BOOK REVIEW: Belonging

REVIEW: Vicky, FCN Founder

A book that makes you fall in love with being a coach again!  We coach because we love our sport and we coach because we love developing people; Belonging reminds us of just that.  It weaves author Owen Eastwoods understanding of our own evolutionary story with his ancestral wisdom from his Maori heritage.  It’s beautifully written with insights from sports such as rugby, cricket and dancing and is broken up into practical smaller sections in each themed chapter. 

Author Owen Eastwood is a Performance Coach engaged by high performing organisations to develop a competitive advantage in their leadership and team culture. Owen has worked with the England football team and the British Olympic team. His previous diverse experience around the world includes the Command Group of NATO, professional ballet, corporate leadership teams and the South African cricket team.

Belonging explores the concept that no matter the goal, culture must come first.  As coaches and administrators, we live in a World where results matter, medals are the only goal and winning is paramount.  The high performance World has forgotten what being part of something really means, it has forgotten that we are all here to be the best we can, and enjoy the sport we are in.  

This book takes you on a wonderful journey through ancient and modern world’s and how learning from our ancestors can catapult us into a happier, safer and more satisfied way of succeeding in our sport.  Through the lens of Maori traditions, Owen Eastwood shares examples from his time working in a variety of elite environments and shares how the concept of belonging affected athletes such as Michael Owen (English footballer), Dan Carter (New Zealand Rugby Player) and Sergei Polunin (one of the worlds best known Ballet Dancers).

A constant them throughout the book is whakapapa – a beautiful Maori philosophy that places oneself in a wider context: “Each of us are part of an unbreakable chain of people going back and forward in time.  Back to our first ancestor at the beginning of time and into the future to the end of time.  Each of us in this chain of people have our arms interlocked with those on either side of us.  We are unbreakable.  Together, immortal.  Whakapapa points a finger at us and tells us, you will not be judged by your money or celebrity or sense of self pride…you will be judged by what you did for your tribe.”

If you’ve ever struggled with the idea of developing your own coaching philosophy, or are feeling a little lost as to why you do what you do, give this book a read.  And once finished, take a step back and reflect on how your own work and interactions with your sport needs a whakapapa overhaul.