Are You a Chimp? I was the other day…

chimpSo I’m cycling down Stamford Road in Bowden at 18mph when this ass in a small black car (SBC) goes past me too fast (at least 45mph), too close (I reckon 6 inches from my outside handlebar end) all whilst talking on a mobile.

I tell you, if I was armed…

I know what’s going to happen next but the driver has the anticipation of a duck. I can see the parked car ahead on my side and the moving car on the other side coming towards us up the hill.  

So the inevitable happens.

The driver cuts in in front of me and slams on the brakes. I just, just, manage to stop before hitting the SBC.

The approaching car passes, the SBC continues as do I.

Two hundred yards ahead…

…the SBC gets stopped at the lights at the bottom of the hill where Stamford Road meets Ashley Road in Hale.

I tell you, if I was armed…

I am not armed but I let my chimp out. Yes, I let him out.

I stop on the inside of SBC by the kerb and I bang on the passenger-side window (there is no passanger or I wouldn’t have done this). I am letting my chimp out. Not my gorilla. You don’t want to see my gorilla.  

I invite the driver…

…to describe to me what the driver thought the driver was doing.

The driver does the usual, depressingly predictable righteous indignation thing that is standard behaviour for the terminally feckless when they are pulled up for doing something they themselves know is wrong but have become accustomed to viewing as all right because they are so seldom chastised for it.


The driver tells me to f*** off and if I don’t the driver will call the police.

I say “do it, you twit” or something more, ah, pointed, “and the police can have a wee look at your call log you phone user you…”

I do some more chimp puffy chest stuff before I smile at my fellow chimp benevolently as the SBC-driving chimp knows not what the chimp does and I freewheel the ten yards to the stop sign with the red light at the bottom of the hill.

I am only slightly concerned by the slight chance that the other chimp will run me over when the lights go to green.

I am so glad I am not armed…

The notion of the chimp in us all comes from Dr Steve Peters’ book “The Chimp Paradox” of which our favourite Olympic gold medal winning cycle guy Sir Chris Hoy has said “Without Steve, I don’t think I would have won gold in Athens in 2004.”

There’s nothing new in the book to be honest but the presentation of the information is great – easy to understand and digestible.

Steve says we have, inside our heads, a chimp and a human.

I know this to be true.

When stuff happens, the human in us deals with facts and truth. Then the human applies some logical thinking and comes up with our plans and actions.

The chimp in us deals with the stuff that happens with emotions and impressions. Then we apply some emotional thinking before coming up with our plans and actions.

As you can imagine, the human and the chimp come up with very different plans and actions, leading to very different results.

I let my chimp out…

…when the SBC with the numbskull driver appeared. And I knew it. It was fear and danger and aggression that conjured up the chimp.

But I allowed it to happen. In retrospect I was the human taking my chimp for a walk, rather than the chimp having escaped to run wild unsupervised.

And this is key.

We all have the chimp and the human.

But the human is younger. The chimp is ancient.

Not ancient as in infirm, benign, harmless. No. Ancient as in you have known your chimp for so long you are not aware when she starts doing the talking.

I do not disrespect the chimp.

The fact is that the chimp has got us this far. And my God how far we have come. From primordial soup to quantum electrodynamics in, oh, a blink of an eye really. Yes, the chimp has done well.

But the chimp is playing a different game. The chimp is all about survival – living in the jungle. And the thing is we don’t live in the jungle any more.

So a lot of our chimp behaviour is simply not appropriate for where we are now. Yet it is our most natural and longest lived behavioural type.

And what was great, no essential, yesterday does not necessarily have any utility today…

Frankly, the occasional bad tempered exchange with an unaware fellow citizen is OK. Maybe the driver will learn

Where chimpy behaviour is not OK is where we use it for the big stuff – the big relationships, the big projects. The big opportunities. The fundamental approach we take to life.

The human in us…

…deals with facts and truth, overlaid with logical thinking.

The chimp in us…

…deals with emotions and impressions, overlaid with emotional thinking.

The former works today, in 2013. The latter worked yesterday, in 20,000 BC.

We all need to decide in what time we’re living.

20,000 BC is easier, emotionally.  But 2013 is where all the opportunities are.

2 Responses to Are You a Chimp? I was the other day…

  1. Keith Plumb June 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I can relate to this. The guy in the SBC would get my chimp going to, but your conclusions are correct.

    If my chimp is getting the upper hand I go for a walk outside so that I have got him back under control by the time I get back and avoid being overly offensive. althoug times when I feel like giving it go like the chimp in 2001.

    • Mark Nugent June 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      Hi Keith, know what you mean.

      I find that my awareness of the chimp helps me control him, but the fact that I now work for myself and therefore do not have to “behave” or “impress” to such an extent, means I sometimes just don’t control him. I guess this is what they mean by becoming “unemployable.” Hooray!

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