Interview – Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley is an Australian icon. A professional surfer at 16, seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion, Director of the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic Contest and founder of the Aim for the Stars foundation. Layne has achieved more than most of us ever dream. We’re really excited to share our interview with Layne, she shares her strategies for success, the challenges she’s faced and what has inspired her to get where she is.

Layne Beachley Favourite’s:


Album: INXS Kick

Book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Never Ending Story

Restaurant: Hugo’s Manly and The Manly Wharf Hotel

What inspired you to start the Aim for the Stars foundation?

The Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation was launched in 2003 with the goal of providing financial and moral support to girls and women across Australia. Aim for the Stars helps them to realise their dreams in sporting, academic, community or cultural pursuits.

The inspiration for the foundation came just after I won my sixth consecutive World Title and I had the opportunity to reflect on what I had endured to get there and the role certain individuals around me played in ensuring I achieved my goals. I decided then and there that I wanted to become one of those individuals in young females lives whenever I can.

How long has the journey been?

I began surfing at the age of 4 and set the goal of becoming world champion at 8 so it’s definitely been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs. After almost two decades on the ASP World Tour the journey has begun again out of the water through the Aim for Stars Foundation, Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic and more recently through the INSPIRE Layne Beachley Workshops for Schools Program. It’s been a long journey thus far, but a wonderful one that is still continuing.

What have been your major achievements in your career to date?

Winning my first World Title was fantastic, and then being fortunate enough to back it up six times consecutively before winning my seventh title a couple of years later was wonderful. Obviously every World Title is uniquely special in its own way but the ability to use the attention I received after winning these accolades to give back at a very meaningful level would have to be my greatest achievement. The legacy I’ve created through the Aims for the Stars Foundation and the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic since inception is the end result and the culmination of a lot of hard work and desire to make a positive difference.

And the biggest challenges?

Twenty years on the female world surfing circuit certainly didn’t come without its share of challenges. Throughout my surfing career I struggled to financially support my endeavour to become surfing world champion. This often involved working three to four jobs whilst undertaking a strict training regime both in and out of the water.

The Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic has cemented itself as the world’s richest female surfing event, and has become the catalyst to increase the prize money for female ASP tour events around the world.

During my surfing career I also battled with the mental, physical and emotional challenges of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which eventually led to depression shortly after winning my first event on tour. Overcoming this illness provided me with the mental toughness to overcome any future adversity. I was able to fall back on the determination and drive I needed through this experience at various times throughout my entire career in and out of the water.

What are your strategies for success?

Throughout my career, I was fuelled by my three pillars for success – drive, desire and determination:

Drive – Drive comes from your motivation to get what you want, and also through the support of others. It’s really important that you gain clarity on what your goal is, how you’re going to get there and who is going to support you. Always surround yourself with people who know more than you do.

Desire – If you are doing what you love then you’re doing what is right. Desire and passion resonate with your body, mind and soul. When you’re passionate you don’t question, judge, criticise, second-guess, or doubt. It’s that passion that will fuel the fire to overcome challenges.

Determination – When things are going poorly, when things are hard and business is tough you’ve got to dig deep and maintain that determination. If you’re determined to overcome those challenges then you will achieve what you ultimately want.

Sometimes though it’s just not right, and if that’s your decision then you should be determined to walk away from that situation. Losing is temporary, but quitting is permanent.

Accompany my three pillars with a positive attitude and hard work ethic and you’ll realise there’s no boundaries when it comes to realising one’s potential.

Who or what inspires you?

My dad was a surfer, my older brother was a surfer and I grew up on Manly Beach so it was a natural progression to go from the sand to the water. Surfing was always in my genetic makeup and my beachside upbringing was an ongoing source of inspiration because I was representing both my family and my hometown.

Following my retirement from surfing I’ve continued to draw inspiration from the people around me. So much so, that in April this year we will launch the first of three trial schools for the 2012 Layne Beachley Workshops For Schools Program. This new mentoring and inspiration workshop for young Australians will provide year round resources for teachers and students to be their personal best.

More recently, through my involvement in the Commonwealth Bank Women In Focus online community, I’ve gained an insight into the support networks that are available to Australian’s online as an ongoing source of inspiration. The Commonwealth Bank Women In Focus community is a great place for Australian women to be inspired, informed and connected with other women in business throughout Australia and around the world and these networks should be utilised more by everyone.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about or just starting out in business?

Firstly it is important to have a very clear goal. Then, surround yourself with a team of people that will help you achieve that goal. Remaining honest with those people and honest with yourself.  Adapt to change because there are always going to be obstacles and challenges that present themselves to you, along the way, requiring you to adapt and continue to change your ways or improve on what you’re doing. Use the tools and people around you for support and guidance; the Women In Focus online community is an example of just one of the resources available to business professionals of all ages and experience. And of course, never give up! Stay focused on your goal, if it means that much to you then you’ll work hard and as long as you don’t give up on it, you will get there.

Read more about Layne on her website

Follow Layne on Twitter 

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