S7 Ep06: Resilience is a Gift

Mark Mathews

On this week’s episode of the WarriorU podcast, Bram and Trent are joined by big-wave surfing legend, Mark Mathews. Using his turbulent career and excruciating 2016 injury as a springboard, Mark talks you through the life-changing moments and mindset overhauls that have allowed him to push through adversity. By the end of the episode, you will not only be inspired by Mark’s incredible story of courage and determination, but you’ll also understand how to create and bolster such resilience yourself.

A Glimpse of the Guest

Name: Mark Mathews

What he does: Mark Mathews is a world-leading big wave surfer, a Red Bull sponsored athlete, and the winner of three back-to-back Oakley Big Wave Awards. That said, he’s had his fair share of career roadblocks. While surfing in New South Wales in 2016, he experienced an excruciating wipeout, dislocating his knee and destroying the nerves of his foot. Despite being told by doctors that he would never surf again, he took to the water just fourteen months later. Today, Mark is not only surfing some of the world’s biggest and heaviest waves, he is also inspiring others via keynotes and corporate speaking gigs.

Mark Matthews online: |@markmathews | The Other Side of Fear

Food for Thought:

[7:23] “Diligence and hard work and how much they want to win at something is definitely going to push them a long way. But if you don’t have that sort of talent and ability level young – you can still make it, but it’s going to be a whole lot harder than for those freakishly talented.”

Top Tips from this Episode

Mark’s resiliency checklist:

1. Direction – know what you want and what you want to avoid. These motivators will be what allows you to overcome fear and get you through the hard times. “When I went down to surf, I was terrified. But those motivations took me over the edge.”

2. Support – have the right people around you. “The people you have around you can make or break your ability to deal with difficult things, and make or break your ability to access potential and where you’re going to go in life.”

3. Physical – diet, exercise and sleep allow you to physically prepare and deal with life’s challenges.

4. Mental hacks – ancillary skills such as mindfulness help you to manage anxiety and fear, and become more resilient.

Fear as the greatest gift: For Mark, reaching your potential is all about finding the balance between fear and comfort. Difficulties will always be a part of life. Rather than avoiding challenges, seek meaningful reasons to take them on. “It’s about finding the perfect dose of those things to motivate you to take the right actions, but that isn’t paralyzing.”

Episode Highlights

How meeting a young boy changed Mark’s life: Mark takes the WarriorU audience through the emotional journey of his 2016 injury and the all-encompassing depression that followed. That was until he met Jason – a teenage quadriplegic who helped Mark discover gratitude and perspective. [30:30] “Within ten days, all the infections from the surgery wounds were gone. Now that I felt happy and lucky, it changed the way my body healed.”

A lesson in taking opportunities: Far from a ‘natural talent’, Mark says his career was developed by finding his niche and making the most of opportunities when they presented themselves. At [8:33], he discusses how a lucky break with a surfing magazine allowed him to create a career he might never have had. [5:32] “I saw an opening where I could forge a career in the sport of surfing by surfing waves no one else would surf.”

Top quotes:

[15:38] “There’s probably a whole lot more in you, that you don’t even know about until the situation forces it out of you.”

[33:54] “Resiliency is just an ability to deal with life’s difficulties.”

[35:59] “You are exponentially more resilient if you decide to take on the fear. But the only way you can decide to take on something stressful, is if you know what you want.”


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