The Inertia Senior Editor
He's back. It'll be a long road back, but he's on it.

He’s back. It’ll be a long road back, but he’s on it.


The Inertia

Last December, Owen Wright nearly died. Initially, it wasn’t as dramatic as, say, Mick Fanning’s shark attack, but the wave(s) at Pipeline that took him out turned out to be much worse.

Just before the trials for the Billabong Pipe Masters sounded the horn, Wright was out surfing. After hitting his head and enduring a multiple wave hold down, he decided that he wasn’t feeling all that great. He staggered up the beach to the Rip Curl house to take a nap–decidedly not a good thing to do when one has a concussion. Soon after, he was taken to hospital, where the situation was revealed as much more serious than previously thought. Owen, with bleeding on the brain and swelling, was forced to pull out of the 2016 title race, and for the time being, surfing altogether. He disappeared from the public eye and got on the long road to his recovery. Just a few days ago, he surfed again for the first time since his injury. Here’s what he had to say about it on Instagram:

Sharing my journey – I went for my first surf a couple days ago. It was the funnest thing in the world. Funny thing is… I couldn’t get to my feet. So I just laid there. It was about knee high and the drop was.. well there was none but it felt like I was dropping into 10ft Teahupoo. I finished the wave and I was so stoked I let out a hoot and claimed it and high fived Kita.

5 mins later I was on the beach and started to think about what I actually did and started comparing it to what I used to be like or what everybody else was doing out there… and started to question why cant I….this I found started to ruin my experience and change how I really felt.

It made me realise that self improvement is necessary but to focus on comparison of what used to be, what others can do or why you’re not good enough is detrimental to the now; negative emotion in yourself will hinder improvement and happiness. Simple statement …. challenging to practice.




  • Jussi Tarvainen

    I hope you’ll see the value of the insight Owen’s had. It is the exact thing most surfers miss that cause them to never fully recover, lead to lack of self confidence and leave your feeling frustrated and stuck on a plateau.

    The way Owen is defining his injury and the self fulfilling mental attitude he has about his recovery is a championship mindset.

    Most surfers go through what Owen is experiencing except not at the level of trauma he had. Yet most never have the realization of “what you compare yourself against “will define your motivation, progress and improvement as an athlete.

    You know, you go out there to score a wave of a life time and you have this ideal image of what it will be like. Or your goal is to win a contest, get to the WCT or QS and what it will be like. But then you come up short or reach it and still are left to feel empty, disappointed and angry at yourself.

    You ever wonder why is that?

    One of the biggest mental progression blocks you go through that sabotage your own progression, is the misconception of the difference between a vision and a goal.

    Your vision is like the horizon line. It’s where you are headed to, lighting your way to your goals like a flash light in the dark. But we both know you can never reach the horizon. It’s nothing tangible. It’s just a mental construct. A visual clue to keep you oriented.

    Your vision might be ten years away from you and by the time you get there it has moved forward. You can never reach your vision. No matter how you chase it always stays out of the reach. It’s like a goal that always keeps moving further. Like a toddler who’s just learned to run and runs after a ball, accidentally kicking it when trying to grab it.

    If you are comparing your success against your vision you set yourself up for a loooot of frustration, dissappoinment and anger. I’ve worked with plenty of athletes who make this mistake (myself included) and it’s one of the major mental blocks that hold them back from becoming the best they can be.

    Goals on the other hand are things you can realistically achieve in a fairly short time frame. Reaching a goal gives you a boost of motivational energy that keeps you going and setting new goals. But if you don’t recognize your own successes because your eyes are on the horizon, you don’t get the boost of energy and stoke. Imagine going for a road trip and not stopping by a gas station to fill up your tank. It’s a looong and frustrating road to walk to the gas station when you run out of gas. Most loose their passion and give up because they don’t know how to properly manage goals.

    Notice your goals, celebrate them and get rewarded with the stoke you get from them by comparing them to where you came from. Don’t compare your achievement to where you are going. It will inherently make it look insignificant.

    If you compare yourself to your vision, what you want to achieve or what someone else has reached you sabotage your own motivation and speed of progression.

    You can learn more mental tricks how to build yourself stronger from the inside and have it translate to your outside from “3 Accelerated Injury Recovery Hack” ebook.

    What Owen shared in his message is crucial to staying stoked and making progress so make sure to take action on that and you’ll have much more fun out there!

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