Not Today Chimp!

In school, and throughout my early corporate career, I was studious, kept my head down, got good grades and hated physical exercise.  I worked hard, was nominated for awards, won one at university, where I studied a Master’s degree. Life was ‘normal’, or ‘as expected’.  Back then I was not adventurous.  I was listening to what Professor Steve Peters calls my chimp brain. The chimp wants to keep you safe and away from danger.  If it were up to my chimp, I probably wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, for fear of falling over.  As we grow up, we teach the chimp new tricks.  We push the chimp’s comfort zone.

In 2015 the company I worked for was acquired by General Electric (GE).  Life changed.  I inherited a new boss and team in a role I had done for 8 years.  I engineered an opportunity to move and landed myself a promotion with a brand new team, with a wonderful leader.  Being in a senior role gave me ‘Roots and Wings’ (a poem by Denis Waitley).  I came alive, taking on additional roles, leading initiatives at work, arranging events and finding I could be my own boss. I was unleashed!

I was nearing 40.  Life was beginning! I took on more challenges, tried new things.  I paraglided on holiday with a complete stranger I’d met minutes before.  I ran solo in obstacle courses.  I took on challenges in those obstacle courses that scared me.  One of the course’s motto is ‘Don’t fear the challenge, challenge the fear’, which I started to ‘test’. I triggered what I call my ‘Brave Bullet’. I became less afraid of failure, and more about the adventure.  I had been reading, studying and wanting to start a coaching business.  I brought a mindset coach into work to deliver a programme, which sparked my passion and courage. I assessed my own values, strengths, and feedback I had received over the years.  The team at GE changed.  I was offered a new role, with a new system and new colleagues.  I said yes, which I often do (then think how to do it later). I was sent to Athens, Greece, to present to a room of around 60 people on the system I had taken on days before.  I was more scared of not giving the audience value than anything else. But I went.  I challenged my fear and soared through the trip.

I now have what I call Magpie Syndrome – I love new experiences.  I am passionate and creative, I love to lead, I volunteer to use different skills (I call this ‘try before you buy’), I am removing ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary – because who says I can’t? I am testing every day. Using my passion, enthusiasm, and inquisitiveness to try new things.  To climb higher. Some things work, some don’t.  I adapt and move on again.

There is nothing holding me back, my chimp is silenced, he is learning new tricks.

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