Layne Beachley OA on a World Champion Mindset and the Awake Academy
This is an incredible conversation with Layne Beachley, the 7 time World Surfing Champion. Her dedication to success saw her as the only surfer in history to claim six of those titles consecutively. However, with her natural and brutal honesty Layne shares how that wasn’t without its consequences. You will also hear, that since retiring from professional surfing, Layne certainly has not stood still. One of her recent focuses is her Awake Academy, which we discuss and explore, reviewing the lessons learned from her experiences and sharing that learning to help others through this program.
Take a listen as I talk with Layne Beachley OA on a World Champion Mindset and much more. For me the lessons from this conversation revolve around taking personal responsibility and ownership for things. It is about learning from others, not copying them, as we are all coming from a different place and perspective. As I have said before, it is about the quality of questions that we ask, and then truly listening to the answers – whether we are asking those questions of others or of ourselves.
If you want to know more about the Awake Academy you can check it out over at awakeacademy.com.au and if you do go through the program make sure you use the code INFINITE10 to get a discount.
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And why not check out more conversations with remarkable people on the infinite pie thinking podcast
Full Transcript of Layne Beachley OA on a World Champion Mindset
Layne Beachley 00:01
So your a seven time world champion, six of them won consecutively. I also won five of those seven in a state of fear, and two of them in a state of love. So when people say, do you believe? Or do you think you had to be that fierce and that focused and that driven for you to succeed? I can honestly say, upon reflection and hindsight, no, I didn’t. I have this deep feeling, like this deep core belief that success had to be hard. And so because of that belief, I made it so, because we’re always seeking evidence and what we believe to be true, then I was making sure that success was hard. And if you don’t know what you believe, then take a look at your life because your life doesn’t lie. So if you want to understand what your relationship with success or failure, then have a look at your life. And that’ll give you a good indication.
Hi, I’m Al Fawcett. And this is infinite pie thinking. At infinite pie, we apply a simple approach and principle of do stuff that matters with people who count in places that inspire. So basically, we want to help you focus on what’s important to you, create the connections that will help you to achieve it, and create an environment that people want to be part of. And that includes you. The purpose of this podcast is to talk with remarkable people to share their stories and perspectives on this. So first and foremost, let me say thanks to all my previous guests for giving their time and giving some incredible insights that I know that I’ve certainly learned and applied. I also want to thank you for taking the time to listen to these stories and being part of this, I hope that you’re getting as much from it as I am, from the messages and the feedback we’re getting that would certainly seem to be the case, so that’s awesome. In fact, here’s an example and it’s actually from one of those previous guests, Ian Bell reached out and said, I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by you Al, your narrative consulting approach, combined with your insights and experience really makes the interviewee think long after the consultation is over. It’s a fantastically useful process to go through even when not for the purpose of creating a podcast. Also, I would recommend listening to the other interviews in this series to anyone interested in human performance. Thanks Al, it was good chatting with you. Well, thank you Ian, I really enjoyed the conversation too. Okay, so how about today’s guest, this is an incredible conversation with Layne Beachley, the seven time world surfing champion. Her dedication to success, saw her the only surfer in history to claim six of those titles consecutively. However, with a natural and brutal honesty, Layne shares how that wasn’t without its consequences. You’ll also hear that since retiring from professional surfing, Layne certainly has not stood still. One of our recent focuses is her Awake Academy, which we’ll discuss and explore, reviewing the lessons that she learned from her experiences, and sharing that learning to help others through this programme. And if you want to know more about it, make sure you listen after the conversation as I’ll share some extra info with you. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, this was one of the most challenging conversations I’ve had for the podcast. It was nothing to do with Layne, who was truly amazing and very patient. It was the number of technical difficulties we had. In fact, this was the second interview that we actually scheduled as we had to reschedule the first one when we couldn’t hear each other. I thought we sorted it, and then throughout this conversation, we had all sorts of audio issues. I want to thank Layne for laughing along with me. Well, I hope it was with me, not at me. As we did all we could to tackle it and to keep moving forward. It really was a lesson in perseverance. Okay, so take a listen. And let me know what you think.
So Layne, welcome to infinite pie thinking.
Layne Beachley 03:42
Good to see you Alan, thanks for having me.
Oh, no problem at all, really looking forward to this conversation. So I’m going to start with the big question. Seven time world champion, six times consecutively. Only person to ever do the six times consecutively bit, what does it take to be a seven time world champion?
Layne Beachley 04:01
Well, from my point of view, it took, yeah it took a lot of focus, discipline, dedication, commitment, you know, all those classic cliches that people love to talk about. But I’ve actually established like a really, a model I per se about what it takes to sustain success over a long period of time. And for me, it started with a clarity of vision. And then it was about designing a dream team around me that fueled that vision and then taking action every day that was aligning me closer towards the vision or the dream team. So that became like my model for sustained success. And that ultimately is my accountability partner as well.
Brilliant. So I love the phrase, from my point of view, because I think that’s probably the only place you can come from right?
Layne Beachley 04:47
True, true. Yeah. It’s a bit of a yeah, it’s a bit of an obvious one, really, isn’t it? It’s like phonetic speech, at the end of the day, well, yeah, when you get there. But yes, from my personal point of view, from my own experience, because there’s other seven times world champions out there, and I’m sure they’ve done it very differently to the way I have.
Yeah, I love that. Because we’re gonna go on to talk about your Awake Academy, which I think is formed the basis of what you were talking about there a moment ago with vision, dream team and action, and allowing people to come from their own perspective. So from their point of view, so using your lessons, your foundations, what you’ve learned from it, but it being about them, and they’re building their vision, their dream team, and taking their action. Tell me a bit more about that.
Layne Beachley 05:29
First things first, just because I’ve succeeded doesn’t mean the way that I’ve done it is the right way to go about it. So I’m here to help shortcut the struggle just by articulating my methodologies and the lessons that I’ve learned and if they relate to you or pertain to you, then great, utilise them, shortcut your own pathway. And then, you know, learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make the same mistakes. But essentially, the Awake Academy, and the course that I’ve created called Own Your Truth is helping people own their truth, not my truth, not someone else’s truth. And what that means is stop living your life by default, start living a life by design. And by living a life by design, that way you can articulate what your vision is based on what you truly want for yourself versus what what you think others want for you.
Right, and I think that’s great, because again, it’s very easy in this society, and the way the world is to try and live other people’s expectations, what they think you should be doing or what they think you should have, rather than actually internalising and going, well, what’s important to me? So is this a hindsight thing for you? Is this you looking back over your career and go, well, what were the good bits and when it was working really well? And what were the bits that I didn’t like? And therefore, how do I help people to avoid those? So when you talk about the struggle, because some people would say you almost have to go through the struggle to achieve that success, but that’s not necessarily correct, is it?
Layne Beachley 06:55
No, you see, I’m often asked, so here, you know, you as you introduced me saying you’re a seven times world champion, six of them won consecutively. I also won five of those seven in a state of fear, and two of them in a state of love. So when people say, do you believe or do you think you had to be that fierce and that focused and that driven for you to succeed? I can honestly say, upon reflection, in hindsight, no, I didn’t. See, I won my first world title and my seventh world title in a state of love. And yes, there was some hard work and some setbacks and some obstacles. But there was joy involved, whereas world titles number two to six, it was just fear driven. And so there was the occasional pieces of joy. But majority of the time, it was just hard work. It was like pushing shit uphill all the time. And there was very little time for celebration, there was very little time for fun. It was just a slog. And now I’m dealing with the consequences of that slog by, you know, I’m constantly in pain management, I’ve cost a lot of great friendships. I’m probably not the most respected or reviewed World Champion surfer you’ll ever meet. Because the way in which I went about it, I’m not entirely proud of either. So, you know, there’s things that I look back on and go, if I had the opportunity to do it again, I definitely would do it differently.
Right. Right. And would you do it differently at the potential sacrifice of what you went on to achieve?
Layne Beachley 08:19
Good. That’s brilliant, because it’s so easy to just talk about the fact that, oh, yeah, I would have done it differently and it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d won or lost. But I love that. Okay, so achieving through fear. How did that manifest itself in you? What do you mean by I was achieving it through fear?
Layne Beachley 08:43
It manifested itself in ways that we’re all familiar with. So injury, failed, you know, really devastating losses, really hostile relationships, falling short, quite often. How else did it? I think they’re, they’re the four main ones. And, and so the first thing when you say, how did fear manifest itself in your life when you’re competing? The first thing that comes to my mind is injury. Right. And because I, I had this deep feeling, like this deep core belief that success had to be hard. And so because of that belief, I made it so, because we’re always seeking evidence of what we believe to be true, then, I was making sure that success was hard. And if you don’t know what you believe, then take a look at your life because your life doesn’t lie. So if you want to understand what your relationship is with success or failure, then have a look at your life. And that will give you a good indication.
Yeah. So would people on the outside looking over at you would they have seen fear? Or would they have projected a different image onto you?
Layne Beachley 09:53
I feel that most people projected a different image onto me, but that’s the thing, that’s what we all do as human beings, we we view things through our own lens and we create a narrative around that. And so, you and I can go through exactly the same experience and yet explain it and relate to it in a completely different way, just through the lens in which we view it. So people probably saw me winning and succeeding and partying and having great time and thought, wow, what a dream life, you know, look how easy, look how fun, look how spectacular that is. But, and, you know, quite often, very few people have earned the right to enjoy the struggle with you, you know, there’s, you’ve got to find those people who you know that you can trust and relate to on that certain level. And second to that is, people don’t see the shit you go through, they just see the outcome and think it was easy. And articulating what that struggle looks like, is, means that you have to own the struggle. And at the time, I wasn’t willing to own the struggle, because my whole sense of self worth and identity was wrapped up in the struggle. Like if my whole sense of self worth was wrapped up in my performance and my, my outcomes. So if I didn’t win, I was worthless and useless and a complete failure. So I had to win at all costs, because I was unconsciously driven by this, this fear that if I didn’t win, I was never going to be worthy of love.
So you said the first and the last were the ones that you won in love? So tell me about the first then, why that one? Was it because you were young and just doing it through passion and enjoyment?
Layne Beachley 11:30
No, I’d been on tour for eight years, there’s very little passion by this day. So, I’d set, I’d set my goals on becoming a world champion in the first five years of tour life, and by that stage, I was 25 years of age, and everyone’s like, come on, you’re over the hill, you’re a veteran now, get on with it. But I just never gave up on it. So in 1997, which was the year before I won my first world title, I did a rebirthing. And what a rebirthing is, is literally laying down in an environment where you feel very safe and secure with a practitioner who basically puts you into like a, a trance, but only through your own breath, they don’t do anything, they just, they just keep you connected with your breath. And it’s a cyclical breath. And it just comes in and out of your mouth. And it’s equal inhales as it is an exhale, and it transmits energy. And after that 45 minutes, I had this overwhelming awakening to the realisation that I had this integral, this driving fear of rejection, which was a result of being adopted. And when I became aware of my fear, it was no longer given permission to govern my life. Up until that point, it had permission to do so because I was unconscious of it. When I became conscious of it, I was enabled to become aware of the choices of my behaviours and my responses and, and so then I was able to take control of my life and start designing the way in which I lived it. And at that point, I fell in love with life. And by falling in love with life, I then fell in love with somebody else. And that’s somebody else was a guy called Ken Bradshaw. And Ken saw so much in me, occasionally, and more often, he saw more in me than I saw in myself. So I fell in love with life itself. I fell in love with surfing, I fell in love with the process, I fell in love with improvement. I fell in love with growth, I fell in love with another human being. So that translated to a love filled performance. And then when I won my first world title, I actually didn’t know that I’d won it. And then came out of the water and they were announcing a new world champion. I’m like, oh, where is she, and then I realised it was me. And so then the celebration went on, and then the next year, and this is what we do, when we’ve achieved something that we’ve been chasing after our whole lives. Well, this is what I did. But don’t let me project this onto you or anyone else. But what I did is I came back the next year thinking that I had to be twice as good as what I was the prior to deserve the right to do it again. And then I placed this unreasonable and an ordinate amount of expectation and pressure onto my own shoulders to them, replicate the result and do it again. And so each year, it just became more and more weighed down and burdened by expectation.
So you get back to year seven, and you turn it around again. So what happened in that sixth year to go into the seventh with that new mindset again?
Layne Beachley 14:23
So, world titles number 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were just a matter of obligation to me. It’s like tick got it, tick got it, tick got it. So when I got to the end of the sixth one, I had adrenal fatigue and complete exhaustion. As you can imagine, my, my body had broken down. And I came back the year, the following year thinking, alright, well, I’ve still got energy and I’ve still got the passion, I’ve still got the ability, let’s go for seven in a row. Come Layne, you can do this. And my body just was just cracking under the pressure and the body whispers before it screams but if you don’t listen to the whispers then it’ll just scream. And my body tapped out, I tore my medial ligament and my meniscus in my knee. My neck injury was flaring up consistently. I had some lower back issues, my hips were always needing treatment, my neck and shoulder, like everything was just in pain. And I just pushed through it, pushed through it, pushed through it, and then the following year, so I won my world sixth world title in 2003. 2004, my, I tore my medial ligament in my knee. 2005, my neck injury flared up, and I had to take six months out of the water. And it was that six months that was the catalyst for change for me. I had to do things differently, because the universe that my body and everything was screaming at me saying you can’t do it this way any longer, it’s not sustainable, it’s not enjoyable. And it’s just not going to work. So I had to respond to that and I chose to respond to that in a way where I embraced the challenge, I embraced the opportunity. And instead of being a victim about, oh why is this happening to me now? I’m so close to winning my seventh year old title, this is so unfair, I became the champion, I embraced the champion mindset. And I kept asking myself, why is this happening for me? So reframing the question from, why is this happening to me versus why is this happening for me, was then empowered me to take ownership of the choices that I was then committing to taking to heal my body. And I didn’t enter into that phase of my life with an outcome in mind that was aligned with surfing, the outcome was to live without pain. And then that was going to complement everything from there. So again, it took me about six and a half months, and I did a multitude of forms of treatment. One of the most profound was something called biosync therapy. And you’ll have to Google it to understand it, but the best way I can explain it is a practitioner and biosync, you have to have a lot of trust and connection with, and a guy I was working with out of America called Kent Ewing, basically he sticks his elbow in any part of your anatomy, where you’re holding pain, tension, anger, frustration, whatever emotion that you hold there, because our bodies store emotional energy, but distract us with physical pain. And he had to just drive his elbow through that stuck point. And he was literally, as he was saying it because your body is resisting and holding on. And he just keeps saying allow, allow, allow, and that transmutation of energy and stuck energy, because that’s what pain in the body is, is just stuck energy allowed me to process years and years and years of pain and suffering and torment and hurt and heartache and struggle. And so I was able to process his news of what most people would go through 50 years of therapy to do, it took me five months to go through it all. And I’m still you know, I’m still processing it. But I was able to come back with a newfound sense of lease of life, you know, I instead of sitting in the water in fear, I was sitting in love, like, what an amazing day, how beautiful it is, the suns shining, the water’s so clean and fish, and the sun feels so good on my skin. Oh yeah, I am in a heat, I better catch this wave. And then I’d catch a wave. And instead of worrying about the score and what my competitors were doing, I was sitting there going, wow, that felt really good. Okay, I’ll paddle back out and do it again. So learning to trust in ease, effortless and grace and gratitude is how I won my seventh world title.
So why stop at seven then, if you have that situation of you found this inner peace, you found this new outlook, was seven just the right time to stop to find a new path in life?
Layne Beachley 18:37
No, I did come back to attempt to win an eighth one because I love the look of infinity and you know the Chinese numeral system and eight looked amazing. However, I started to realise that if I’m looking for ways outside of myself to motivate me, inspire me and encourage me to win, then I’m not in for it, I’m not in it for the right reasons anymore. Right. It has to be an intrinsic motivation. And I started looking extrinsically and then that was a, that was a warning sign that it was time to give it up.
Great stuff. So I like the, this isn’t happening to me, it’s happening for me phrase that you used earlier. And again, was that a realisation? Was that something that you came to, during that period out of the water? That you started to realise, oh okay. So and it is at that point, you start to have a different outlook on life and the challenges as they were? Yeah. Because I think a lot of people do do that. I know I do. You look outside, there’s comparison. There’s expectation. We’re goal driven beasts that we’re told and all this stuff, but those goals can be outcome based goals. Yeah. And we feel like we’re failures if we’re not achieving those. Okay, so you come out of the water, actually, how’s that six months out of the water was that a pleasant experience for you? Or were you frustrated to want to be back in the water, because you just strike me as somebody who wants to be in the water regardless.
Layne Beachley 19:58
Yeah, I do love being in the water, it’s my happy place, it’s where I feel true freedom. So I was still in the water, I just wasn’t allowed to surf. So I embraced the fact that I was able to swim and float around. But the biggest challenge for me during that period was the exorbitant amount of pain. I mean, I was an extraordinary pain and discomfort, it was really painful just to sit for 10 seconds. You know, the most comfortable place I could find myself was just lying on my right side, that was the only place I could find find some level of comfort. And it was just, basically, I’m my, I was measuring my progress by my pain levels.
That’s crazy. Because again, I’m talking about somebody like myself outside looking in, and you have that situation of well, surfing is this peaceful flow mentality of you’re just there you connected with the water and all the rest of it. And then you talk about pain and hard work and challenge and, and it sort of seems incongruent, at first, you know, in that sort of sense, so. So it’s fascinating to hear that sort of stuff. I mean, people know that you have to work hard to achieve the type of results you’ve achieved. But I think it’s easy to just watch the outcome of, you on the water and go, well look at the gracefulness but not seeing what it’s taken to get there.
Layne Beachley 21:16
Yeah, it’s a bit of a false dichotomy.
Yeah, yeah, it’s an interesting one on that sort of basis, isn’t it? So, gonna bring us back a little bit to the start vision, dream team in action. So again, this is something that you’ve looked on, in hindsight, back to that time, because did you have, at the time, vision, a dream team? And obviously, you were taking action, but were you taking the right actions at that time? And you said, if you go back and do it, again, you do it differently? So what things would you do differently?
Layne Beachley 21:44
When I go back to my first seven years on tour, the only part of that model that I was really subscribing to was the vision, I had a very clearly articulated vision, I wanted to be a world champion, the dream team was where I was lacking. And therefore the action was often in sabotage of the vision, more so than in support of the vision. So I would show up drunk to heats or poorly prepared or with the wrong equipments, or show up drunk or late to training. Or just, you know, I’ve just found plenty of reasons and excuses and stories as to why I was failing. And it wasn’t until someone like Ken, for example, came into my life, who was my ultimate dream team member, who mitigated a lot of the distractions that I had in my life and taught me how to focus my attention. And I feel like the word focus at the time for me was the perfect acronym, because it stands for: follow one course until successful. And at the time, I was not following one course, I was following multiple courses. You know, I had all sorts of dreams and aspirations and ideas. I wanted to be a world champion and I wanted to be a TV presenter and I wanted to be a speaker and I wanted to be a mentor, and I want to do all these things. But how about you just focus on one thing right now and get the job done. So when I had the clearly articulated vision with the dream team, then I had someone outside of me to be my accountability partner. And most of us need someone like that, to hold us accountable, to ensure that we’re doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons.
And call you on it when you’re not, right?
Layne Beachley 23:18
And call me on it. So I refer to those people as my honesty barometers.
So you said you had the vision. Some of the things that I find with the people I talked to they struggle to articulate that. Do you find that if somebody is struggling to articulate that, it’s because they don’t know? Or because they’re not prepared to be really, truly honest with themselves and look inwards? I mean, what’s been your experience of that?
Layne Beachley 23:45
That’s a good question. At first, I was gonna say they don’t know. But then I feel like you hit the nail on the head when you said maybe they don’t have the courage to look within and see what is going on. You know, I often say, if you really want to know what’s happening in your life, have the courage to stand in front of the mirror and look in your own reflection and look in your own eyes and ask yourself, how am I going today? How am I feeling today? Because most of us will stand in front of the mirror and just pick ourselves to pieces, but not even look in our own eyes. So when you asked the question, if people can’t articulate it, I believe that all of the answers that we seek lay within, we have all the knowledge and all the answers all the experiences. And yet we have to also have the courage to shine a light on the shit. And that’s where, that’s where the diamonds lay. And, and I know that, you know, I’ve become the teacher, the mentor, the leader that I am today, because I’ve had the courage and the vulnerability to shine a light on the stuff that I’m not very proud of. And I’m not, I certainly don’t want people to replicate that behaviour. But I really want people to learn from it. Because you talked earlier about the you know, it takes hard work. No, it says you have to work hard to achieve success. I think there’s a very fine line between working hard and hard work. Working hard I feel is passion fueled, hard work is fear fueled.
Yeah, I love that. So, again, there’s shining a light on it, sometimes it’s being mindful of shine a light on those areas that we’re not necessarily proud of, shine a light on and be honest with yourself, but with a desire and an expectation to change it, to own it, and then change it, rather than use it as a stick to beat yourself with. And I’m a great believer of when you look in the mirror, and you’re asking yourself these questions, it’s the quality of the questions that you ask yourself. So when I’m coaching somebody else, it’s about the quality of the questions that I asked will determine the quality of the answers that I’ll tend to get. If I don’t get a good answer, I’ll ask a better question. And you got to do that with yourself. So is that the type of things that you’re doing across your course getting people to ask themselves better questions?
Layne Beachley 25:51
Yeah, shine a light on the stuff that maybe cause a little bit of discomfort because we’re often avoiding discomfort. I mean, everything that we do is literally to avoid discomfort. We even, we give money to charity to avoid discomfort. You know, as you say, the quality of questions that we ask, the quality of people we surround ourselves with, and the quality of choices that we make determines the quality of our lives. And it all starts with you. So let’s bring it all back to us as individuals and ask ourselves, who do I want to be? How do I want to show up? How do I want to feel? What kind of life do I want to live? And quite often that we’re, you know, we’re told to not be, don’t be so selfish, you know, don’t put yourself first but I feel that the safety demonstration on on the aircraft’s put it best right, if you can’t put your own oxygen mask on first, then you’ve no chance of helping anybody else, because you’re going to be lying on the floor, gasping for oxygen, while everyone’s sitting there with their mask going, sorry, can’t help you. So you really got to have the courage to put your own mask on first.
Yeah. And again, it’s interesting, even the phrasing of selfish, it sends a signal of oh, but I can’t be selfish. If I’m, if I’m looking after myself, if I’m caring for myself, I put myself first, then I’m being selfish. And actually, there’s a lot more to it than that, there’s that ability to be your best self, gives that best self to other people then. Exactly. You know, you’re ready, you’re in a position to offer a best version. Otherwise, think of the version of what other people are getting if you’re not your best self.
Layne Beachley 27:26
Exactly right. And quite often, we give our best selves to the people that don’t even know us. And then we give our most depleted versions of ourselves to the people who love us the most. And we just expect them to cop it. Like you just deal with that, will you? Because we want everyone to love us.
It’s really interesting how we get that balance. So dream teams. I mean, I know you talked about accountability partners, but to you, is it one person? Is it a number of people?
Layne Beachley 27:52
You know, the law of proximity states, we become the sum of the five top people we spend the most amount of time with. So that’s my dream team, the five people who, they’re not always around me, but they’re always in my life. So and I use that as my accountability or my barometer, that if I’ve upset somebody within my dream team that I need to shift or change my behaviour, or, or apologise, or do something differently, but say, for example, on social media, that if I’m encountering hostility or threats, or someone ridiculing me, if you’re not my dream team, I’m not going to be deeply offended by anything that you say to me. You know, I want to be loved, I want to be liked. But you know, I can’t be everything to everybody. So when I look at members of my dream team, they’re people who are honest with me, who challenged me, but also, most importantly, they bring the best out of me, they elevate me, they nurture me. They just, they give me fuel, they give me life. They, yeah, they just, they light me up. They’re my dream team.
So they’re the people that when you see their name on your phone, you’re happy to answer it, you look forward to answering it?
Layne Beachley 28:56
Always, always make the time for them too and I know they always make the time for me.
Yeah. And I think that’s the key. So you obviously had a team through your surfing career. So were there people that if you, looking back on now, that could have been potentially your dream team, but you didn’t let them in?
Layne Beachley 29:16
The first thing that I think about it regards to that question is that I had a surf coach who I still work with who’s who is such a valuable member of my dream team, surf coach, but I, I didn’t rely on him enough. And I didn’t allow him in enough. So I was very conditional about how I allowed my dream team to engage with me. I was very controlling. And because I always wanted to be in control, which is a false illusion. And now when I think back on my career, you know, there’s so many times when he was attempting to share with me information and I was just, I chose when I listened and when I didn’t and you know, my dream team I always had my best interests at heart. But honestly, I didn’t have my own best interests at heart at times. And there’s, you can’t help someone who’s not willing to help themselves. It’s like you can’t change someone who’s not willing to change. So that prevented me from, from being able to absorb and be supported in a much deeper way. And so therefore, I made more mistakes than I need to make. And I lost events that I didn’t need to lose. And I suffered setbacks and obstacles and injuries that I didn’t really need to endure. So that that’s been a really valuable lesson that I don’t know at all. I don’t have all the answers. And that’s why I surround myself with experts, because it saves me time.
Right, so, you have this surf coach, he’s putting you through your paces. But am I right in saying that you were listening to what you felt you needed to listen to? Yeah. But not listening to all of it? Because again, I know better. And we see this all the time that people have incredible people around them, and yet, they’re selective on how they use that information.
Layne Beachley 31:07
Absolutely. Yeah. I’ll talk to you tomorrow when I’m ready.
Yeah, again, I’m a great believer, obviously, it’s what I do for a living, but I’m a great believer in coaches, but it’s got to be that right relationship, and it’s got to be a matched commitment, it’s got to be that the coach has to bring their best self, but the person being coached has to be open to that coaching. So it, so it becomes as you say, it becomes that dream team, you, it’s amazing what you can achieve together then. Yeah. I suppose what happens in a scenario like yourself, it’s because it’s you that’s out there on the water, so the focus is on you. So therefore, there’s sometimes a thing of it’s all about you. And that can probably get into your head a little bit.
Layne Beachley 31:49
Totally, totally got into my head, it was all about me all the time. And I expected it to be all about me. And I was very fortunate that I had people in my life who brought that to my attention. So I didn’t get too far ahead of myself for too long. And and sometimes I was subtle about it. And sometimes they were sledgehammers about it but I was grateful that I had people that would pull my head out of my ass and say, hey, Layne, it’s not all about you, alright?
But when they did that, did you take it?
Layne Beachley 32:18
Yeah, whole heartedly. ‘Cause I, definitely, you know, if I’m gonna be someone’s gonna give it, I have to take it. Right. And that grates up against me when people who are very quick to give it, they can’t take it, can’t accept it. And there are people that you don’t really spend too much time with after you recognise this.
Yeah, it’s just I’ve, I’ve heard, you know, you listen to lots of interviews and lots of people and they go, what advice would you give the 16 year old Layne? And people give these answers, and I almost have a slightly different version of it, which is, what feedback would a 16 year old Layne have taken? And how would it have to have been given for you to have accepted it? Because it’s easy to say, well, I would have told them to enjoy the experience more or to go with the flow more. But at that time, you may not have been in the right mindset to just take that advice, so it’s as much about how you adapt the feedback that you’re given to the person where they are at the time. So sometimes, like you said, it needs to be a sledgehammer and needs to be a, oi, pull your head in, we’ve got this to do and other times it’s an arm around the shoulder. And it’s like, right, what’s going on? Let’s talk.
Layne Beachley 33:24
Yeah, and as I, as I got older, I became aware of the arm around the shoulder, and I learned to trust in that. But because I came through an environment at Manly where it was just tough love and your, you know, your school of hard knocks, I only learned through being a sledgehammer. And so therefore only learned to trust in being a sledgehammer and communicating with a sledgehammer.
So your feedback to others was sledgehammer-ish, was it?
Layne Beachley 33:49
Oh, brutal. I was tagged as having the compassion of a tiger shark, that’s how fierce I was, you know, like I saw you as in the way it’s like, I was gonna bite you, let you bleed out and swim on by like he didn’t even exist. You know, I was so brutal, so brash, so fierce, and that was a product of my childhood. And I just hung my hook on that. And went, well, that’s why I am the way I am. And then I started to realise that that is not serving me, nor is it serving my desire to be liked. And nor is it serving the quality of the relationships that I have around me, it’s actually compromising them. So sooner or later, sooner or later, you gotta shine a light on things that are working as well as the things that aren’t working, and then work out what you’re gonna do about it. It’s like, it’s why retailers have stock take sales because they got to work out what’s working, what’s not working, get rid of what isn’t, and keep building on what is.
I think, what can also happen is, I imagine, that reputation that you had at the start was almost seen as a good thing at the start. I can picture headlines where it’s almost sort of putting you on a pedestal because of that image, because of that expectation, and whilst the relationships of the people directly around you, your competitors and whatever, maybe not so good, the media portrayal or whatever it might be, go look at this relentless, and they would have used positive words at the time, relentless, focused, driven. And we all sort of go, wow, that’s what we need to be. And we can see this with things like people who study Steve Jobs and say that he was a real swine to work for, but he got stuff done, and he was a visionary and whatever. And therefore, now people sort of think, well, if I’m going to be a success, I need to manifest those traits, I need to be like that. So I’m assuming and I’m sure that there are probably a number of people that over the years wanted to be Layne Beachley, and you were their mentor, you their idol, and they were aspiring to right, so I have to be relentless. What, what would you say to those people now?
Layne Beachley 35:46
God forbid, don’t do it the way I did it. And that’s why I created this course. That’s why I created the academy and Own Your Truth, which is the course, because I was addicted to fear. I was convinced that life had to be struggle, and that success was only to be earned through pain and suffering. And unfortunately, the majority of the population believe the same thing. And it doesn’t have to be that way. So the reason I created this course, Own Your Truth, is to help people detach from fear and bring back fun to find your flow, versus investing in struggle and pain to find your flow. Because that doesn’t correlate.
So who’s the course aimed at? Who’s it for? If somebody is sitting here now going, I think that’s me, why would I go and click on Awake Academy? And we’ll put some links in the show notes and things like that for people to be able to go and access it. But who’s it aimed at? And what are they going to experience?
Layne Beachley 36:41
Well, it’s aimed at anyone who has a growth mindset, anyone who may be dissatisfied, unhappy, unhealthy, getting maybe stuck in a rut, elements of their life that aren’t working yet, they can’t figure out why or how what. Own Your Truth will give you clarity, because it’s focused on helping you design a life that you love, and detach from default living. So it starts with identifying how you’re feeling, because I’m a believer that everything that we do, every decision that we make is anchored in how we want to feel, from the underwear that we put on in the morning to the foods that we eat to the people we hang out with, you know, it evokes a feeling within us. But we’re also living this false illusion that it’s supposed to be all good all the time that we’re also always supposed to feel happy and joyful, like, life’s amazing. And that’s bullshit. Like life is not amazing all the time. So we need to learn how to honour the feelings, honour the feelings that were good and on the feelings that are not so good and recognise that that’s called being a human being. Once we recognise our relationship with our feelings, then we can choose our feelings. But we can’t just say oh, I feel good all the time. When deep down, we know we don’t. So first, we shine a light on our feelings, and we become connected to how we express those feelings and how we relate to those feelings. We identify our strengths, we identify our triggers, our stories, our judgments, we then create an alignment of who we are, who we truly are, who we truly want to be, how we truly want to show up each day. We then align ourselves with our dream team members, we, we determine who’s the who are the ream thieves in our lives, who are the honesty barometers in our lives, who sucks the life out of us, who elevates us, who brings us to life. And then we create an awareness, I mean an awakening of our spirit, and our life through bringing in more play, more celebration, learning how to celebrate failure, identifying with what things that you love to do, and whether you’re making the time for them. So it’s, it’s designing your life around who you are, how you want to feel, and how you want to be or the life that you want to live on a day to day basis. I’m a little bit passionate about it.
Just a little bit.
Layne Beachley 38:47
Very excited about it.
So you should be, because I think that’s great. And again, you know, there’ll be people who will turn around and there’ll be listening to that, and there might be a little part of them going, oh, yeah, but I’ve got a mortgage to pay. And I don’t really like my job. But I have to take it specially in this current climate. But this sounds like it’s much broader than those things. So again, it’s almost that thing of, well, that’s happening for you, not happening to you. So again, it’s it’s taking responsibility and ownership for the life that you are living, how you get up in the morning, what you do with your day, and what you bring to it, rather than just letting life happen to you.
Layne Beachley 39:28
Exactly. You’ve summarised it beautifully. Thanks, Al. That’s exactly what I want people to experience because once you take ownership of your life, then you are back in control, then you can determine what you do next. But if it’s always happening to you, and life’s always throwing these curveballs at you that you have no control over, then you become an instantaneous victim. And when you’re in a victim, you’re living life by default. It’s everyone else’s fault. You know, you end up in the ABCDs of negativity, anger, blame, criticism, despair, and then you subscribe to these stories, these negative stories, we’ll I’ve got to do it because it’s, you know, it’s just the pandemic. And it’s the time and I’ve got to do this. And, yeah, so we subscribe to these negative stories that keep us stuck in a rut, the only way that you, you can’t change what you can’t see. So we need to shine a light on what’s currently happening, so then we can create a different reality.
I have a similar sort of thing within organisations where it’s about ensuring that people start to understand. So we use this methodology of recording conversations of a similar sort of nature, and replaying that back and go listen to the story that you were telling. Because sometimes we’re saying these things, and we don’t actually realise how much negativity we bring into our words, or how much it’s somebody else’s fault. Or if only they did this, then my life would be better. And it’s really fascinating to see that. And then we talk about the values, the values of the business, and the values of the person. And values are just behaviours manifested. Do you know what I mean? So your behaviours will tell you what your values are, as you said earlier, so it’s your actions that lead to, well, that’s really telling me that the true person then, and we…
Layne Beachley 41:09
And some of those values aren’t very positive either.
Exactly, exactly. But it’s understanding though. So you can say my core value is x. But actually, you can see it’s really, it’s y, you know?. And again, I talk about this with my wife with regards to our children. And she will say to me, it’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you do, because they will follow what you do, you know? You can tell them, you can’t do this and you shouldn’t do that and maybe you should go and do this. But I’d actually be watching what you do, and they start to go, well, that seems to be the way things are.
Layne Beachley 41:42
Yeah, kids learn a lot more from what they see than what they hear. So if say, for example, you’re telling your kid as say, for example, a mother saying to their child, you’re amazing, you’re beautiful, you’re so talented, you’re extraordinary, go and live your dreams. And yet, they’ll walk into the bedroom, and they’ll see their mother standing in front of the mirror saying I’m fat, I’m useless, I’m ugly, I’m hopeless. They’ll believe that more than they’ll believe that they’re amazing.
Yeah, absolutely. So again, like I said, shining the light on it, asking the questions, once you start to get that clarity, because that can be a scary place, right? I imagine that going through that process can be a scary place. So how do you support them through that? Is that where they bring their dream team, identify and bring their dream team in really quickly to help them through that?
Layne Beachley 42:27
Yes, recognising that they’ve always got someone in their life that can support them. We also have a psychological partner at the academy called My Mirror. So in the event that they get to a point where they feel very uncomfortable and really need someone to talk to you then My Mirror offer online psychological support. From my experience it’s getting people comfortable with the, with the feeling of discomfort. If you can get okay with not being okay, then you’re going to be okay. Yeah. Simple as that.
You alluded earlier to the fact that there’s sometimes there’s this perception that only people who are constantly positive, have cracked it. And we all have negative thoughts, negative emotions, negative feelings, it’s just how quickly we can get ourselves back in alignment. You know, it’s how long we hold onto those negative thoughts. Something happens to us on the drive to work and all of a sudden, three o’clock in the afternoon, we’re still telling people about it, you know, about that guy that cut us off. Yeah, you know, it’s that ability to go, okay, that sucked. But I’m letting it go. I’m getting on with my day, I’m not letting it drive it.
Layne Beachley 43:36
And you were referring earlier to the importance of understanding your values. And one of the things I know that we underestimate is that if we have agitation with someone, it could be as something as simple as them rubbing up against one of your values. But because we judge what we don’t know, and we fear what we don’t understand, we will literally judge them and criticise them for being whatever we want to judge them as. And in actual fact, we haven’t taken the time to understand them.
Yeah, I agree entirely. Again, it goes back to the question, so what is it about them that’s jarring? We think that they’ve come into my sphere in order to piss me off. Yeah. And I see this in organisations all the time. I’ve experienced it in organisations where there’s certain people that you go, I don’t even want them to come in the room. I’ve got a meeting with such and such. And it’s only when I’ve taken the time to sit back and go, well, this isn’t going to change. If I keep doing this, I’m just going to keep getting the same results. And I can’t expect them to change. If they do, great. But the only thing I’ve got control over is me at this point in time. So let me talk a little bit of thinking about that. So obviously, you’ve got the Awake Academy, but is that your full time focus at the moment or you mentioned earlier that when you were surfing, you wanted to be a TV presenter and this and a mentor and, so is that your full time focus or are your fingers in lots of pies type of person?
Layne Beachley 45:00
Yeah, I’m a Gemini, I don’t have a full time focus. I’ve got, God, lots of things going on all the time. I’ve just hosted a retreat here in Sydney over the last weekend called Mind Body Surf, which was a huge success. And that was deep diving into some of the things that I present in my course. I’m a motivational speaker. I’m the chairperson of Surfing Australia, which is a full time pro bono role. And I sit on a couple of other boards. And yeah, I do a bit of media commentary and a few appearances here and there and a bit of mentoring. And, yeah, there’s a variety of things going on in my life. But ultimately, the decision making framework that I learned after I retired, because I felt like I got so lost when I retired. And I was saying yes to everything and everyone, I had to define a decision making framework. So when something’s presented to me, and this is something I share in my course, as well, when something’s presented to me and it lights me up and fills me full of excitement and curiosity. It’s a hell yeah, let’s go after it. So there’s been a lot of hell yeah going on. And, and I’m, yeah, I’m really enjoying all of the the variety of experiences and challenges that I have in my life.
So that decision making process. I think that’s quite powerful in itself, in a sense of, it’s easy for people to say, oh, well, I suppose I should, whereas you’re saying to give up your time that you could be putting into something else, it’s 100%, yeah, absolutely. I’m all in hell yeah, why wouldn’t I want to do this, type attitude. And that’s a tick in the box.
Layne Beachley 46:30
Yeah. The ticking the box is, hell yeah, I’m like, I’m really excited by it. If ever the words shoul, would or could enter into the discussion, the equation or the, or the, the decision making framework, then it’s a fuck no, like, absolutely not, don’t want anything to do with it.
I love the black and whiteness of it. Because again, we get lost in the middle so often.
Layne Beachley 46:52
We start rationalising it and validating it and, and convincing ourselves it’s the right thing to do when deep down we already know it’s not right. But we’re just we want it to be right. We want it to be other than what it truly is. It’s either a hell yeah or a fuck no, and there’s nothing in between. However, there are a couple of anomalies in between sometimes. And then if there’s an anomaly where it’s not one or the other, I usually just go hell yeah, and let’s, let’s see what it brings. But that’s only maybe three or four times, you know, the rest of the time, it’s the yep or no. And then I’ve created like, a way to let people down because one of the boundaries that we have to that prevents us from saying no, is letting people down. And so if you can let people down nicely, then you have a, you know, it builds up your resolve to do it more often.
Yeah, absolutely. It doesn’t have to be brutal, does it? But hey, look, Layne, it’s been a joy and a pleasure today. I’m really, really pleased that this got a hell yeah, for this conversation. It’s been an interesting one, on a whole lot of levels, for technical issues, and all sorts of bits and pieces. But it’s early in the morning for me, it’s in the afternoon for you. So I’m lucky enough to have this as the start of my day. And it certainly set me up for a fantastic one. So thank you very much for your time.
Layne Beachley 48:10
Thank you very much for your time, too, Al. I’ll say it’s been lots of fun.
So I want to say another very big thanks to Layne. So what did you take from that conversation? For me, it was all about taking personal responsibility and ownership for things. It was about learning from others, but not copying them, as we’re all coming from a different place. And as I’ve said before, it’s about the quality of questions that we ask, and then truly listening to the answers, whether we’re asking those questions of others or of ourselves. Now if you want to know more about the Awake Academy, you can check it out over at awakeacademy.com.au. And if you do go through the programme, make sure you use the code infinite10 to get a discount on it. If you missed that, don’t worry, I’m going to put these and other details in the show notes. Of course, if you want to reach out to me, you can find me on all the various socials, normally with a search of infinitepie, or Al Fawcett. Or of course you can always head over to infinitepie.co.uk. I really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch and I really do love hearing from you. So thanks a lot for listening. Now go and do stuff that matters.