I hadn’t had the opportunity to listen to any of the episodes of the High Performance Podcast before seeing the stage show version, High Performance Live. I don’t really ‘do’ podcasts – there are too many distractions at home to sit through an entire episode of anything, and besides, like psychologist Professor Damian Hughes, I like books (and unlike him, I don’t read nearly as many of them as I would like). He and Jake Humphrey have been good enough to write a book as well as a ‘journal’ – unsurprisingly, I haven’t read the latter either.
Anyway, High Performance: Lessons from the Best on Becoming Your Best is very accessible, and some of the insights, for want of a better word, are remarkably simple, such as being consistent and persistent in doing what needs to be done to get where you want to go – and being on time for things. Hughes and Humphrey (or is Humphrey and Hughes?) had noticed that everyone they had booked in to interview for their podcast had turned up before their scheduled meeting time. Oh, but what about transport delays, whether on public transport or on the road network? There are many – fully valid – reasons why someone might be late for something, such as a family emergency or a leaking pipe at home. And it isn’t that the High Performance guests don’t have problems – they live in the same world the rest of us do – but one way or another, they still managed to be early.
To prevent the evening being two and a half hours of death by PowerPoint, Hughes and Humphrey’s insights are interspersed with plenty of video clips from their podcast series (there are now, according to Hughes, 188 episodes). There were also a number of live guests, plus a question and answer session. It’s not that often in any environment where a question gets a round of applause, though one about how the pair overcame disagreements or differences of opinion was particularly astute, especially as it was preceded by a different questioner who wanted to know about building a successful team.
One of the guests is a keen listener of the podcast, introduced after Hughes invited the audience to indulge in a few rounds of a variation of ‘Guess Who?’ – the point of the exercise being to demonstrate that someone triumphing over adversity is, as it were, engaging in high performance, whether they are Dame Kelly Holmes, Matthew McConaughey, or a woman whose name I literally cannot remember but was brought on stage to talk about, amongst other things, an online educational platform she set up. Her victories, and therefore anyone’s victories, are just as worthy as those of household names.
Roxie Nafousi spoke at length, even though she pointed out it was the quickest summary of her seven-step plan to manifesting she has ever given. In short, to ‘manifest’ something, you can’t just tweet that you’re manifesting something. That’s not manifesting. That’s tweeting. You must ‘be clear in your vision’ and then work towards realising it by doing things like casting aside fear and doubt, and ‘turning envy into inspiration’. I don’t think the art of manifestation is for me, but it was enlightening to hear about what it actually involves and how it could, if one wanted to, implement it and make it work as a self-development tool.
Kye Sones’ story was, in some ways, a traumatic one, at least in part because he was a former contestant on The X-Factor, with the familiar (to me, anyway) narrative about how ruthlessly exploitative the whole experience was. He’s a singer-songwriter who has since forged his own path, and the London Palladium audience was either treated or subjected to a couple of his songs. One was about mental health and wanting to have a frank and heartfelt conversation with himself – the other, was a song he co-wrote and co-composed, ‘Remember’, made famous by Becky Hill and David Guetta, an English singer/songwriter and French disc jockey and music producer respectively.
The dissemination of a wide range of ideas, and the freedom given to the audience to pick and choose as much or as little of it as they wish, is both refreshing and reassuring. I might just listen to a podcast episode or two. Or even 188.