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Layne Beachley – tackling demons and self-doubt to achieve success

November 13, 2018

Layne had the audience gripped at the RCSA conference as she recounted her path to become a seven time World Champion and occasional rapper. Here she shares the lessons along the way.



The last thing most people would think when they look at seven times’ World Surfing Champion Layne Beachley is “this is a woman who knows what it feels like to live with a lack of self-worth”. But as she told attendees at the RCSA conference in Noosa, it was this need to prove herself which compelled her to succeed.


Late on the second afternoon of a two-day conference is a tough speaking gig for most people, unless of course you are Layne Beachley. As the final speaker of the conference, Beachley had those in the room in the palm of her hands as they sat entranced listening to her talk about The Art of Success - mirroring the conference theme of The Art of Work.


Central to her message for those attending the sold out conference was how the relationship each person has with themselves sets the tone for all the other relationships in their life.


“Every challenge we face provides a stepping stone towards achieving what we want in our lives,” Beachley told the 350 industry participants from New Zealand and Australia at the conference. “I believe choice, not chance, determines our destiny.”


Beachley explained she had set goals for herself from a very young age, unsure how much the grief she experienced from the loss of her mother and an admission from her father had informed these decisions. “For me, everything can be connected back to my childhood,” Beachley said. “I lost my mum when I was six years old and then when I was eight, dad told me I was adopted.


“This was when I became aware that perception starts with the brain. While my dad was telling me about my adoption and how much he loved me, all I chose to hear was ‘you weren’t wanted, your mum didn’t love you, you are worthless’.


“In my mind, I decided I had to prove myself to the world to show I was deserving, or worthy, of love. I decided if I become a world champion, everyone will love me! I just didn’t know what I was going to be a world champion of.


“By the time I turned 14, I decided I would achieve world champion status through surfing. In my first competition, at 14, I came dead last.


“Upon reflection, all of my success emanated from humble beginnings;. I mean it took me about 900 takes to record my first radio advertisement. My first live television interview, I experienced stage fright and went mute. I even received a formal written complaint following my first motivational keynote presentation.”



Utterly unfazed by her loss, the young woman who had found solace in the ocean at Manly Beach held on to her desire to prove her worth and relished pushing herself to get better.

“I was often the only girl in the water, and recognised if I wanted to advance I had to upgrade from my old ‘foamie’ board to a fibreglass board and move to where the more experienced guys were surfing at [notorious] North Steyne beach,” Beachley explained.

“I knew I needed a challenge and even at 14, I knew that was the only way to grow.


“They [other surfers] didn’t cut me any slack and they would often yell at me, saying ‘you’re a girl - get out of the water’.


“They would pull my leg-rope, hold me back from catching waves and regularly insult me.


“But I had clarity of vision and I knew the fastest way to grow and achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a world champion was to surf with people who were better than me. I turned up every day despite their hostility...they don