Jimmy Anderson: the traits of a champion

There is a beer on sale inside Edgbaston named after Jimmy Anderson. Marston’s King of Swing is a pale ale, with an image of England’s finest seamer in celebration mode featured prominently on its label. The noise coming from the Edgbaston crowd yesterday, suggested it was going down rather well, too.

The were celebrating undoubtedly one of the finest displays by an English bowler in an Ashes Test. Anderson’s figures of 6-47 were made all the more significant by his experience in the previous Test at Lords where he failed to take a wicket for the first time in 64 Tests.

Taking a wicket with his eighth delivery, at one stage he took three wickets for three runs in 11 balls, or four for seven runs in 19 balls. Take your pick. It was magnificent bowling from The Burnley Express.

It is Anderson’s birthday today, he is 33. England have a great bowler in Anderson, he is already England’s record wicket taker, but performances like this indicate he could maybe reach 500 wickets – he currently stands on 412. He is now two wickets short of joining the all-time top 10 in Test cricket.

Born in Burnley 30 July 1982, James Anderson was a pupil at St Theodore’s RC High School, and played cricket at Burnley Cricket Club from aged nine, before making his First XI debut at the age of 15. His first representative cricket came at the age of 17 for Lancashire Under 19s. Aged 18, he became a professional with Lancashire.

His career moved quickly, from Burnley Thirds to England in 18 months, making his England debut before his first full season of County cricket. A right-arm swing bowler, Anderson made his international debut at the age of just 20, and he is only the fourth English bowler to take 300 Test wickets. If he stays fit, he will have left every other English Test bowler for dust in terms of games, wickets and bowling statistics.

The art of swinging the ball either way to order is not a straightforward one and nor is there a single method of doing so. Actions vary, from open to closed, but all essentially involve a high arm. Anderson has his characteristic drop of the head. There are fundamentals that are common, of which flexible fingers and a loose wrist action without tension (liken it to playing with a yo-yo), helping to impart the backspin, almost gyroscopic, necessary to maintain the seam upright, are paramount.

Anderson’s technique is unique, in which he caresses the ball, and changes nothing but the pressure he exerts either with his middle finger or index finger. Unless he sends down his wobble-seam, the seam is ramrod straight upright for his away swing and slightly canted for his inswing, the result of hours of experiment and fine-tuning to get it precisely right.

Many people believe Anderson’s on‑field aggression is not a good example for youngsters but I like the fact he gets in the face of opponents and gets grumpy when he gets hit for four. You’ve got to have a presence about you as a champion. It has proved an enduring package, a banker bet for a succession of England captains who have all paid tribute along the way to the man most likely to get them a wicket when they need one most.

‘The Burnley Express’ – one of his nicknames – saw The Ashes of 2010/11 as a high-water mark, taking 24 wickets to become England’s second-highest wicket-taker on an Ashes tour Down Under, behind the legendary Frank Tyson. He has cited the ambition of topping 500 when questioned in recent times about his longevity.

He holds a number of impressive statistics:

  • Career-best figures of seven for 43 against New Zealand in 2008.
  • Secured a place on the famous Lord’s honours board on Test debut, taking 5-73 against Zimbabwe.
  • Taken five wickets in an innings on 17 occasions.
  • In his first 99 Tests, Anderson averages a wicket every 58.1 balls.
  • His stand of 198 with Joe Root against India at Trent Bridge in 2014 is the highest-ever 10th-wicket partnership in Test history.
  • Went 57 innings before registering his first duck, an England record

Who’d have thought that a bloke from Burnley would be setting his sights on 500 Test wickets? He’s shown commitment, hard work, strength of character and self-belief throughout his career. It is a pleasure to watch Anderson the craftsman. He is the 13th England player and only the second fast bowler after Botham to play 100 Tests. At 33, Anderson is probably coming to the end as an international bowler. Alas you can’t go on forever.

We applaud champions, knowing that we would never have been able to do what they’ve achieved, epitomising the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, FortiusFaster, Higher, Stronger. There is something deeply captivating about exceptional individual performance in sport. The fascination for extraordinary as we think of the champions who stand proud on the podium, with their medals and their nation’s anthem ringing in their ears, is about human dignity as well as human achievement. For me it’s about saluting the person.

James Anderson is a champion cricketer for sure. How can we summon up the true character of the champion ourselves, and take this into our business? Here are some of those characteristics. How many of these statements also describe you and your business life?

Success comes to those with passion to strive Striving is more than simply being competitive, it is an attitude that illustrates that the individual is as much competing with himself as with the challenge, or others in the same race. What sets Anderson apart from the rest is his relentless passion and uncompromising pursuit of extraordinary endeavour. Anderson mastered his mental game, which became his competitive edge, he persisted in spite of fatigue, tenacious in discovering his own style of beating the elements.

Authentic and inquisitive Champions are aware of their strengths and limitations, there are no pretentions to portray a perfect self-image free from any flaw or weakness. Such authenticity bolsters the courage in taking on lofty goals, but also in dealing with their true selves. They always seek the new frontier, pushing the boundaries, refusing to accept the status-quo. They begin every day hoping to learn something new, always searching for new insights, for original thinking, for something that makes them better.

Application, hard-work and discipline That is more than just the hours you put in, it is the discipline to set aside other things and concentrate hard on your own development. It is about focus and single mindedness. It is not just about deciding to work an extra hour, it’s about deep thinking, about getting down to the core of what you are trying to achieve. It is about knowing in your heart, when something is not good enough and can and should be better. Notice that this is self-discipline. Past a certain point, you and only you can provide that intensity of will.

Courage. No champion is without courage. It may be of mind or body. When things are in the balance, when you cannot be sure, when others are uncertain or hesitate, when the very point is that the outcome is in doubt that is when a champions’ mental toughness lets them step forward. The courage lies not in acting without fear, but in acting despite fear.

Optimism Anderson expresses an ability to reframe adversity as an opportunity for achievement. Champions consider adversity as indicative of the merit of the pursuit and thus welcome it. They reveal that beyond physical skill and training, there exists a champion mindset. They all have distinct cognitive and emotional make-up that allows them to relentlessly push themselves on their quest.

Live with failure You must also be prepared to fail. This is a tough quality to possess, but the strange irony of the champion is they must be able to live with failure as well as enjoy success. Virtually no one I have met who has succeeded has not failed first. The question is what you learn from the experience and about yourself, the strengths you exploit, the weaknesses you must eliminate.

Measure performance All athletes measure performance. Whatever the success criteria, they constantly evaluate where they are compared to where they expect to be, and whether they are on-track to achieve their goals or not. By evaluating performance they determine if they need to change their plans.

At the end of every competition, athletes debrief to understand performance and also set targets for next time. In business you need to measure so you can analyse how to be more effective, more productive, and more profitable in the future. What gets measured gets improved. It’s an attitude of constant improvement.

Train like a champion No matter how talented an athlete, they train to improve their skills and push peak levels of performance. Continuing to dream is part of this, they never stop striving for that next big result. Planning to compete at the highest level, and putting in a shift, high-performance athletes plan out their training schedules in advance to make sure they reach specific performance goals.

Don’t settle for ‘Good enough’, use pressure to improve your focus Most business folk lack the same level of mental discipline that successful athletes have in abundance. One of the risks for businesses is being tolerant of sub-optimal performance. When an athlete does badly, their performance is reviewed and analysed from all angles and they work out how to improve from there. In business, average performance is often tolerated. The choice is yours – average work, yields average results. Chose your attitude and get the right mindset.

Performance is everything – and then celebrate success When Usain Bolt crossed the finish line in the 200m Olympic final, he made one simple gesture. He didn’t point to the sky or raise his hands in the air, but held up his finger to his lips, making a gesture of silence. He’d reached a new pinnacle and his first reaction was to silence those who doubted him. Although Bolt could be seen as exuberantly full of himself, his achievement matched his level of confidence. Elite sportsmen make the time to celebrate their wins, it reminds them of their hard work and commitment.

Most businesses aren’t physically demanding by nature, usually it’s about our mental and emotional state of mind. Success comes from finding a way to tap into your inner strength, your core values, your passion and your attitude. It’s what you’ll need to put one foot in front of another, and to keep going.

Establishing a successful business is like a marathon, it’s not a sprint, and the habits and approaches above offer insights from successful sportsmen like James Anderson.

Do you have the capability? The capability to constantly get out there and make an effort, to work at what you want, to believe in yourself, to keep going when others have thrown in the towel. The capability to realise that you can achieve your dream, the capability to keep focussed.

Anderson undertook the challenge because he was willing to do what he needed to do, to get what he wanted. It’s not about medals of victory, it’s more about the scars of defeat. Champions believe in themselves when no one else does, it means going beyond your comfort zone and learning to win the game your own way. Remember, every champion was once a contender that refused to give up.

Maybe in this Ashes Test, the next one, or the one after that, Anderson will achieve another unbeatable ‘Personal Best’. It’s down to his perseverance – it’s the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. I’m sure the words of Dick Fosbury will resonate with him: When my body got tired, my mind said this where winners are made; when my mind got tired, my heart said this is where champions are made.

Be a champion – like ‘The Burnley Express’, James Anderson

At the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium In Antigua later today, England bowler James Anderson plays his 100th Test match, during which he should take the four wickets against West Indies he requires to overtake Ian Botham’s England record of 383 Test wickets. It will be a remarkable achievement for a lad from Burnley, and for someone who suffered serious injury and loss of form in the middle of his career.

Born 30 July 1982, James Anderson was a pupil at St Theodore’s RC High School, and played cricket at Burnley Cricket Club from aged nine, before making his First XI debut at the age of 15. His first representative cricket came at the age of 17 for Lancashire Under 19s. Aged 18, he became a professional with Lancashire.

His career moved quickly, from Burnley Thirds to England in 18 months, making his England debut before his first full season of County cricket. A right-arm swing bowler, Anderson made his international debut at the age of just 20, and he is only the fourth English bowler to take 300 Test wickets.

It is a tribute to Anderson’s fitness in the most physically demanding of all cricket disciplines. In the course of this he has sent down 22,114 snaking waspish deliveries, more than any other England bowler, pace or spin. By the end of the arduous stretch of 17 Test matches for England in the next nine months, if he stays fit, he will have left every other English Test bowler for dust in terms of games, wickets and bowling statistics.

Essentially Anderson is an English bowler for English conditions, as his record suggests, some 250 of his wickets have come at home, and 13 of his 16 five-wicket hauls. In England, he averages 26.38 runs per wicket, while abroad, where the pitches can be unforgiving, negating his stock-in-trade orthodox swing, it soars 10 points higher. Away from his more familiar conditions he takes a wicket only every 11 and a bit overs, while at home the figure goes down to just under nine overs. He bowls challenging spells abroad but tends to bring control, imposing pressure, rather than clutches of wickets.

The art of swinging the ball either way to order is not a straightforward one and nor is there a single method of doing so. Actions vary, from open to closed, but all essentially involve a high arm. Anderson has his characteristic drop of the head. There are fundamentals that are common, of which flexible fingers and a loose wrist action without tension (liken it to playing with a yo-yo), helping to impart the backspin, almost gyroscopic, necessary to maintain the seam upright, are paramount.

Anderson’s technique is unique, in which he caresses the ball, and changes nothing but the pressure he exerts either with his middle finger or index finger. Unless he sends down his wobble-seam, the seam is ramrod straight upright for his away swing and slightly canted for his inswing, the result of hours of experiment and fine-tuning to get it precisely right.

Many people believe Anderson’s on‑field aggression is not a good example for youngsters but I like the fact he gets in the face of opponents and gets grumpy when he gets hit for four. You’ve got to have a presence about you as a champion. It has proved an enduring package, a banker bet for a succession of England captains who have all paid tribute along the way to the man most likely to get them a wicket when they need one most.

‘The Burnley Express’ – one of his nicknames – saw The Ashes of 2010/11 as a high-water mark, taking 24 wickets to become England’s second-highest wicket-taker on an Ashes tour Down Under, behind the legendary Frank Tyson. He has cited the ambition of topping 400 when questioned in recent times about his longevity. At any rate, with a fair wind in the Caribbean, he is a certainty to replace Botham as statistically the best in English Test history and therefore enter the top 10 all-time list of the world’s most successful seamers.

He holds a number of impressive statistics:

  • Career-best figures of seven for 43 against New Zealand in 2008.
  • Secured a place on the famous Lord’s honours board on Test debut, taking 5-73 against Zimbabwe.
  • Taken five wickets in an innings on 16 occasions.
  • In his first 99 Tests, Anderson averages a wicket every 58.1 balls.
  • His most prolific series was India’s tour of England in 2014, taking 25 wickets at 20.60.
  • His stand of 198 with Joe Root against India at Trent Bridge in 2014 is the highest-ever 10th-wicket partnership in Test history.
  • Went 57 innings before registering his first duck, an England record

Who’d have thought that a bloke from Burnley would be setting his sights on 400 Test wickets? He’s shown commitment, hard work, strength of character and self-belief throughout his career. It is a pleasure to watch Anderson the craftsman. He is the fast bowler’s fast bowler, aggressive of demeanour, able to manipulate the ball at will, swings it both ways, obtains reverse swing, has a bouncer which can give the best a wake-up call and is unerringly accurate.

He is the 13th England player and only the second fast bowler after Botham to play 100 Tests. At nearly 33, Anderson is probably coming to the end as an international bowler. There have been occasions recently when he has not looked quite as probing, when the questions he asks of batsmen have not been quite as insistent. Alas you can’t go on forever.

We applaud champions, knowing that we would never have been able to do what they have, all attention on the champion Olympic athlete who epitomises the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, FortiusFaster, Higher, Stronger. There is something deeply captivating about exceptional performance in sport. The fascination for extraordinary performance as we think of the champions who stand proud on the podium, with their medals and their nation’s anthem ringing in their ears, is about human dignity as well as human achievement. For me it’s about saluting the person.

James Anderson is a champion cricketer for sure, constantly pursuing his ‘Personal Best’. How can we summon up the true character of the champion ourselves, and take this into our business? Here are some of those characteristics. How many of these statements also describe you and your business life?

1. Success comes to those with passion to strive Striving is more than simply being competitive, it is an attitude that illustrates that the individual is as much competing with himself as with the challenge, or others in the same race. What sets Anderson apart from the rest is his relentless passion and uncompromising pursuit of extraordinary endeavour. Anderson mastered his mental game, which became his competitive edge, he persisted in spite of fatigue, tenacious in discovering his own style of beating the elements.

2. Authentic and inquisitive Champions are aware of their strengths and limitations, there are no pretentions to portray a perfect self-image free from any flaw or weakness. Such manifestations of authenticity bolster the courage in taking on lofty goals, but also in dealing with their true selves as well. They always seek the new frontier, pushing the boundaries, refusing to accept the status-quo. They begin every day hoping to learn something new, always searching for new insights, for original thinking, for something that makes them better.

3. Application, hard-work and discipline That is more than just the hours you put in, it is the discipline to set aside other things and concentrate hard on your own development. It is about focus and single mindedness. It is not just about deciding to work an extra hour, it’s about deep thinking, about getting down to the core of what you are trying to achieve. It is about knowing in your heart, when something is not good enough and can and should be better. Notice that this is self-discipline. Past a certain point, you and only you can provide that intensity of will.

4. Courage. No champion is without courage. It may be of mind or body. When things are in the balance, when you cannot be sure, when others are uncertain or hesitate, when the very point is that the outcome is in doubt that is when a champions’ mental toughness lets them step forward. The courage lies not in acting without fear, but in acting despite fear.

5. Optimism Another common characteristic is champions’ optimism. Anderson expresses an ability to reframe adversity as an opportunity for achievement, to learn and grow and did not stop him from pursuit of his quest. Champions consider adversity as indicative of the merit of the pursuit for a real champion and thus welcome it. They reveal that beyond physical skill and training, there exists a champion mindset. They all have distinct cognitive and emotional make-up that allows them to relentlessly push themselves on their quest.

6. Live with failure What this means is that you must also be prepared to fail. This is a tough quality to possess, but the strange irony of the champion is they must be able to live with failure as well as enjoy success. The very act of stepping out into the unknown means you must accept that the risk, however calculated, may not pay off. Virtually no one I have met who has succeeded has not failed first. The question is what you learn from the experience and about yourself, the strengths you exploit, the weaknesses you must eliminate.

7. Measure performance All athletes measure performance whether it’s time, weight, height, distance. Whatever the success criteria, they constantly evaluate where they are compared to where they expect to be, and whether they are on-track to achieve their goals or not. By evaluating performance they can determine if they need to change their plans.

At the end of every competition, athletes debrief to both understand performance, but also set targets for next time. In business you need to measure so you can analyse how to be more effective, more productive, and more profitable in the future. What gets measured gets improved. It’s an attitude of constant improvement.

8. Train like a champion No matter how talented an athlete is, they train to perfect their skills and maintain peak levels of performance. Continuing to dream is part of this, they never stop striving for that next big performance. Planning to compete at the highest level, and putting in a shift, high-performance athletes plan out their training schedules in advance to make sure they reach specific performance goals.

9. Dont settle for Good enough, use pressure to improve your focus Most business folk lack the same level of mental discipline that successful athletes have in abundance. One of the risks for businesses is being tolerant of sub-optimal performance. When an athlete does badly, their performance is reviewed and analysed from all angles and they work out how to improve from there. In business, average performance is often tolerated. The choice is yours – average work, yields average results. Chose your attitude and get the right mindset.

10. Performance is everything – and then celebrate success When Usain Bolt crossed the finish line in the 200m Olympic final, he made one simple gesture. He didn’t point to the sky or raise his hands in the air, but heldup his finger to his lips, making a gesture of silence. He’d reached a new pinnacle and his first reaction was to silence those who thought he’d never make it. Although Bolt could be seen as cocky and full of himself, his actual performance matched his level of confidence. Elite sportsmen make the time to celebrate their victories, it helps to remind them of the hard work and commitment before.

Most businesses aren’t physically demanding by nature, usually it’s about our mental and emotional state of mind. Success comes from finding a way to tap into your inner strength, your core values, your passion and your attitude. It’s what you’ll need to put one foot in front of another, and to keep going.

Establishing a successful business is like a marathon, it’s not a sprint, and the habits and approaches above offer insights from successful sportsmen like James Anderson.

Do you have the capability? The capability to constantly get out there and make an effort, the capability to work at what you want, the capability to believe in yourself, the capability to keep going when others have thrown in the towel. The capability to realise that you can achieve your dream, the capability to keep focussed.

Anderson undertook the challenge because he was willing to do what he needed to do, to get what he wanted. It’s not about medals of victory, it’s more about the scars of defeat. Champions believe in themselves when no one else does, it means going beyond your comfort zone and learning to win the game your own way. Remember, every champion was once a contender that refused to give up.

Maybe today, tomorrow or the day after, Anderson will achieve an unbeatable ‘Personal Best’. It’s down to his perseverance – it’s the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. I’m sure the words of Dick Fosbury will resonate with him: When my body got tired, my mind said this where winners are made; when my mind got tired, my heart said this is where champions are made.

Inner-Vation© – lessons from Steve Peter’s ‘The Chimp Paradox’

The announcement that England plan to use the psychiatrist who helped British cyclists win Olympic gold as they continue their preparations for the World Cup last week brought Dr Steve Peters into the public domain once again. Already working with Liverpool FC players, Peters has an enviable track record of helping high-performing athletes maintain a positive mindset when competing under pressure at the highest level.

Regarded as a ‘mind-mechanic’, his most notable successes have been with Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton – Hoy says Without Steve I don’t think I could have brought home triple gold from Beijing, while Pendleton says he was the most important person in my career. Peters was a key factor in Britain’s extraordinary track cycling success at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics, has also worked with Tour de France winners Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

Peters is perhaps the most unlikely success story in British sports coaching. His background is in serious mental health – for 12 years he was based at Rampton high-security hospital, working with individuals suffering from severe personal disorders. He can’t help you do a Cruyff turn or a 40m cycle- sprint better, but he can help you learn what goes on inside your head.

Peters warns athletes against setting goals that are beyond their control. His philosophy is this: you cannot say I want to be the best cyclist in the world, because you have no influence over your opponents. You can, however, say I want to be the best I can possibly be, and devise a plan to achieve that aim.

When Chris Hoy climbs onto his bike he has a weapon on his side that is the envy of all his rivals. It’s not his carbon fibre bike, or a special energy diet, or some new training routine that has produced even more power in those famous quads. The weapon is the mind-management technique from sport psychologist Peters, who has never once cycled round a velodrome.

On the day of competition a lot of people start to lose it. Cyclists are hammering round the banked boards like frantic clockwork toys, and anxiety starts getting the better of them. They start saying things like: My opponent looks in good nick, their new bike looks to be going faster. I really don’t want these feelings, I really don’t want these thoughts, and they’re stopping me from competing at my best.

Hoy admits to being a very anxious man at times. In the keirin, his anxiety can threaten to take over six or seven times – the irrational, emotional side of your personality that is the most striking. Peter’s principle is called The Chimp Paradox, and explains how the human mind operates and how people can learn skills to manage their mind.

In The Chimp Paradox, Peters argues there are three elements to the psychological mind. He labels these the ‘Chimp’, the ‘Human’ and the ‘Computer’. Peter’s model is a tool for understanding and managing the functioning of the mind. The model is not a hypothesis nor strict scientific fact but based on the neuroscience of the brain. The model sees the brain as being divided into three teams:

The first team is you, the Human. You are a conscious thinking analysing being that works with facts and truth and then makes deductions using logical thinking.

The second team is the Chimp, an independent thinking brain that is not under your control. It works with feelings and impressions and then puts the ‘information’ together using emotional thinking.

The third team is the Computer. This is really a brain that is at the disposal of the Human and Chimp to put information into for reference. It acts as a memory and can also act as an automatic thinking and acting machine that is programmed to take over if the Chimp or Human is asleep or if they allow it to run ahead of them with preformed decisions and beliefs that it can act with.

The Chimp is the area of the mind that is driven by feeling, impressions, emotional thinking and gut instincts. The Chimp quickly jumps to opinions and thinks in black and white terms. It can be paranoid and its behaviour can be catastrophic, irrational and emotive. Its primary motivator is survival and it goes back to a very primitive and essential part of our human development.

It is how athletes manage their Chimp that dictates how well they perform. Put simply, learn ways to control your Chimp to train the brain to manage surges of emotion. Impulsive behaviour or nagging self-doubt can impact negatively on our professional and personal lives. Chances are, according to Peters, it’s your inner Chimp, that’s running amuck, and often at those moments of high pressure.

Essentially, there’s a battle between the separate parts of your brain, and the more primitive Chimp part is an extremely powerful emotional machine working five times faster than the Human part, so unless we have techniques for managing the inner Chimp, it often ends up in control and you’re left wondering ‘Why on earth did I do that?’

Peters asserts that managing your Chimp will be one of the biggest factors determining success in life – and it’s down to yourself to do it. Here’s his technique for doing so:

Firstly, realise you can’t bully your Chimp, you have to nurture it.  Meet the needs of your Chimp first and it will be in a position where you can then talk to it rationally and it will listen.  How?

Allow it to have its say, in an environment away from the action, for as long as it takes (typically about 10 minutes), without interruption.  Relax, go with the flow and let it out, however irrational. Once done you feel better and can begin to have a more rational conversation.

You now have the opportunity to deal with it in a measured way, using facts, truth and logic, to continue calming it and addressing its fears and concerns.  Remember they can be real.

In summary it is how to deliver the additional 15% that makes the difference between a good performer and a brilliant one. The key to success is thus managing the inner chimp – the carrier of fear, emotion and irrational thought; the part of you which will always want to jump to an immediate opinion, see things in black and white, think the worst and put you through hell. Managing the chimp allows you to make the logical decisions on the field of play, rather than be bullied by emotion.

When I let my enormous Chimp out, explained Hoy, I started thinking like a pessimist. I had a tremendous sense of foreboding, wondering about the what ifs, about crashes and mistakes. Steve has given me the skills to ask why it was happening, why I was allowing it to happen and how I could get round that. So we worked on that for a long time. I probably did more hours of mental training than I did physical.

The Athens Olympics 2004 was a tipping-point for both Hoy and Peters. The three riders in the keirin before Hoy all broke the world record. Rather than being overwhelmed by self-doubt and anxiety, Hoy used the step-by-step mental drill that the pair had been working on for months.

It was only with about 10 metres to go until the finish line that he first looked up and thought, hey, I’m in an Olympic final, says Peters, It was almost the perfect mental display.

So what exactly does Peters do? There is no recipe, it’s a simple technique that once learned can be applied to every competitive situation. Ask yourself what it is you want to do and why you can’t get there. It’s a mental warm-up, what Peter’s is effectively doing is putting you in a zone where you want to be there, and you’re ready to focus very quickly on your moment and nothing else.

Both Hoy and Pendleton could be forgiven for losing their hunger and motivation after achieving their career goals in the Laoshan Velodrome at Beijing, but they continued to kick-on, and both cite Peter’s technique as being their driver – the goals become: Let’s do the best we can, be prepared as an individual, make sure I get everything right. These are the goals because you can control these. At the end of the day you can’t do better than your best.

Peters tells a story of how, at cycling’s last World Championships, he saw Hoy looking at the giant screen over the track to see a rival break a world record. This wasn’t a part of the routine and Peters wasn’t delighted by what he saw, knowing it would provoke an anxiety. Hoy, equipped to fend off the Chimp, simply went out and secured his own world record.

Essentially Peters has identified the way in which self-doubt and irrational, impulsive behaviour can have a negative impact on our personal and professional lives. His mind-management techniques helps us to recognise when our minds are behaving in this way and overcome the self-sabotage to achieve more positive results in all aspects of our life.

The human part of the mind, as labelled by Peters, is rational, evidence-based, thinks in shades of grey and operates a balanced judgement. It is driven by self-fulfilment i.e. having a real, greater purpose in life rather than the moment-to -moment survival instinct of the Chimp.

Most of us might say the human part of the mind sounds like the part we’d aspire to achieve. But Peters argues it’s more complicated than that. As well as being your worst enemy at times, the Chimp can also be your best friend, and therein lies the paradox in the title. There is a time and a place for everyone’s inner Chimp to prove both useful and necessary.

Nonetheless the Chimp has an ability to hijack us and take over our reactions to situations rendering us irrational, emotional and out of control in a way which we regret afterwards. You cannot bypass the Chimp part of your nature, nor can you control it with willpower. You need to acknowledge it and work through it.

Research across various sports is that possibly as many as 90% of elite athletes will say that mental attitude and ability to deal with emotions and thoughts are critical to a successful performance. Mental resolve in elite sport is often cited as the difference between victory and defeat – keeping focus at the pinnacle of an event, the determination to convert potential into successful outcomes.

For example, two riders in the same race may have different emotions. One may be relaxed and managing their emotions well, therefore for them the impact of emotion during the race will be low. Whereas, the second rider may be a very anxious individual, who panics easily and loses confidence, and for this rider the impact of their emotions on their performance is very high.

I certainly feel far more aware of my own inner Chimp, and am beginning to recognise the moments when it has a tendency to derail my best laid plans. Having this mental measure as a check and balance in my everyday life, as well as having methods to manage and get the best out of this side of my personality rather than deny it, has already made this an invaluable impact, both personally and professionally.

I call this ‘Inner-Vation©’ – it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. When top athletes achieve a ‘Personal Best’, it’s all about realising their potential and achieving success in that moment of opportunity when it really matters, to enable them to reach beyond their expectations.

Success leaves footprints, and whatever your personal development needs or growth aspirations, you can make a leap forwards by modelling what others have done and adapting it to fit your own circumstances and objectives.  We all live lives of infinite potential but few of us make the most of what we’ve got. Opportunity is everywhere, but some people miss it because it looks like work.

Nothing should hold you back from reaching your potential, and that includes you, so what is it that’s holding you back? If it’s your Chimp, then take a look at Steve Peter’s The Chimp Paradox, and remove those inner demons.