The chimp paradox…can you ride tandem?

One of the books on my reading list after the ECB CA Conference 2013 was Dr Steve Peters‘ “The Chimp Paradox“.

This came with ringing endorsements from exceptional athletes – Dr Peters is cited as “…the most important person in my career…” by one multiple-Gold medal winner – and I can see why.

Sometimes, an athlete can be his or her own worst enemy.  What start as little doubts or upsets can easily develop into major issues.  Dr Peters identifies the “inner chimp” as the source of (some of) the problems, and describes techniques for managing the chimp’s behaviour.

And yet…if that chimp really is five times stronger than “me”, and five times quicker, surely it would be better to co-opt him to pedal the bike? Rather than exercising and boxing our chimps, perhaps we could try working together?

Can you ride tandem?

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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  1. It’s interesting that “Self Help” books seem to stir up similar emotions to religious texts. The believers can see no fault and react in horror at anyone who dare criticise what the see as “The Truth”.And let’s be honest, if the five star reviewers here think the book will give them the answer that will change their life forever who am I to question that? I have no wish to become the Richard Dawkins of self help books.For me however, I found the tome a little patronising and meandering. Peters takes several ideas from Dan Goleman and reproduces them in a more accessible format. Fair play to him, I found Goleman’s book a bit of a slog. SO instead of an “Emotional Hijack” we have the chimp taking control. Still, I suppose Freud got there before Peters or Goleman.The ‘solar system’ concept behind the book is somewhat bewildering – a metaphor too far for me. Perhaps Peters didn’t want to use a Mind Map and give Tony Buzan more publicity.I have a broad collection of the “For Dummies” books beside me as I type, so I am not being derogatory when I say this would have made a good addition to that range. But when I am invited to “give your chimp a name” I can’t help but feel a little patronised.There is some useful stuff in here and if it has truly changed people’s lives for the better then good luck to them, although I think people need more than a month or two after publciation to decide if that really is the case.I will be reading it again – and perhaps making notes next time.

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