Manage Your Chimp!

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At the moment I’m reading The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters. I’m not a big fan of self-help books usually but I knew that Dr. Peters has had success helping athletes achieve their goals. He created a model for teaching people to understand how the mind works in practice in order to maximise sports performance but the model focuses on everyday personal mind management not just sports performance so I thought it might even help hopeless cases like me.

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Peters separates human mental function into the rational side of the brain, the more emotional ‘chimp’ side which needs to be managed to achieve high performance, and the computer which governs automatic behaviour and memory. I have only read about half of the book so far, so it’s unfair to judge but my initial feeling is that it’s a very useful, practical, clear and accessible guide to managing your own mind. I don’t really see much that’s new but maybe that will come in the second half of the book. Also, the book sometimes does that annoying thing that a lot of self-help books do where it spends ages describing the situation (telling you what you already know) and much less time describing what you can do about it.

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But Dr. Peters hasn’t just wandered in off the street.  In 2001 a former student at Sheffield recommended Peters to the British Cycling team and he moved to full-time work with the team in 2005.Olympic cyclists he helped include Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. Peters worked very successfully with Ronnie O’Sullivan, helping him win his 4th and 5th World Snooker titles in 2012 and 2013 respectively. After the 2012 Olympics Peters was appointed by UK Athletics to work with the country’s high performance athletes. From November 2012 Peters worked with Liverpool F.C. and in March of this year he was recruited to help the England National Football Team (God help him). So I’m thinking he must have something valuable here, even if it isn’t anything all that new or radical.

I’ll read the rest of the book and let you know. That’s if I’m not too busy getting a gold medal in the next Olympics.

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