Career Skills Reviews

Book Review: The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

Dr Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox is one of the best personal development books on the market

The Fortune Book Club Book Review: The Chimp Paradox


Title: The Chimp Paradox
Author: Dr Steve Peters
Publisher: Vermilion
Publication date: 5 Jan. 2012
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 009193558X
Rating: 5/5


Dr Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox is a powerful guide to understanding your inner brain and teaches readers how to distinguish thinking between the chimp (intrinsic drives) and the human (logical thinking). By being aware of the chimp and it’s behaviours, you’ll be much more capable of controlling unwanted and self-destructive thoughts and actions. This will ultimately allow you to be your best self, the person you truly want to be – the human.


Originally released at the start of 2012, it’s taken me eight years to get round to reading The Chimp Paradox and I wish I had gotten to it sooner. I honestly feel that if I had read the book before going to university (2013) I would have come out with better grades, more confidence and a more positive mindset. To say the book is eye-opening is an understatement.

The book is advertised as The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness and it’s easy to see why – the book covers everything you could possibly want from a self-help book. So it comes as no surprise that it is the best selling Audible business book.

The sections covered are:

Having no purpose is soul-destroying to a human.

  • Self-fulfilment
  • Self and emotions
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Environment and stress control
  • Maintenance and well-being
  • Success, empowerment and encouragement
  • Happiness, confidence and security

Each section is represented as a group of chapters and you can either pick and choose the parts relevant to what you need in the here-and-now, or read from start to finish. This makes the book both an interesting read and a great reference companion. For example, ahead of an important conversation i.e. an appraisal, you may want to re-read the Communication section to ensure that you’re best prepared*.

That said, the metaphor that the brain and its psychology is a universe made up of planets and moons is a bit strange, but I guess it’s solid enough to get the book’s point across that all aspects covered by the book contribute to your overall mentality.

However, the most powerful influence the book has, is its distinction between the thinking of the chimp and the human in each of these scenarios. Being able to recognise when you’re thinking intrinsically thanks to the chimp and when you’re thinking logically thanks to the human is the key to lifelong happiness and success, as it allows you to control your thinking and switch between the two.

When you decide to do something, remind yourself it’s commitment not motivation that matters.

The knowledge and teachings of the book is so obvious once it’s been explained that you can immediately begin to see chimp-like behaviour in yourself and others. For example, recognising that you’re procrastinating because you “don’t feel like doing something” (the chimp) when you know “you should be doing something” (the human) allows you to correct your mentality and start being more productive.

To top it off, all of the book’s teachings are well supported by practical real-life examples and diagrams. This helps you to recognise the differences in behaviour in yourself and others, meaning you can be: more confident, more assertive, more successful, more tactile, more dedicated, more personable and a whole host of other things!

To conclude, The Chimp Paradox covers everything that’s important in life and I can’t recommend this book enough. Its context is wide-reaching and bound to be useful for both those who are already fans of the personal development genre and those who have never read a personal development book before in their life. Moreover, the concepts are well explained and easy to grasp meaning anyone can start putting the practices into action regardless if you’re still at school or approaching retirement. If you want to take control of your life, feel more confident and start seeing improvements both personally and in your career, then read this book. 5/5

* Chris Voss’ Never Split The Difference is also a good choice in this situation.

Take Action

The Chimp Paradox is literally a step-by-step guide on how to improve your life by taking control of your mentality, so I can’t list every key point here. Instead, I’ll list a few that resonated with me the most.

  • There are always unpleasant or difficult things that you have to do in life. Having a method of coping with these situations is the best way to avoid stress.
  • If you measure confidence by doing your best, you’ll always be confident.
  • Rather than worrying about ‘what ifs’, train your mind to think ‘Ill cross that bridge when I come to it’.
  • Try not to see battles in all you do, but see them as lifestyles instead. It’s a battle to try and eat less, but it’s a lifestyle to see smaller portions as normal.
  • Keep a ‘happiness list’ of sure fire ways to boost your mood and refer to it when you need a pick-me-up.
  • The truths of life are:
    • Life is not fair.
    • The goal posts move.
    • There are no guarantees.

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By Jake Doran

Masters in Advanced Computer Science student at Keele University, interested in all things tech and business, with aspirations to undertake an MBA in the future.

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