The Five Chimps Theory

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” ~ Unknown


Naval Ravikant mentions a theory called “The 5 Chimp Theory” in the book Tools of Titans. It says that in zoology you can predict the mood and behavior of one chimp by observing which five chimps they hang out with the most. Similarly, Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Basically, you take the behaviors and mind think of that group. In my case, my five-chimp group is composed of family, friends from high school, and those who became friends later in life. By the way, I don’t believe the magic number has to be exactly five. It could be four or six or other number. The point remains that you should be mindful of those you frequent, as you will behave like them.

So this idea tells us that if we want to grow as a person, we should be mindful who we are hanging around with. Success gurus tell us that we should discard these people if they are toxic and if their life values are not aligned with ours. Life is like quick sand and if we stop to rescue others from it, we will all sink. So we should evolve and make new acquaintances, people who are positive and share similar life goals, and who with time will become close friends. We will push each other toward the goal, whatever that is, but one who should be similar.

But these experts may have neglected the fact that humans are different than chimps. My family and friends were at my wedding, we have had many adventures together, and most importantly, were there at my lowest points. I remember some of my darkest days when I would be driving in my car, lost in thought, and for no reason my cell phone would ring and one of my best friends would call me just to see how I was doing. That is priceless! I have done the same as well. These last few months two of my closest friends lost their mothers. I did not know what to say or do, but I tried my best to be there for them.

So, I have decided to not listen to the experts this time. I do not mean giving up on my dreams, but more like continue on this journey WITHOUT giving up on those close to me that for whatever reason, decided that life is just fine the way it is. So my group of chimps can be a little different than what the theory says. We have one lazy chimp who eats and sleeps all day, one happy-go-lucky chimp who plays with twigs and rocks, one romantic chimp who chases after other chimps, one motivated chimp who collects bananas for the future, and one who observes and tries to keep them all together. They can make their own conclusions as where they fall in.



Photo by Dylan Mullins on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “The Five Chimps Theory”

  1. Another powerful and authentic article! Thank you for the various points of views that you present from experts and from your own life experience. Definitely be mindful about who we spend most of our time with and be equally loving, accepting and supportive of all. I know which monkey I am! 🐒


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