This week’s conversation is with Mark Mathews, a world-class big wave surfer, Red Bull Athlete and Surf Contest Director.

He’s made a living at the intersection of danger and excitement and knows all too well the crippling grasp of fear.

While in Tasmania, fifteen feet in front of a cliff in cold, shark infested waters, Mark hit a reef and instantly blacked out. Terror engulfed every inch of his being. Neck braced and hospital-ridden, he didn’t know if he could ever surf again.

At that moment, Mark made a decision never to allow fear to overpower him again.

Mark has deconstructed, fine-tuned, and personalized emotion and resilience techniques to successfully strengthen his mindset and sustain long term performance.

These techniques have helped him win an unprecedented three consecutive Oakley Big Wave Awards and cement him as one of the best big waves surfers in the world.

In this conversation, we discuss the strategies Mark’s developed to overcome fear and how you can apply them in your own life.

And keep in mind – this is someone who surfs some of the biggest waves know to mankind – waves as big as 80+ feet.

Mark believes that conquering fear starts with being aware and in-tune with what your motivations are – you’ve got to want the result on the other side more than you fear doing what it takes to get there.

“The framework that makes humans happy is a never-ending journey towards a meaningful goal. The path needs to border order and chaos, where it’s difficult enough to keep you interested, but you’re able to manage the fear with your skill set.”

In This Episode:

  • What he’s currently working on: Finding the motivation to keep challenge himself
  • Where his stress comes from… expectations
  • How he’s gotten better at managing stress.. doing the work to understand who is
  • The 5 big personality traits, where does he fit in?
  • The excitement that comes with big wave surfing and the cost – finding himself not stimulated outside of surfing
  • How he manages burnout and fatigue
  • Why he does well with risk & fear
  • The reason he believes your view of success and fear are directly related
  • The relationship between pain and purpose
  • What happens when you’ve got your purpose right but it’s not going to plan?
  • His strategies for facing down emotional states that don’t serve him well
  • Who is the best big wave surfer on the planet?
  • What is he searching for?
  • It all comes down to…
  • How he defines mastery


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | SpotifyStitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS




“The fundamental starting point to deal with fear is you’ve got to want it more than you should fear it. You’ve got to want the result on the other side or you’ve got to want the experience that you’re going to have when you overcome that fear, more than you fear doing what it takes to get there.”

“The mastery part of what I do is mastering managing fear and the stress. Other people don’t want to do it consistently because it’s scary, not because they can’t do it technically. It’s average-level surfing, with high-level mastery of fear and anxiety.”

“What I did to keep up with the more talented surfers out there was surround myself with a really talented team. The best photographers, filmers, and water safety crew. Having them allowed me to be more successful, manage more stress, and deal with more fear.”

“The journey towards mastery is the fulfilling part. Not the moment that you’ve mastered something, or the moment you’ve won, because once you do that, the following day you’re going to be like, ‘What do I do next? It’s over.’”

“When I’m out surfing, chasing big waves, it’s constant progression towards a meaningful goal that scares me enough to be super exciting. I can build my skillset along the way. The byproducts of that framework are happiness and presence.”

“The starting point for overcoming fear is desire, that want to do it. It starts with three pretty simple things: What does success look like? Why do you want to succeed? And then who’s going to help you get there?”


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Professional Big Wave Surfer |

Mark Mathews is a professional big wave surfer and motivational speaker. He’s surfed professionally since 2002.