Women of Note: Layne Beachley


Layne Beachley is regarded as the most successful female surfer in history. She is the only surfer in history to gain six consecutive world titles between 1998-2003 before going on to win a seventh in 2006.

Layne retired from her surfing career in 2008 and is now the Founder and Director of her own foundation, Aim For The Stars and travels nationally and internationally as a motivational keynote speaker.

Layne is the first former female World Champion of any sport to take on the role of Chairperson in a National Sporting Organisation and in 2015 was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to the community through support for a wide range of charitable organisations, as a mentor for women in sport and as a world champion surfer.

We spoke with Layne to ask her about her extraordinary life.


Is there one thing that drove your success?

It’s very difficult just to put it down to one thing but I’d say three things helped me become the most successful surfer in history.

Tell us about those three things.

For me, it starts with a clarity of vision. You need to know where you’re heading, what you’re going after and your ‘why’. Quite often we put the goal or the objective first, but people buy into why you do what you do, not what you do.

Why is it so important to have a clear direction?

A clear direction truly simplifies the process. You need to clearly articulate your vision, and it doesn’t need to be a vision based on outcome, it can be a vision grounded or anchored in how you want to feel.

And what’s your why?

My personal ‘why’ is ‘awakening others awakens me’, and that’s why I get up every day – to learn, to grow and then to share that knowledge to shortcut the struggle for others.

So, my ‘why’ today is very different from my ‘why’ 20 years ago when I was on tour.

So what’s the second driver?

The second piece of the puzzle is your dream team. Surround yourself with people who elevate and challenge you, who nurture your growth and development, who are honest with you and who bring the best out in you. Because quite often when we set very audacious goals, or we create very clearly articulated visions we find people who buy into it and support you. They don’t question it, but they may question you and the work that’s going into it and whether you’re doing what’s required of you to achieve the outcome and whether you’re staying true to yourself and your values. These are your dream team members. These are the people that you need around you all the time because none of us have achieved greatness without the support of others.

And the third?

And then the final piece of the puzzle is the daily actions you take. They either establish a stronger connection with your vision or with your team. Daily, you need to be holding yourself accountable to ensure that you’re supporting your growth, evolution and transformation. The opposite of supporting yourself is sabotaging yourself and I’m very familiar with both of those mentalities because as an athlete I was very hard on myself, very self-judgmental, very critical and was the queen of self-sabotage. So understanding the fine line and the balance between those dynamics then helps you be held accountable for the actions you take on a daily basis.

How do you push through your hard times?

Utilising my dream team, staying connected with my vision and then taking actions that are aligned with that. During my hard times, the biggest mistakes that I made as an athlete and in retirement is suffering in silence and suffering in isolation. It’s really important to recognise that every single one of us has at least one person in our life who we can reach out to and ask for support. One foundational pillar of support that helps us build our resilience, own our truth, nurture our soul and helps us make sense of the uncertainty and makes sense of our lives. That’s how I’ve been able to overcome all of my challenges.

Have you ever had to reach out to someone?

One mistake is when I had chronic fatigue for example, and I was in a state of what we refer to as the ABCD’s of negativity. It starts with anger, leads to blame followed up with criticism and then you’ll end up in a state of despair. With chronic fatigue, my whole body was so broken down that mentally I started to beat myself up for being broken. There was very little compassion or empathy for myself, so I ended up in a state of depression and then had suicidal tendencies and that scared the crap out of me. So I had to do something about it.

No one could help me until I was willing to help myself, so that’s when I picked up the phone and called a friend, and her response was “What took you so long?” It’s recognising that you have those support systems and then utilising them and having the courage to be seen. To be vulnerable does take a lot of courage.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

Geez, it’s like asking a parent who’s your favourite child. There’s been many of them, it’s very challenging to put one above the other. From winning six world titles in a row and being the only athlete to do that consecutively or then being able to win a seventh one, to coming back from a neck injury, overcoming depression and suicidal tendencies, or starting and running my own foundation that’s provided millions of dollars to support young girls and women to achieve their dreams.

I think I’d have to say that it’s the legacy that I’ve left, especially on the state of women’s surfing. That’s definitely one of the things I’m most proud of, the legacy that I’ve left and the improvements that I’ve made on the tour. I had a grand vision for the women’s tour, and I wanted to leave it in a better place than I had found it and I can honestly say I did.

What motivates you?

There are a few things. I’m an intrinsically motivated person so I’m motivated by how I want to feel, and then I’m motivated by my own set of standards. We set standards by what we allow, so I have very particular standards around my behaviours and my interactions with people. Even seeing plastic on the beach or in the gutter I feel compelled to pick it up and put it in the bin and I always do. So I’m inspired or motivated by my own personal set of standards and values and virtues. I’m also motivated by helping people and seeing others learn from my experiences to shortcut their struggles and then they can fulfil their potential in life. It’s a bit of a transaction.

Tell us about some of the work you do now.

I’ve just launched an online academy called The Awake Academy and we’re all about waking people up to detach from fear and to take control of a life they love. What we promise is no bullshit transformations. I’ve lived for 48 years, I’ve had a 19-year career, I won seven world titles and five of them in a state of fear. So what I want to provide people with is the opportunity to help them wake up and own their shit and trust in love. I want people to detach from fear, bring back the fun and find their flow.

Tell us more about the courses you’re running.

There’s so much uncertainty, disconnection and fear in the world right now and I feel like this course called ‘Own Your Truth’ is an opportunity for people to really anchor themselves in who they are, what they stand for, where they draw their own personal intrinsic inspiration and motivation from and design a life they love because a lot of us are living a life by default. So ‘Own Your Truth’ is the first of what I anticipate being several courses in the Awake Academy. As I said, my ‘why’ is to awaken people because I awaken whenever I have these conversations, I learn something. People often say we teach what we need to learn ourselves. I just want to simplify the complicated process of awakening, and what I mean by that is simplifying the process of living a life of design and not by default.

I’m an ambassador for WWF Australia and they came on board as our philanthropic partner, so we’ll be donating $7 from every course sold back to them to help them fund our initiatives.

Why is it so important to empower other women?

From my personal experience, I came through a time in professional surfing where women were devalued and disempowered. That was a really toxic period for women’s surfing. We’d lost our sense of identity and the industry didn’t value us; it was a real struggle. We clawed at each other and dragged each other down so therefore we lost the benefit of gender and we lost the benefit of the power of women. Today we see women talking about the glass ceiling, and we see women step into their power and own their grace, their beauty, the diversity and intelligence that they bring. The empathy and thoughtfulness that women bring to the table is the advantage that we all benefit from. Not just women, but the world at large. I’m really passionate about empowering and elevating other women because we hold up half the sky.

How did it feel to be the first female world champion to take on the role of Chairperson for the National Sporting Organisation?

Frightening. I went into self-sabotage mode the minute the opportunity was presented to me. I looked at it and thought, “I’m not smart enough and I’m just a surfer girl from Manly and I certainly don’t have the time.” I came up with all the excuses in the world to prevent me from stepping into an opportunity that was really exciting. I was just sabotaging myself and talking myself out of it and then, fortunately, I had the space to just walk away from that moment and ask myself, “Why do I want to do this?” And it excited me, and it was an opportunity to leave a long-lasting legacy and to give back to a sport that has given me so much and then I recognised where my weaknesses were, realised that I had a really strong network of people who could fill that gap and support me in my development and growth. So then I chose to step into it, and I’ve been relishing the role. I’ve really loved it. It’s taught me so much about governance, sponsorship, relationships, business, strategy and all of the things that come with running a not for profit on a national scale. So being the first women to step into that role, it’s my intention to inspire other women to believe that they can do that too.

Any advice?

If you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know what you want it’s fine to start with shining a light on what you don’t want. The majority of us are pretty clear on what we don’t want, but we then never ask ourselves what we do want. When we do ask ourselves that question, we tend to place limitations in front of us like I can never achieve that or I don’t deserve that, and that’s got nothing to do with you. It’s a matter of you pursuing what your heart’s desire is, what your life is calling you to do. It’s your obligation and responsibility as a human being on this planet to fulfil the potential that you were born to fulfil, and that comes down to you asking yourself the question, “What do I want?” and then having the courage to go after it.



Important: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. Consider the appropriateness of the information in regard to your circumstances.



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