professional development

Layne Beachley on the power of mentoring

Women's Agenda /

Layne Beachley is the most successful female surfer in history, having been named ASP World Champion seven times.

She credits much of her success to her mentors and the support of her local community, including the $3000 a former employer once gifted her to get overseas for international events.

Today, she runs her own foundation, Aim For The Stars, offering scholarships to young, talented women who need a little extra help. She believes all successful women have a responsibility to give back to those behind them. As she say: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

In the below Q&A she shares her experiences with mentoring, including her top tips on how to be a great mentor.

Many former world champions shared valuable knowledge with me including four-time World Champion Wendy Botha, two-time World Champion Tom Carroll and World Champion Pauline Menczer.

The 1990 Women’s World Champion Pam Burridge and her husband Mark took me under their wing and taught me valuable lessons around fitness training, surfboards and equipment, traveling and competition strategy.

The best mentors are the ones who have what you want, and are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. They’re the ones who want to avoid you making the same mistakes as them, and help in fast tracking your future success.

I have had several mentors throughout my life and all of them have supported me through one crisis or another.

Sports commentator Darrell Eastlake encouraged me to persevere through tough times in the early days when I wanted to quit and get a “real job.” My personal trainer Rob Rowland Smith was a wonderful mentor and honesty barometer who held me accountable for my actions and prevented me from quitting the year before I won my first world title. World Ironman Champion Guy Leech also played a monumental role in supporting me through a dark period, enabling me to re-write history and win my 6th consecutive world title. My surf coach of 20 years, Steve Foreman, has always been there to pick me up and support me through crushing defeats. But they have also all been there to share in my greatest victories!

From experience, I know I would not be where I am today without the guidance, support, feedback  and friendship of all the mentors in my life. We become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with, so choose your friends wisely.

Mentors provide a fresh perspective, strategic discipline and foster the fulfilment of potential through continuous personal and professional development.

Our values govern our behaviours. As an organisation, Aim For The Stars values Philanthropy, Meaningfulness, Integrity and Determination and we also value this in all of our scholarship recipients. We focus on delivering more value every year through our wrap-around packages of brand building, goal setting and leadership development. Our scholars can then go back into their local communities and shine a light of inspiration for other, and help motivate others dream big, pursue their passion and aspire to achieve.

I am where I am today thanks largely to the support of people and organisations in my local community. From my local surf shop and pizza shop, to another empathetic employer who gifted me $3000 to pay for my travel to several competitive events, my community was a pillar of support and integral to my success on the world stage. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to give back and prevent others from enduring the same level of hardship and challenge that I did. I want to make it easier and more enjoyable for other women to succeed.

As successful women, It’s our duty of care to support other females to fulfil their potential and become beacons of inspiration for future generations. What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.

I mentor former AFTS recipient and five-time world BMX champion Caroline Buchanan and aspiring world champion surfer Tayla Hannak. I became Tayla’s mentor through the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame scholarship program and she is one of the first surfers I have “officially” mentored.

1. Listen, Listen and Listen. We all want to be heard so a good mentor must be a good listener.

2. Honesty is the best policy. Being honest with each other is paramount as all relationships are built on a foundation of trust. As a mentee, sometimes its tough to hear what you don’t want to hear but it can be the fastest way to overcoming challenge and creating sustained success.

3. Empathy and understanding are essential to creating a solid relationship that must always be focussed on the mentee to enable them to develop to their fullest potential.

This article was originally published on Women’s Agenda.

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