Layne Beachley AO is one of Australia’s most inspiring role models. Now a sought after keynote speaker, trainer and author, Layne overcame a myriad of obstacles, including chronic fatigue, depression and injury, through sheer determination and grit to become a 7 time female Surfing World Champion.
Not content with her incredible achievements to date, Layne continues to forge through the world changing it for the better. Through her Layne Beachley Foundation, ‘Aim for the Stars‘, she offers scholarships and mentoring to ambitious, aspiring women to help them achieve their goals. Aim for the Stars was borne from Layne’s personal experience of financial hardship, and working 60 hour weeks and multiple jobs during the first 8 years of her surfing career, from age 16, to support herself. This left her very little time to actually surf, but despite this, Layne is widely regarded as the most successful female surfer in the world.
Layne was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.
You have achieved so many firsts in your career. The first and only surfer (male or female) to claim six consecutive world titles, and the first former female world champion to Chair a National Sporting Association. What other firsts do you have in your sights?
Quite honestly I don’t set intentions to be a pioneer. It just happens organically as I navigate my way through life and make the most of opportunities available to me. Surfing was the perfect platform for me to achieve my goal of becoming a world champion. And once I claimed my first world title, I had absolutely no intention of letting it go. I love to win and by doing so I also gained a valuable education in losing, building relationships and risk taking.
As Chairperson of Surfing Australia, your vision is to seat Australia in the number one position for the women and men’s professional surfing tours. What strategies are you leading to make this a reality?
Surfing Australia’s mission is to: Create a healthier and happier Australia through surfing. We are achieving this through our developmental pathways. Our strategic plan currently focusses on a number of key areas:
- increase national participation,
- continue to build profile and capacity into our national board riders clubs,
- deliver 3 world champions over the next 3 years, and
- grow our national audience through a strong digital platform, and an operational surplus.
You were first mentored by 1990 World Surf Champion Pam Burridge. How has Pam and other mentors’ advice and guidance helped shape the leader you are today?
The majority of my mentors have been world champions. I firmly believe when you surround yourself with experts, especially those who have achieved what you are after, you will save yourself a lot of time. Pam and her husband Mark taught me many lessons around travel, competitive strategy and understanding my equipment. Tom Carroll introduced me to Yoga and the importance of mindfulness and maintaining a sense of balance. Wendy Botha introduced me to my personal trainer, ultimately making me the most mentally and physically tough competitor on tour. Guy Leech has also been one of my greatest mentors and has served as what I refer to as my honesty barometer, helping me keep things in perspective, specifically in times when I felt lost or lacking in confidence.
Tell us about some of the dreams you have helped girls achieve through Aim for the Stars.
Over the last 13 years we have provided over $900k to almost 500 girls and women to achieve their dreams across a diverse range of pursuits such as music, science and technology, business, sport, art environment and community. Asking me to select one is like asking a mother to chose her favourite child! We have supported girls to become world champion athletes, community leaders in the fields of diversity and body image, launched environmental campaigners onto global stages and assisted girls in acquiring PhDs in science, law and health. We are cultivating courage and self belief in young women to become leaders, which then enables others to succeed.
You have been very transparent about some tough times in your life. How has publicly acknowledging your vulnerable moments helped you, and in turn helped others?
Owning my story allows me to write the ending. The biggest mistake we can make is to isolate ourselves when times are tough and believe we not only deserve to be in the darkness but also stay there alone! Sharing my vulnerabilities empowers others to do the same and provides them with the permission to open up, effectively shining a light on their darkness. This killed the gremlins, and it has the same effect on our own inner gremlins that hold us back from living a life of joy, and fulfilling our potential.
What’s been your greatest challenge?
Accepting I am enough. It took me 6 consecutive world titles to achieve self acceptance. Sometimes I still struggle with it, which is when I rely heavily on my friends, family, mentors and honesty barometers. Learning to meditate and gratitude journaling has also allowed me to overcome many challenges in life.
What are you most proud of?
My legacy. Remaining authentic, never compromising on my values and learning to listen and trust my intuition.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
My model for success is based on 3 pillars: Clarity of Vision, Building a dream team and Risk taking. All of this ultimately comes down to how you want to feel. So the best piece of advice I can offer is gain clarity on how you want to feel, and that will empower you to ask the right questions, surround yourself with the right people and make choices that enable you to live an inspired life .
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