Have you ever felt that different parts of your brain or personality were warring against each other? Part of you really wants to make a change to your business, and another part keeps avoiding or even sabotaging that? 

Maybe you really want to start offering a new service or product, but somehow you never quite seem to have the time, or you keep coming up with reasons why it may not work, rather than just giving it a go in a small and manageable way and seeing what happens?

I’m guessing you have felt that kind of internal struggle, because you’re human, and our brains actually do not work as a seamless whole. 

The Chimp, The Human and The Computer

According to Dr Steve Peters, in The Chimp Paradox, the brain can be seen as divided into three parts.

This is partly a metaphor, but there is some biological basis as well. 

We have the the Chimp (who has a lot in common with the Inner Troll, and is seated in the reactive amygdala), the Human (which is your logical, ‘sane’ part, and seated in the pre-frontal cortex), and the Computer (which is actually many different parts of the brain, and is about the automatic ways we behave and think)

Both the Chimp and the Human can ‘programme’ the Computer, and most of us are carrying around programmes our Chimp set up in childhood, based on copying our care-givers, or possibly doing the opposite of what they were doing.

It’s subconscious and happens automically, and this is one of the reasons why coaching can be so helpful, because a good coach will help you spot these patterns in action, and question them.

The 5 Drivers

A useful set of these patterns that many people recognise is what’s known in TA (Transactional Analysis( as the five key drivers.

See if you recognise any of them:

Hurry Up

You are always rushing around being terribly efficient and productive (so far so good), but you also to try and squeeze too much in, and end up frazzled and overloaded. 

Please Me

You probably have lots of friends and are known for being super kind and helpful. Underneath though, you may be getting fed up with no-one ever showing you the care and consideration you show others. People with this driver can end up being victimy, and resentful.

Try Hard

You have a lot of determination and persistence, which is a good thing. However,  you are never really satisfied with what you achieve. You often feel anxious, and are very sensitive to criticism.

Be Perfect

You achieve a lot, and other peiple admire you. However, you are always worried about making a mistake, and seeing everything come crashong done. You may also suffer from imposter syndrome.

Be strong

You are always there to help others, and tend to be seen as a ‘rock’.  However, you see it as a sign of weakness to ask for help yourself. You rarely show emotion. Under stress you tend to withdraw into yourself, and won’t ask for help.

How to manage your drivers

Once you are aware of which of the 5 key drivers you tend towards, the next stage is to try and spot them in action. This is where developing a mindfulness practice can help, as when we are acting under a driver we are usually ‘unconscious’, or on automatic pilot.

Having noticed them, you can set up a deliberate counter-argument in your brain. For example, as I am aware of my tendency to ‘hurry up’, I will often stop and breathe and tell myself ‘I have all the time I need’.

You can also create new habits, such as leaving 5-10 minutes cushion time between activities, so that you are not rushing from place to place. These new thoughts and habits will not come naturally, and you may feel some emotional unease, but just notice that too, and carry on. 

The ‘Computer’ is simply a series of short cuts that your brain has created, and by deliberately going against the programming you can rewire it over time, so that it doesn’t drive you in the same way.

This doesn’t mean completely changing your personality: if you have the ‘hurry up’ driver, you will probably always incline towards wanting to be super productive and fast, but it does mean that you can mitigate the negative impacts, so that you are not unconsciously driven to do this even when it would serve you better to be relaxing.

And when you get frustrated about your drivers, remember that the Chimp programmed you that way in order to look after you, and keep you safe. It’s just that now, you, the Human part of the brain, knows better, and can take a more sophisticated view.

In this way, instead of being trapped into automatically doing the things you’ve always done, and getting the results (in business and in life) that you’ve always got, you can start to step out of these old patterns and make positive changes.

the Confident ELT Freelancer- Earn Learn Thrive


If you’re an ELT freelancer/business owner you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all the business advice out there…

Should you start a podcast or a YouTube channel, a mailing list, a membership? Is it a good idea to keep things as simple as possible, or should you be looking to diversify? What does scaling even mean, anyway?!

Would you like some clear step by step advice tailored to your stage of business? 

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