On Friday, I went to listen to Prof. Steve Peters, author of The Chimp Paradox, giving a talk at a local town hall. An intuitive friend had offered me a couple of tickets and I asked my sister to come with me. I was lent Prof. Peters’ book a few years ago by another friend and wrote a review of it at the time. If I recall correctly, although impressed with much of what he had to say, I was slightly confused by the number of planets and moons in the book, and I said so. However, Friday’s talk made no mention of these – perhaps they serve to illustrate more in-depth topics, which there was no time to go into!
I was expecting a talk on managing one’s behaviour to be dry, admonitory and to ask me not to place too much trust in my intuition – like so many books on psychology that I have read. Not so – it was laugh-out-loud funny, insightful, engaging and pointed out very convincingly that we are all in charge of our own destiny, and that intuition is a useful tool that will serve us well in our dealings with others. But firstly, there are a couple of simple steps to help get from where we are to where we want to be:
Know what we want
An example might be a better leadership style. Or to succeed at a skill. Attitude to wanting to achieve your goals is critical. You may know what you’re doing (process) but it is your mindset that governs whether you will succeed at it (person). So before you can make improvements, set your objectives.
The basic idea behind the chimp management model is (very simply) that the limbic brain (known as the chimp) can sometimes hijack the rational ‘human’ inside every one of us. The human is stable, resourceful, sensible and pragmatic. The chimp is irrational, emotional, impulsive and jumps to conclusions. Anything from a stinging comment from a relative to being overtaken on a blind bend can get it going. And it is far stronger than our human.
Find out how to get there
Put simply, for the purposes of this article, self-control and awareness. We can begin by:
- Managing own emotions. (Understanding ourselves. Responding, not reacting to others.)
- Managing others’ emotions. (This does not mean manipulating people, which Steve Peters made clear was a psychopathic trait. Communicate effectively and understand others’ emotions and goals.)
- The right environment! Everyone blossoms in the right environment. And if the environment can’t be changed, it can be left.
Something to remember
The chimp isn’t all bad. It gives us 2 spontaneous things that the human cannot; laughter and love.
Good luck – and if you get the chance to go to a talk by Prof. Peters, jump at it. He is funny, direct and very inspiring.