Take 10: Barbara Kendall

Take 10: Barbara Kendall

1: What’s your favourite childhood memory?

BARBARA: Some of my best memories are going boating with my family on a 32-foot yacht my Dad had built; we’d go away every weekend. As we sailed down the Tamaki River we’d watch all the familiar landmarks go by ... I remember crawling into my bunk and feeling so happy and excited, knowing that in the morning we’d wake up in a different bay somewhere. I loved the changing landscape. Boating is, I think, one of the most amazing things you can do as a child – and those experiences really set me up for the rest of my life.

2: Do you have an all-time favourite photo?

BARBARA: One of my favourite photos is with my brother and sister when I was about five or six years old. My Dad had made a paddleboard out of plywood and the three of us would hop on and paddle all around the beaches and rocks. We have this one black-and-white shot of the three of us on the board – it just epitomises the adventures we went on.

3: What are the three most important things in your life?

BARBARA: I try to prioritise health and wellbeing (emotional, physical, and mental). If you look after what’s going on in your head and what’s going into your body and get the right amount of exercise, it puts you in such great stead for any other challenge that gets thrown at you. The second thing would be raising my family – trying to raise two confident girls, arming them with as many tools as possible to 
take on the challenges of life. And third would be giving back; whether it’s empowering people or looking after the environment, just making the world a better place wherever and however you can.

4: When you were 10, what were you best at?

BARBARA: I loved dancing – when I heard music, I just couldn’t stop. At primary school I wanted to be involved in anything that included dancing. I continued until I was 17 or 18, and then windsurfing came along, which felt to me a lot like dancing on the water – it was sort of the next extension.

5: What are you reading right now?

BARBARA: I’ve just finished an amazing book called Unleashing Greatness, by sports psychologist David Galbraith, about realising your potential. The book was fascinating to me because it was all the stuff that I did intuitively in my career from early on. It’s so neat to read an expert’s advice about what you should be doing and realise that you’re already doing it! 

6: What’s been your greatest life lesson?

BARBARA: I broke my wrist eight months before the 1992 Olympics – the first games where women’s windsurfing was going to be an event. I was told that I’d never windsurf again; it felt like all my dreams had been shattered. But my injury was a wake-up call – I realised that I’d had an attitude of ego and entitlement about where I was headed. When you’re open and you’re hungry to learn, life is so much better than when you’re shut down and arrogant. So my recovery was a great lesson in attitude and giving it all you’ve got – and how, through that, you get results. 

7: What’s your favourite travel destination? 

BARBARA: I’d say Great Barrier Island is my favourite spot at this stage of my life, but I’m a bit addicted to surfing at the moment, so I really like going anywhere there are good waves!

8: Do you have a personal motto or favourite quote?

BARBARA: One of my favourite quotes is from a US basketball coach; the late John Wooden: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” 

9: Do you make New Year’s resolutions, and if so do you keep them?

BARBARA: I don’t make yearly resolutions; I just regularly look at improving behaviours – things like getting into a routine for exercise or limiting some sort of junk food. I have a list of things I’d like to achieve and I pretty much always pull them off, whether it’s that year or the next year. I always just try to keep learning and keep dreaming.

10: Where were you 10 years ago? And where would you like to be 10 years from now?

BARBARA: Ten years ago I was training for the Olympics and we were in the midst of life with a two-year-old and a six-year-old, which was pretty full-on. I remember being in survival mode a lot of the time – trying to be Super-Mum and exhausting myself! Ten years from now I hope to be sailing in a boat around the islands!