mind works.

In his book ‘The Chimp Paradox’, Dr Steve Peters explains that the brain is essentially broken down into three elements:

The Human

The logical part which carefully considers facts and thinks methodically

The Computer

This is your ‘automatic thought process‘. Experience and repetition have taught you how to approach certain tasks. Tying your laces. Driving your car to the supermarket.  I doubt any of us even consciously think through whether we single or double knot our laces. The route you take to the shops or let alone how you drive the car…it just happens!

The Chimp

This part of the brain is our most primal and generates the least logical thinking, because it is essentially in survival mode all of the time.


The Chimp? What’s that?

The Chimp can be a destructive force, so the key is to try and manage it, because unfortunately you cant just switch it off!  We will all have noticed the chimp coming out when running your business.
Have you ever held off making that strategic move out of fear it will fail miserably? (even though this could be unlikely?)
Over reacted to a small mistake an employee has made?
Doubted your own abilities?
Blame it on your inner chimp!

Maybe you’re planning your family finances and hastily pulled everything out of the shares you bought when stock markets have been turbulent (that’s a bad idea by the way), bought that expensive shiny new car even though you probably knew you would get bored of it quickly, or put off planning ahead at all because you are scared of what you might learn…hello chimp!

What can you do about your inner chimp?  Actually being aware of it is a great start, because you will realise that the negative and emotive thoughts your chimp throws out aren’t necessarily what you actually think, just your brain generating irrational (most of time!) warning signals.  What you can do is manage it, and here are three ways Dr Peter’s suggests you do that:

Let your chimp speak

The first way to manage your chimp is to let it vent. Let it voice every possible fear about a situation, until it runs out of steam. Dr Peter cites the boxing analogy, where you let your chimp throw lots of punches until it’s tired.

This might be running through how bad an idea it is to open up a new location for your business, or how much of a flop your new product or service will be.

Or that by investing you will lose all of your money, and become homeless.

Hit your chimp with the facts

Once your chimp is tired, your human brain can step in and run through the facts to address these concerns.

You may have already expanded into a new location and product lines, or seen a competitor do so, and seen great success…so why all of a sudden with similar conditions and a wealth of experience will the opposite happen…the point is that armed with all the facts it is far less likely than the chimp is telling you.

You may also have friends and family who have planned well for their families, invested along the way, and assuming they have been logical and sought informed guidance, had great success planning for the future.  This may also be the majority of people who you have spoken to about this.  Its therefore reasonable to logically counter the chimp with facts and experiences to reassure it.

Distract the chimp

The last suggestion Dr Peters has is to distract the chimp, which probably has the least relevance if you take your time to plan properly.

But a good example of this may be that you are creating further awareness for your business by speaking at an event…but this terrifies the chimp.  So running up to this, spend your time preparing properly to distract the chimp, and when up there, as the old cliché on public speaking goes, pretend the audience are all naked to distract the chimp!

It’s not easy, but as I say, being aware of the chimp is a brilliant start.  It’s important to remember how key mindset is.  We are all ultimately an accumulation of the thoughts that whiz round in our heads, and if you let the chimp have too much time to speak without being challenged, you start to internalise and believe everything it says!
Be aware of it, manage it, and be positive on what is possible going forward.