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Jake Humphrey: Norfolk man's five steps to success

Jake Humphrey. Picture: supplied by Cornerstone Press
Jake Humphrey. Picture: supplied by Cornerstone Press

What are you hoping for this year?

If you are dreaming of success then Norfolk boy Jake Humphrey might be able to help.

He has spent much of his career talking to some of the world’s most successful people, presenting football and Formula One racing on national and international television, as well as interviewing stars for his podcast with psychologist Damian Hughes. Guests include Tom Daley, Gary Lineker, Kelly Holmes, Russell Crowe, Jo Malone and Jonny Wilkinson.

However, Jake’s own career began with excruciating failure. A set of disastrous exam results, followed by being sacked from his job at a Norwich McDonalds, left him feeling he had failed at life, aged just 18.

Great British Life: Jake Humphrey was president of the Royal Norfolk Show in 2013. Picture: Steve AdamsJake Humphrey was president of the Royal Norfolk Show in 2013. Picture: Steve Adams

He returned to his Norwich sixth form for retakes, and responded to a local television company’s request for student political pundits. It was the start of a journey which led to him covering elite sport around the world (and launching his own television company.)

Speaking ahead of the publication of his first High Performance book Jake said: ‘You could say that failing my A levels at the Hewett School is my biggest single failure and actually there is every chance that that is the single best thing that has happened to me.’

‘It was really difficult for me when I failed my A levels...It was really horrible to be fired from the McDonald’s at Tuckswood because they said I had no communication skills...But we have to understand that there are going to be really hard times. Life is tricky.’

Jake grew up just south of Norwich. His mum was a high school teacher, his dad chief executive of Age Concern Norfolk. His career took him to London before he and wife Harriet (they met as teenagers in a nightclub on Norwich’s Prince of Wales Road) returned to Norfolk to bring up their children.

Great British Life: Jake and Harriet married at Caistor St Edmund Church in 2007. Picture: James BassJake and Harriet married at Caistor St Edmund Church in 2007. Picture: James Bass

He has called returning to Norfolk ‘The single greatest decision we ever made.’ His ambitions for the year ahead include spending time with his family on Norfolk beaches – thanks to a conversation with a podcast guest about diaries reflecting priorities. ‘I told him my priority was my wife, children, and physical fitness...yet I never allowed time for any of those things in my diary. I'm correcting that in 2024,’ said Jake.

After years working with people who had achieved extraordinary success Jake became intrigued by how they reached their goals.

‘We've spoken to almost 250 people and they are all fascinating in their own right,’ said Jake. ‘Tyson Fury revealing his vulnerable side by opening up about his mental health challenges, Bear Grylls told us that the most important thing we can give our children is resilience...’

Great British Life: How to change your life: five steps to achieving high performance, by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes. Picture: Cornerstone PressHow to change your life: five steps to achieving high performance, by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes. Picture: Cornerstone Press

Using insights from the podcast conversations Jake and Damian have written a second book, How to change your life: five steps to achieving high performance.

‘We introduce the cutting-edge research that explains why these surprisingly simple tools are so effective,’ said Jake.

The steps are not just for superstars. ‘We ask ‘What does high performance mean to you?' at the start of every podcast and the answer is always so different.

‘For some people it's being happy or being a good parent; for others it may be being the best in their job or sport. Phil Neville answered in the way that I think explains it best - doing the best you can, where you are, with what you've got (based on the Theodore Roosevelt quote). No one can do more than that!’

Jake is a big believer in giving back and chairs the Community Sports Foundation run by Norwich City Football Club, is a patron of Young Lives Versus Cancer charity and Norfolk’s Break charity, and is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk.

Great British Life: Jake Humphrey is patron of Break - pictured here supporting the charity's fundraising dragon trail. Picture: NewsquestJake Humphrey is patron of Break - pictured here supporting the charity's fundraising dragon trail. Picture: Newsquest

Speaking as his first podcast book was published he said: ‘Too often people think, ‘I’m going to be generous when I’m successful. I’m going to be happy when I reach those goals. I’m going to be content when I get that thing. The truth is you can’t wait for life to be easy before you can be happy. You can’t wait until you have achieved and got all the things you want before you feel fulfilled. You can’t wait until you have enjoyed all the success you’re going to enjoy before you try to help other people.’

‘I grew up in a house where empathy and understanding and care for other people was always at the forefront of my mum and dad’s minds. We have a phrase in our family which is ‘roots and wings.’

‘Mum and dad felt it was their responsibility to give us roots and wings; the confidence to go off where we wanted to chase our dreams, and if we failed it didn’t matter because the other thing they gave us was roots.’

For Jake change is essential. Encouraging anyone seeking change he said: ‘Lots of people see change as negative but for me change is good and it is vital to grow and reach a fulfilling life. We should be looking to change all the time - we are under no obligation to remain the same year after year. I would encourage everyone to be open to it and see where it takes them.’

And asked about the role played by luck he said: ‘Luck is about seeing opportunity as well. Positive people are often 'lucky' because they spot the possible and are open to exploration. Optimism is so hugely important. If you are going through life with a pessimistic attitude, science tells us that you don't spot things as opportunities and you take less risks.’

His dream podcast guests would include Lewis Hamilton, Lady Gaga and Elon Musk.

So he begins 2024 dreaming of spending as much time as possible on the Norfolk coast – and looking for chances to chat to some of the most famous people in the world.

Great British Life: Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes. Picture: supplied by Cornerstone PressJake Humphrey and Damian Hughes. Picture: supplied by Cornerstone Press

Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes – the five steps:

Dream - imagine the life you want.

Leap - dare to go after it.

Fight - reframe the inevitable setbacks.

Climb - create momentum.

Arrive - what happens next?

How to change your life: five steps to achieving high performance, by Jake Humphrey and Damien Hughes, is published by Cornerstone Press



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