Meet The Locals: Trevor Hendy
Retiring from professional sport in 1998, Trevor Hendy realised that the key to happiness is “winning on all levels, rather than winning at all costs.”
Now an author, life coach and motivational speaker, Trevor’s 12 week Boot Camp for the Soul inspire people to live their best lives.
I met up with Trev to chat about life beyond the podium, his greatest achievements, plans for the 100th anniversary of Surfers Paradise Surf Lifesaving Club and how riding waves can be a metaphor for life.
Hi Trev, you’re a busy man, thanks for finding time to chat. You have lived on the Gold Coast since you were a kid, what do you love about it?
I love that this city is in the middle of a band of nature. We are nestled between the Pacific Ocean – the most beautiful, powerful force on the planet, and the beautiful hinterland. The creeks that come out through Nerang, Tallebudgera, Currumbin and Tweed are major river systems, so we’re very much surrounded by water and nature, and I love that about the Gold Coast. I think it influences us – even when we don’t realise it – because it keeps everybody feeling a little bit more refreshed, a little bit lighter in their mood and a little bit freer and easier in their demeanour.
When you were growing up did you dream of becoming a great sportsman?
No, not at all. I joined the nippers when I was eight and cried on my first day at the idea of competing against other people. It wasn’t till I was around fourteen and started clashing with the alpha males at the surf club, that a switch tripped inside me. I thought, the winner wouldn’t be treated like this. The winner would get respect, the champion gets what he wants. And all of a sudden, I wanted to win.
Before that, I just loved sport. I loved playing with my friends and trying to improve myself. I wasn’t dreaming of being any great sports person, that was ignited from a sense of feeling small and unworthy and wanting to change that feeling. Ultimately that happened, but then I had to go back and re address that feeling and go, hang on a second, that’s not a healthy motivation.
I realised I hadn’t become more worthy, it was more that I was pretending that I was worthy. So, it’s an interesting concept that drove me to great heights in sport, but I later had to stop and face that feeling in myself and let it go.
So, becoming world champion wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
At a deeper, hidden level, I still felt insecure. Winning hadn’t changed that. It was about knowing that I was enough, without needing to win. Once I realised that, then I got some peace in my life and I started winning on all levels, rather than winning at all costs.
Was it this realisation that led you to quit competing at 27 and turn to coaching?
The last few races I won from a very still, peaceful place and I realised that many other people were going through the same thing as I was. So, I felt that my next big challenge in life wasn’t to win myself, it was to help others to win, but in a way that was true to themselves at a heart level. To race from a place of stillness and inner certainty rather than a place of desperation. It started with athletes, but then businesses and leaders and all sorts of different people. So, it was just a natural transition through all those stages. From an Ironman to a coach, to a life coach, soul coach, truth seeker and a truth speaker. And I am still exploring.
You launched your 12 week online transformational program, Boot Camp for the Soul in 2012, what was the inspiration?
Certain people had helped me to understand that I was carrying patterns and habits from a young age – from a time when I didn’t feel understood, loved or validated. And that the things I did to get that validation were somewhat dysfunctional. When I released all that stuff, my life changed dramatically, and I felt a calling to help other people experience the same thing.
I wrote the Boot Camp for the Soul to give people a point in the right direction, so they could see their old patterns and release them. And also to help them connect with those concepts that would help them relax. I know that all people have their own answers, they don’t need me to sit with them to find them, they just need a few viewpoints to help them open up to the truth of it.
How has the response been?
It’s been huge. It’s amazing how many people have sent me letters saying thank you. One man even wrote and said, “Bootcamp for the Soul saved my marriage and I didn’t even do the course, my wife did!” The program is being redeveloped on the website at the moment, and will be launched again soon.
Your mantra is, ‘There are only perfect conditions.’ Do you see surfing/board riding as a metaphor for life?
When I used to rock up to a carnival, I would see what the conditions were for the day and that’s what I had to race with. So, if I looked at it thinking, these aren’t my perfect conditions I like it smaller or I like it bigger, I would already be saying to myself, I’m not ready for this. But I wanted to learn how to perfect the Ironman race, so I needed to be able to do it in any conditions and in whatever order was drawn out of the hat.
What's my property worth?
With a shift in mindset, I was able to say to myself, the conditions are always perfect, the order is perfect. That allowed me to be present, aware and clear, to embrace the conditions rather than resist them. In two years, I went from never winning a race to world champion.
It’s the same with life. By embracing what’s happening, rather than hoping for things to be a certain way, you bring out the best out in yourself. When I wake up in the morning and the bank balance isn’t as healthy as I think it should be, or hear about the latest lockdown or the government’s decision on this or that, it’s like okay, this is perfect if I want to be the best version of myself. This is a chance for me to express myself even under challenging conditions. Then I just need to show up.
Any advice for a teenager aspiring to be a professional sports person?
Absolutely! As a young athlete, you must maintain that connection with your sport. Why do you love it, what do you love about it, what does it bring out in you? And why, when you’re playing it, sometimes the rest of the world melts away and you just feel like yourself for a few moments? Maintain and explore that connection the whole way through, and that’s ‘the zone.’ Then learn how to live in that connection and how to extend it outside of your sport into your relationships, and everything will work out exactly as it should.
Whether you end up world champion or Wimbledon champion, or being the superhero on the stage for a moment, it doesn’t matter. Because your sport will show you everything it needs to show you for as long as it does, and then it’ll propel you into the rest of your life. And never think that it’s there to get you something. It’s what you’re learning from it. What you can give to it. And that’s what makes it magical.
What has been your most rewarding sporting moment?
When my son TJ and I won the Australian Open Board Rescue Championship together. He was 20 and I was 47. I was the board paddler and had to pick him up as fast as I could. The moment had nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with connection. And it was all about love, all about a journey I had walked with my son for 20 years.
When he was born, I was off track and a bit lost in my life, but when I held him and looked into those big brown eyes, he inspired me to be a better man, to be the father he needed. My whole life changed because of that. And 20 years later, when I picked him up in the board rescue, as the man I needed to be, a magical moment happened between the two of us and we created a bit of history. No one’s ever done that as a father and son and so that’s like tenfold better than anything else that I’ve ever achieved in Ironman racing or anything.
And your greatest life achievement?
There’s been moments with clients that I feel they see what they need to see, and walk out the door completely aware of who they are and what they need to let go of, and that feels like the most incredible thing. Probably though, my greatest achievement is having a family and a relationship that is just based in love and connection. I have four children, who I can talk to about absolutely anything, a strong, beautiful relationship with my first wife, and my second wife Jo and I feel like we’re still on our honeymoon, and that’s after 20 plus years together. And none of this came easy, it came from being willing to look at all my own crap.
What’s next? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I am the President of Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club, which will turn 100 in 2025. We want to have 1000 active, healthy aware members – we are currently at 700. So, that’s really one of the big things I’m working on, a community of people that want to help patrol the beach, join the nippers or come and contribute in other ways. We call it the ‘SP love’ (Surfers Paradise love) and we want to bring that into the heart of Surfers Paradise. We want to help redevelop the foreshore and bring families back and make it into a really beautiful place.
Sounds like a great plan Trev, I look forward to getting involved thanks so much for the chat.