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Home » The Power of Self-Belief: Layne Beachley (Full Transcript)

The Power of Self-Belief: Layne Beachley (Full Transcript)

Full text of world champion surfer Layne Beachley’s talk: The Power of Self-Belief at TEDxStHildasSchool conference.

Best quote from this talk:

“Ultimately it’s choice, not chance, that determines our reality.”

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Layne Beachley – World champion surfer

Good morning.

Am I on? Yes, I’m on! Don’t fall asleep down there, okay girls. You look very comfortable.

So I’m thrilled to be here today, and I’m going to talk about the power of self belief.

So the most magnificent being you will ever be is YOU. And if you’re not going to take my word for it, then maybe take it from Dr. Seuss. Because today you are YOU; it’s truer than true. And there’s no one alive that’s more youer than YOU.

So if you were to open up your mind and believe in yourself a lot more, what would your world look like? If you believed you are magnificent, if you believed in your ability to overcome challenges and obstacles. If you believed in unlimited potential and possibility. And if you believed that you have the ability to shape and create your reality, what would your world look like?

And are you willing to step into that aspect of yourself? Are you willing to give yourself permission to be the best versions of you?

That photo on the screen behind me is the moment I claimed my 7th World Title. I had to step into believing to be the best version of myself. It’s the moment I actually stepped into the history books. I became the most successful female surfer of all time; permission to brag.

I did something that not even the king of surfing Kelly Slater can do. I won six World titles in a row. And so I had to believe in myself. But it’s our self-limiting beliefs that actually create the lives that we live.

And if you want to understand what you believe, you just have to ask yourself: what you want. And then the thought that follows that is actually what you tend to believe. Your yeah, buts, your but ifs, are your beliefs.

Winning my seventh world title taught me a lot about myself. It taught me a lot about getting out of my own way. It taught me a lot about believing in myself. It taught me a lot about trusting in my instincts and ability. And it taught me about trusting in ease and grace.

Because, like you, I used to think that success required a whole lot of struggle and trouble and challenge.

Oprah Winfrey once said, and all thought leaders say this: you don’t manifest what you want; you manifest what you believe.

Now to give you a little bit of background about my life, I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. I actually grew up at a beach called Manly; anyone familiar with Manly Beach? Yes, it’s the most appropriately man-beach in the world.

And I grew up as the only girl surfer down at Manly beach. These photos of me is a four-year old surfing down at Man Town, I refer to it as… this is actually on the harbor side. I’m waiting for the fairies to come in to create boat wave me to surf on.

I started surfing as a four-year old down at Manly and it was a place that I felt truly connected to. The ocean is something I still feel truly connected to. It’s where I resort to every day to get a sense of balance and a sense of freedom.

And so when I started surfing as a four-year old, it wasn’t an environment that was very welcoming, or a place that was very encouraged for women to consider.

And so I started to find a place where I felt comfortable by surrounding myself with people that believed in me, sometimes more than I believed in myself.

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I started surfing as a four-year old right there in the corner of Manly. And then by the time I was six or seven I was paddling out the back on my own and I was dominating the lineup.

But I realized that it was my beliefs that were holding me back. But it was also my beliefs that were actually propelling me forward. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

When I was 8 years old, my dad sat me down and told me I was adopted. And now for anyone in this room that’s ever experienced adoption on any level, from my own personal experience, when my dad told me I was adopted, it was that moment in time that I believed that I wasn’t worthy of love.

I believed I had been rejected by my own mother. I believed that I was worthless, loveless, and I believed I had been abandoned.

That was the belief system that I had in my mind as an 8 year-old. And that gave me a choice, and that’s what obstacles and challenges and setbacks do: they provide you with an opportunity to determine what’s a really important course of action now. What is it that you want to do with this information?

Because when you feel abandoned, when you feel rejected, you have a choice. You can become a victim of your circumstances, or you become a master of your destiny. The choice is yours.

And it’s the choices that you make that determine the realities of your life, or determine the quality of your life.

So I made a choice as an eight-year-old that I’m going to become a world champion. Because I thought if I become a world champion, everyone will love me.

Now I realize it doesn’t work like that, but that is essentially what drove me to become a six-time consecutive world champion. It was that fear of abandonment, that fear of rejection, that fear of being worthless is essentially what drove me to become so successful.

I didn’t allow those setbacks to define me. I didn’t allow those setbacks to hold me back. That was when I clarified my vision that I have to become a world champion.

Now at the time it was anything and everything… anything I was good at, I thought I could become a world champion at. Now obviously my beliefs were a little bit skewed.

I obviously believed in myself a little bit too much. But I had the conviction to clarify what my vision was. And that was to become a world champion.

Now if you want to become successful in anything, here are the three things you have to do.

Number One: you have to be willing to clarify your vision.

Number Two: you have to surround yourself with a great team of people… people who support you, people who believe in you, people who are there to encourage you and people that actually believe in you sometimes more than you believe in yourselves, not the ones that try and drag you down and pull you down and tell you that you can’t, that you won’t, that you never will.

Because I was surrounded by those at Manly. And I refer to those guys as my dream thieves, my life vampires. The guys that would paddle out and growl in my face and harass me in the water and intimidate me, they’d look at me and go, you’re a girl; get out of the water.

And I look back at them and go: what are you doing out here then?

They didn’t like the fact that I stood up for myself and fought for what I believed in. Now I believed I had just as much right to be in the water as they did.

But what gave me the strength and the conviction and the courage to stand up and fight for them and fight for myself was my clarity of vision. I wanted to be a world champion.

Now you become the sum of the top five people you spend the most amount of time with. Do you spend too much time with life vampires and dream thieves? Do you spend too much time with people that want to suck the life out of you? Do you spend too much time with these people that are referred to as flames?

Because if you think about a flame, the more oxygen you give it, the more fuel you deliver to it, the brighter it becomes. So I don’t give these dream thieves and life vampires very much oxygen; I deplete them of oxygen. I deplete them of fuel. I actually remove myself from their presence and spend more time with people who are positive, who are uplifting.

Because for the three guys that were sitting here telling me to get out of the water, there was another one sitting here saying actually I think you’re a really good surfer. I believe in you. Yes you have work to do. Yes you can make it. These people are my honesty barometers. These people are my dream thieves.

Now it’s up to you as to who you want to listen to.

And these are the things that you have to do to achieve a goal. The first thing you have to do is write it down. And when I had established that goal of becoming a world champion, I started penning my goals down. I started writing them down, because science has proven that you have 39% more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down.

These are all measures that you have to take to ensure that you are held accountable for achieving it.

Then you post it somewhere. Now as a kid, there was no social media, there was no Facebook, so I used to post it on my bathroom mirror and my wardrobe. And I had all these daily reminders around my room about what my goals were.

I had my big goal which is to be a world champion, and then I had my smaller goal or the steps that I had to take to achieve that ultimate goal of becoming a world champion.

And these are daily reminders. These are reminders. And are my actions complementing my goal? Are the actions that I’m taking is getting me one step closer to achieving my ultimate dream?

And then lastly, I had to proclaim my goals. Because you’re not actually going to get the best out of yourself until you share what it is you want with others. And if you share your goals, now you’re truly held accountable.

Now these days you can post it on Facebook; you can post it on Twitter and you can be held accountable by millions of people you don’t even know. It’s a little bit daunting.

But share it with the people that are going to support you, not the ones that are going to knock you down.

So when I posted my goals on my windows and my mirrors and I shared my goals with my mentors and my friends and my coaches, I realized that I was increasing the likelihood of achieving my goal.

But I still had that underlying fear of rejection. I still had that underlying fear of abandonment. And growing up in an environment where I’m surrounded by life thieves and dream vampires, surrounded by people that are telling me you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not talented enough, you’re not pretty enough; you’re never going to make it… was frightening, was intimidating.

It was a place where I found myself sometimes cowering in a state of fear and hopelessness. But that’s when I had to rely on the people around me. I had the goal and I had the conviction to proclaim to the world that I’m going to be not only a one-time World champion, I’m going to be a multiple time World champion.

And the amount of people around me that said hang on, you haven’t even won an event yet, quiet down. Pipe down Gidget. Keep it down. I had to rise above that, because it’s our setbacks and our obstacles that provide us with a foundation of resilience. And it’s the resilience that’s going to enable you to overcome these challenges time and time and time again.

When I was a 16 year old, that’s what I decided I’m going to become the world champion surfer. Up until that point I was a world champion tennis player, hockey player, surfer, cricketer. Obviously none of the sports that had money. I wasn’t driven by the dollar, I was driven by my passion to succeed.

And surfing was the one place that I just truly reverted back to. It’s the one place where I just felt so nurtured and connected. It’s one place that I was so passionate about. That’s what drew me back to it.

So announcing to the world as a 16 year old, I’m going to be a world champion held me entirely accountable.

But here’s the other part of the of the plan or the model to achieve your goals. You have to understand what your beliefs are behind it. And it’s your beliefs that dictate or govern your behaviors, your habits. And then it’s your habits that will enable you to achieve your dreams.

But my beliefs at the time sometimes sabotage my outcomes… sometimes my habits were demonstrating a bit of self-sabotage.

So for example, I’m reading my diaries from 1992. I was twenty years old. I’ll let you smart girls do the maths is how old I am now.

And when I was 20 years old, I had this dream still of becoming a world champion, I’d been on the Pro Tour for two years, and I was constantly complaining about being fat.

And see, what you believe you will always seek proof of. And so I was complaining about my body weight. And then there was actions that I was taking to correct that. I was training really hard. I was surfing two to three times a day.

But then after winning a hit, I would reward myself with cheesecake or apple pie. Now is that action supporting my ultimate goal? No. You know what that action is doing; it’s proving what I believe. I’m believing I’m fat and therefore I am actually creating that.

Because I’m constantly seeking proof of what I believe.

Now if you want to know what you believe, have a look at your life. You are all self-fulfilling prophecies, believe it or not.

And if you start using the words, I am which are really powerful, because what you put after them shapes your reality. It changes your life.

Now I use those words to enable me to become a history maker and a record breaker. This is the moment I claimed my sixth consecutive world title.

Now I must admit my first six world titles were driven out of fear. I also believe that I had to passionately dislike my competition to beat them. I used to believe that I had to get everybody out of my way.

Now with someone that has a fear of rejection, I’m actually rejecting people first, or I’m giving them a reason to reject me. Does that make sense? I’m actually seeking what I believe. I’m seeking proof of what I believe.

But I succeeded doing that. But you know what that success did, it cost me my quality of life, it cost me my happiness, and it cost me a lot of friendships that were never being able to rebuild.

It’s really important that you understand that the steps you’re taking are fulfilling your life in a holistic way, not just achieving your goal but making sure that when you’re on your path to success that you’re not stepping on people, you’re actually relying on people. Because all of us are here because we’ve stood on the shoulders of others.

Every successful person has another successful person who has supported them.

To achieve my six consecutive World title required a lot of resilience, a lot of discipline. Because halfway through the year I lost my mojo. I fell into a state of depression. I was in the state of hopelessness and I wasn’t willing to acknowledge it, because we can all go through life thinking everything’s great, everything’s fine, I’m okay. But deep down you know it’s not.

And I had that deep down sense of restlessness and uneasiness. And then one day one of my friends, a guy called Guy Leech, he’s a World Ironman champion. He walked into my house unannounced without a shirt on, which is standard for [latte].

And he actually knocked on my door, walked in, sat himself down and he said, hey Gidge, that was my nickname growing up, and he still calls me Gidget. He’s like hey Gidge, how’s it going?

And I said, yeah great.

He goes, I don’t think so.

Now obviously Leach is one of my honesty barometers. And I said, what do you mean I don’t think so?

And he said, well, you’re really down on yourself. You’re really negative. You’re not motivated. You’re not training. You’re not surfing. There’s something going on. What’s happening?

Like, why aren’t you… why aren’t you surfing? How hard can it be?

And all I could say was thank you. Thank you for bringing to my attention something I’m not willing to bring to my own.

Who in your life brings the best out in you? Who in your life is that honest with you, has that much respect and compassion for you that they’re willing to bring those things to your attention to enable you to get past them and become a bigger, more capable, more confident human being?

Do you have anyone in your life that can do that with you? Because if you do, I suggest you maintain a strong connection with them. And if you don’t, I suggest you find someone, because everyone in our life has somebody that maybe we’re not choosing to listen to.

I chose to listen to Leechy because my desire to become number one in the world, to become a record breaker, to become a history maker, to get out of my own way and fulfill my dream of becoming a multiple time world champion, was way more important than failing.

Are you focusing on losing? Or are you focusing on winning?

And when I say, are you focusing on losing, it actually sounds like this: I’m trying not to lose.

Whereas if you’re using the words, I hope so, I’ll try, I think so, I guess so, there’s no confidence, there’s no conviction, there’s no belief in those words.

I am, I can, I will, I trust, I believe… these are all words of belief and conviction. These are all words that will fuel you towards future success.

The day I won my sixth consecutive world title was overwhelming, because I was actually sitting in the water. I’d gone through months of preparation and planning. And 15 minutes before the final, 15 minutes before I was about to submit myself in the history books, I’m sitting in the water.

And this is what the internal dialogue sounds in my head: I’m tired; I’m sick of the roles and responsibilities of being a world champion. I’m fed up with the expectations of my shoulder. I’m tired of being victimized. I’m tired of the intrusion into my life. I’m just fed up. So what am I doing?

I’m talking myself out of success. I’m self-sabotaging my moment, and I am actually getting in my own way and preventing myself from achieving my goal. And so many of us do this on a day-to-day basis.

So what did I have to do?

The only way you can change your beliefs is to become aware of them. And I had to become aware of the words that I was using in my mind: I’m tired; I’m fed up; I’m a victim; poor me… is really not the foundations to achieve them.

So I had to become aware of what I was saying and flip it and use words I am in a positive way. I am going to get out of my own way. I am going to trust in my instincts. I am going to trust in my ability. I am good enough. I am going to believe in myself. And I am going to catch this next wave and I am going to be a six times consecutive world champion.

Now the great thing about our subconscious mind is it cannot differentiate between what’s real and what’s imagined. So don’t underestimate the power of visualization. I visualized every aspect of this victory. I visualized what bikini I’d be waring. I visualized what hand I’d hold the trophy in. I visualized how the salt would feel in my skin and I visualized what the champagne would taste like once it’s been sprayed in my face.

I visualized every component of it, because I wanted to manifest it. What you think about expands… so become aware of what you’re thinking about, and if it’s a reality that you don’t like, then start thinking something different. But you can’t change it until you become aware of it.

I’m proud of the fact that I was able to get out of my own way and stop sabotaging my beliefs by changing my habits and my behaviors. But I can’t do that until I become aware of what my beliefs are.

My ultimate goal to become successful was to actually be able to make a positive difference. From humble beginnings growing up in Manly Beach to becoming a multiple time world champion and leaving a lasting legacy has enabled me to create my own foundation called The Aim For The Stars Foundation. I’m extremely grateful for the girls at this school today for supporting the foundation and raising money for it today.

It provides financial and moral support for young girls to dare to dream, pursue their passion and aspire to achieve. Over the last 13 years, we’ve invested over $700,000 into young girls and women to invest in their own future and fulfill their own potential.

Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on someone else’s life. When you say you want to lead by example, choose the word positive before it. Choose the word positive example. Leave a lasting legacy, believe in yourselves.

Surround yourself with people that believe in you more than you believe in yourself. And never give up on your dreams, because they never give up on you.

Ultimately it’s choice, not chance, that determines our reality. If you want to change your current reality, please start making different choices.

Thank you.

Resources for Further Reading:

From Stress to Resilience: Raphael Rose at TEDxManhattanBeach (Transcript)

Resilience as a Key to Success: Elke Geraerts (Transcript)

5 Limiting Beliefs That Hold You Back by TD Jakes (Transcript)

Why We Are Wrong When We Think We Are Right: Chaehan So (Transcript)


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