First of all, allow me to introduce you to Marje. She is my inner chimp. She tends to become dominant when I have had too much coffee, not enough sleep, have a situation that I feel is out of control or when my kids refuse to do as I ask for the 9th time. She drives me mad. She isn’t wanted a lot of the time, and yet without Marje, I fear I would have little passion and energy when all else fails me.
Are you aware that you too have an inner chimp?
I came across the concept of the inner chimp having read the globally renowned, groundbreaking mind management book, “The Chimp Paradox: The mind management programme for confidence, success and happiness” by Prof Steve Peters. I was recommended reading it by the head teacher at my girls’ primary school and it was in relation to the burgeoning feistiness my daughters were starting to develop through their junior years. So I spent a week reading this book and without sounding dramatic…
It totally changed my life from that moment onwards
The book is all about learning to understand and manage your emotions and thoughts, so you can be the person you’d really like to be and remove anxiety. I actually read it whilst on holiday and I made loads of scrawlings in the book (I know, really bad behaviour but it was Marje’s fault, not mine, honest…) I called out to my husband really interesting anecdotes or tips and before we knew what we were doing, we sat reading it together realising this was a eureka moment as a family. No more losing our cool when the kids start to bicker, and anyone with kids will know that this is a daily occurrence and usually when you are desperate to get out of the house/finish an email/return an urgent call etc. We took some great lessons from the book as a family and in fact, the most poignant was an exercise which asks you to imagine you are 100 yrs old on your death bed and your great great nephew asks you what he should do with life. We wrote down various insightful wisdoms and from that list, we devised our family mottos of “Be Charitable” and “Be Kind”.
Manage your chimp at home and work
Even 2 years later, if my daughters (who are 11 and 9) start to lose their tempers, you often overhear the other one saying, “manage your chimp!”…. it is contagious once people can see the benefits. Within a work context, “The Chimp Paradox” has been invaluable. The ‘Dear John’ texts or emails from rare candidates who fail to be brave enough to pick up the phone to withdraw from a process and prior to this mindset, I would have gone off my rocker (abstractedly as I have never shouted at a customer ever). whereas now I take a very calm approach. Marje may doodle something nasty on my page but genuinely other than a frown, I react very calmly and pragmatically now.
Cool, calm & collected
Following a satnav to a client meeting that sends me around the bend literally when you are already running late for a new client: now Marje stays firmly in her box and I simply take the view that by calling ahead to my client to explain I may be a few minutes late, I no longer get stressed out by these marginal events that otherwise can cumulate into a really horrid feeling. Managing junior people is something I no longer do (my choice and I am happy for it!) but those I have shared the “managing your inner chimp” mindset with, who have management responsibility, have taken my advice and read the book greedily, realising the potential of how this mindset allows them to take a much calmer approach to the unpredictable and varied issues that they may have to deal with on a regular basis.
Back in the box
I refer earlier to the fact that Marje is still needed. Of course she is, very much so. The expression “flight or fight” refers to us relying totally on our inner chimps when we face danger. But I am happy to say that Marje has a box in which I put her most of the time. Within the parody, I visualise this as a box of safety for her- it is not a punishment; it is where she feels safe and comfortable until I need her. I am not a psychologist (although I would love to explore a degree in the future as the subject fascinates me and I think with 18 yrs in recruitment I could utilise a lot of experience gained to illustrate how people think, certainly in a work context) however I recently did a very unscientific post on LinkedIn asking people which management book they would recommend to others (predominantly recruitment professionals) and although a few others were mentioned casually, the unanimous winner was “The Chimp Paradox” with some, like myself, commenting that it had also changed their lives.
Read for yourself
Last October, I held a private party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Qui Recruitment and during my ‘Thank you’ address to the guests (who were all hiring decision makers and business owners), I talked about this book and how it had to be the ‘eureka’ moment for me; the nemesis of those seeking a different way to think and work. I am not perfect and Marje still has certain moments which are unpredictable (she is the moody me) but I hope those who have read the book agree with my synopsis and those who have not yet read “The Chimp Paradox” will do so. Thank you for reading this blog and as ever, I look forward to reading your comments and genuinely appreciate the shares.