Where do you Belong?

Hands from different people on table Blog Zilvold Coaching & Training on belonging
7 min read

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My mountain is the Paaschberg; my river is the Oude Ijssel, my father’s name was Adriaan, and my mother’s name was Ellen. I live with my wife Angelika and my sons in Rotterdam. My parents grew up in North Holland, and I was born in Suriname. I lived in Luxembourg until I was 18. Then in the Netherlands, America, France, and Germany. Our family comes from the village of Silvolde in the eastern part of The Netherlands. My name is Freek Zilvold. I facilitate so that others can uplift themselves and experience more love.


The paragraph above is the introduction that I give during a Haka workshop. This is my basic version of a Pēpeha and is part of a Mihimihi (a formal greeting in Māori). It contains just a part of my Whakapapa. A Whakapapa (pronounced far-ka-pa-pa) is a recitation of your lineage, your genealogy.

The genealogy of the Van Silvolde family, dating back to the 13th century, has been recorded in two books, and a third has to be written. There is much more to tell about the family and the in-laws, but I have summarized my origins for the workshop. I am not a Māori, and my Whakapapa and Pēpeha have not been verified by a Māori who is specialized in this special recitation of one’s past.

Genealogy of Van Silvolde (Books 1 and 2) by Drs. E.A.N. van der Kuip-Zilvold, self-published)

It’s about being clear about where I come from, who I am, where I belong and where I’m going. I am convinced that others will be able to place and understand me better.

More importantly, I am aware that I am not alone. I am alone in front of a group of 10 to 200 people. Still, by presenting my Whakapapa, I know that my family and the people who care about me and support me (including my friends, church, teachers, guides, colleagues, and clients) stand behind me. Even if they are no longer on this earth. I then feel the strength, energy, enthusiasm, confidence, and love of everyone behind me. I also feel connected to everyone. It is my responsibility to receive this power and use it for what I am doing at the time for the benefit of others.

According to psychologist Michael Gervais, a Whakapapa enables you to have a mindful approach to life. Both on a personal and professional level.


We all have a basic psychological need to belong and be connected. It gives us security, confidence, protection, and the feeling that we are accepted and that we’re part of a shared purpose. Our body then produces the hormone endorphins when there are social connections.

I felt alone when I left the engineering firm I had belonged to for 14 years. Customers and colleagues didn’t call me, lab technicians didn’t ask what to do, and there was no more conversation with the friendly colleagues at the coffee machine. Of course, I had chosen to leave this tribe for a new adventure, but my purpose had disappeared because of this ‘divorce.’

>Reading tip: My 5 Main Lessons which I Have Learned at an Engineering Firm

Who are you?

Then there was a search for who I am. Of course, I was there for my family for the next three years when we lived in Germany. But to take care of a family is not really a purpose. Rather, it is a WHAT. A WHAT is something you do, and in 2011 it was to take care of my family. I live my WHY no matter who I am with: my family or colleagues.

->Reading tip: Now what?

The search for who I am started much earlier in my life, but it only became tangible when I returned to the Netherlands in 2014. If you know yourself, then you know better what is good for you (and what is not). You are better able to make choices in both professional and personal areas.

A revelation was the rediscovery of my values and my character strengths. They enabled me to do and develop those things that energize me and put me in a flow.

Finally, I discovered my WHY. Like my values and my character strengths, I always felt them. By researching and identifying them, it was beginning to come alive. I discovered what I want, and that is to live my WHY. A WHY is the contribution that has an effect on the world. A WHY is always action-oriented, infinite, and positive.

->Reading tip: How to find your WHY

Your WHY and that of your tribe

Everyone has a WHY. Also, the organization where you work. If you and your tribe take the time to discover your WHY, you can make better decisions. This means that a tribe can attract the right employees (and customers!) who feel connected by the WHY of the tribe. It also means finding the right organization that fits your WHY. I am convinced that you’ll next get tribes or groups where people feel they belong.

And where do I belong?

I feel strongly connected to my family, church, colleagues, and clients. I also belong to a large group of people (souls) who want to be a light in this world. These people have a positive outlook on life, want to work together in harmony, are enthusiastic about their goals, live in love, and support others in difficult times.

The quote below from the German monk Anselm Grün resonates strongly with me:

We are here on earth to make the world a little brighter, warmer, and more human.

— Anselm Grün

Discover your WHY or Whakapapa

Your WHY is a Mihimihi and a powerful summary of your Whakapapa, your identity. It is easier for an organization to make a Whakapapa because most organizations are about 100 years old. In a WHY session, we look at important experiences in your life or during the existence of an organization. These are themes where contributions and effects on the world are identified. A WHY provides energy, direction, motivation, and perseverance. Do you want to discover yours or the one of your tribe?

Contact us today to get acquainted and discover how a WHY can help you!

Who are you, where do you belong, and what is your Whakapapa? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

Belonging, Owen Eastwood
Vind je Waarom, Simon Sinek
Master Your Mindset, Michael Pilarczyk

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