Richie ‘Vas’ Vaculik on The Other Side of Fear – From UFC to Big Wave Surfing

Richie Vas: big wave surfer, UFC fighter, Author, TV host and member of the notorious surf gang Bra Boys – Richie’s story is about second chances. A story about self-discovery, of fighting fear and the pursuit of a fulfilled life.

Richie Vas Vaculik

What I Learned

Some of the best moments of your life are on the other side of fear

  • Mental models and ways of thinking that serve us well in one part of our life doesn’t always serve us well in others. Richie gives the example of how the aggressive ‘all-or-nothing’ approach required to make it as a big wave surfer and MMA fighter, didn’t translate well to other areas of life and how this model of thinking started to take over everything he was doing, especially drinking and partying. The problem ultimately led to a street fight and court case that could’ve put Richie away for 6 years in jail and risked all of his sponsorship deals. 
  • Not everybody gets second chances. Don’t waste them. Richie got off on his criminal charge, yet was being pulled in different directions by his friends and peers; he had the influence of drinking and partying on one side, and the influence and discipline of martial artists on the other. A lot of people who’re given second chances fall back to old habits and ways, Richie made the decision not to.
  • Don’t make decisions just to impress others.  A lot of the trouble Richie got himself into in his early years was a result of him trying to impress his friends. Richie always felt the need to prove himself – this also is why he took on the biggest waves and said yes to so many fights when perhaps he shouldn’t of. 
  • Stay hunting and on the right radars. Richie didn’t win UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter  (TUF) yet was still able to get a UFC contract, he did this by staying in contact with the key fight makers in the UFC, who he met during TUF. Richie kept them updated with all of his progress and when the time came for an Australia based UFC promotion, Richie was the first person they gave the opportunity to. 
  • How to manage pressure and fear. Most fear comes from the fear of failure and the fear of letting other people down. You play out in your head scenarios that haven’t even occurred and may never occur. Richie shares some tips on dealing with pressure, tips he learned through fighting in front of millions of people and working with a sports psychologist:
    • Don’t try and control the uncontrollable
    • Focus on your breathing
    • Focus on the fun and enjoyable parts of the challenge – remember what you love about it and embracing them
    • The Boomerang Effect – what you put out you get back, so put out positive thoughts and focus.
    • Set aside time (20 minutes) a day to permit your mind to let go and visualize all the scenarios that are causing you anxiety, but once that time is up. Stop and move on with your day.
    • Don’t overemphasize the challenge – there’s more to life than just that one moment, make sure you remember to put that into perspective.

Show Notes

Richie Vas Instagram

Book-Bra Boy

Vas Files Podcast

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