We were at the School of Life in London this week, listening to Dr Steve Peters talk about his book, The Chimp Paradox. If you’ve read this brilliant book, you’ll know all about his fascinating, life changing theories. If you haven’t read it yet, get yourself a copy and prepare to have the way you think about your life completely changed.
In a nutshell - and there really is a lot more to it then we’d ever be able to explain here - it’s about how within each of us lives a chimp, and our chimp is often the reason we behave the way we do. And when we say behave, we mean behave badly. Our chimp wants an easy life and will do everything in its considerable power to achieve this.
For example, chimps are not particularly fond of 6am cycle rides on Sundays, especially when it’s raining and freezing cold outside. They’d rather stay in their warm comfy bed, and they will try their best to convince you to do the same. Your chimp will say you need the rest, it’s too cold outside, too dangerous to cycle in those conditions, best if we just train twice as hard next time instead. Before you know it, it’s 9am and you’re sat on the sofa, Sunday Brunch on the box, with a brew and a bacon sandwich in hand. The chimp can deal with that. He’s happy now, so he’ll settle down. That is until something else comes up that isn’t to his liking.
We first heard about Steve Peters because he applied his Chimp Paradox theory to some of the world’s elite sportspeople, in particular the British Cycling team at the London 2012 Olympics. During his talk he mentioned that Sir Chris Hoy’s chimp was actually quite the gentleman. Vicky Pendletons chimp however, well that was a very naughty chimp – which Pendleton had identified herself. Her first question to Steve was ‘how do I murder my chimp?’ The answer? Unfortunately, you can’t. You can’t even fight your chimp, your chimp will always win. It’s a chimp! They are far too strong. You can only train and manage your chimp. And that is no mean feat. But if you can get to grips with your chimp the rewards are huge. Hoy, Pendleton, and Sir Bradley Wiggins (another of his clients) all put a lot of their success down to Steve Peters and his Chimp Paradox. Furthermore, Sir Dave Brailsford, arguably one of Great Britain’s best ever cycling coaches, describes Peters as ‘the best appointment I’ve ever made.’
Of course getting out on the bike, training in the gym, and beasting the turbo trainer at home are all necessary in order to improve as a cyclist, but if you want to take your cycling (and your life in general) to the next level, then it’s time to start training your mind - and your chimp- too.
The below is a video of Peters briefly explaining his theory to a room of students, which will give you a much better insight into the Chimp Paradox...