About the Book
A former Olympic rower reflects on his evolution from ultra-competitive athlete to supportive coach and offers his game-changing thoughts on achieving success.
Once the embodiment of an aggressive athlete, Jason Dorland used to identify himself according to the results of his competitions—winner or loser. The elite rower was raised with an “in-it-to-win-it” attitude and was trained to think of every competitor as an enemy. It took a devastating loss at the 1988 Olympic Games to shatter this destructive way of thinking, and it took the advice of middle-distance runner Robyn Meagher (who would later become Dorland’s wife) to help re-shape his views on what it truly means to win—both in sport and in life.
When he retired from competition and became an elite rowing coach, Dorland knew he had to produce results but vowed to adopt a more process-based approach to competition than the one he had been taught. It was a radical shift that was not always welcomed by the sporting community. However, the outcomes were nothing short of extraordinary. Dorland found that by creating an emotionally safe environment for his athletes, they felt free to fail yet ultimately achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. Pulling Together reflects on Dorland’s coaching philosophy, the lessons his sport has taught him, and how those lessons can be applied both on and off the playing field.
"Pulling Together is Jason Dorland's way of combining his love story for rowing with his love for Canada and, ultimately, for his wife and the inspiration she has given him. The book takes the reader through a memorable journey of the rites of passage, not only of the coach as he focuses on personal growth, but of his student athletes as they grow through the discipline and dedication of sport within academia. While I am a believer in the Canadian High Performance sport system, I also appreciate that the voices of challenge, including Jason’s, are heard as we continue to grow, improve, and build future generations of athletes." —Lorraine Lafrenière, CEO, Coaches Association of Canada
'I see sport as a paradox. On one side, the winner takes all. Winning is delightful, yet often difficult. After overcoming the challenges, being the best is undeniably fun. That said, if you win or lose, the end moment of high-performance sport is remarkably short. As I age, mature, and reflect, I have to agree with many of Dorland's points. It's who you become on the journey that matters most. What kind of character traits are we nurturing in young adults through sport? How are we using sport to make the next generation better than we could ever be? This book will help you wade through the philosophy of coaching to find an answer that is right for you." —Adam Kreek, Olympic champion and management consultant, KreekSpeak Business Solutions
"Through his coaching philosophy, Jason captures the pure essence of living in the moment. Pulling Together reveals an honest look into a life story of what courage, grit, and a powerful mindset can really accomplish through even the most challenging circumstances. As a reader, one is continuously self-reflecting and processing new takeaways for coaching and life. Pulling Together is a must-read for all coaches who want to understand the real meaning of developing young women and men of the next generation through sport." —Dr. Beth McCharles, performance coach
"Pulling Together is an inspiring and genuine testament to what can be achieved through positive, athlete-centered coaching and a focus on process. Dorland’s athletes gain so much more from his mentorship than just wins and medals." —Greg Hughes, Head Coach, Heavyweight Men, Princeton University
"The culture in sport of ‘win-at-any-cost’ is something many of us have experienced, to our detriment, but few of us talk about. All athletes, coaches, and parents should read Pulling Together, as Jason Dorland bravely speaks out against our broken system while offering an alternative: a culture in sport based on love and support." —Stephanie Dixon, seven-time Paralympic champion, Canada Sports Hall of Fame
"In the world of sport, we treat young people like adults. We start them younger, we push them harder, and we want them to specialize sooner. Having spent more than twenty-five years in high-performance sport, it’s clear to me we are consistently ignoring the “why”—why a young person competes, and what motivates her or him to be their best. Jason Dorland has once again told a moving and compelling story about the joy found in challenging oneself. For me, this is mandatory reading as both a coach and an athlete." —Duff Gibson, Olympic and World champion (skeleton); founder, Dark Horse Athletic
"A well told story that brings to life the journey of a coach and a group of athletes and shows how, through navigating adversity and striving for success, all are found standing a head taller. Jason shares a compelling illustration of the enduring power of sport to unlock human potential." —Terry Dillon, two-time Olympic rower, CEO of Rowing Canada
"Jason’s story is about much more than rowing. It’s about struggling and learning and realizing that all too often the most formidable competition is…you. No matter what you’re trying to improve—times, scores, standards, or sales—a destructive attitude about competition is self-defeating. Pulling Together is a better way. —James McKeough, vice-president, Copylab
"Many coaches are so focused on the techniques and tactics of a sport that they forget the number one rule: you coach a person, not a sport. When you connect with your athletes, and they know you are in it for them, they will perform their very best. Pulling Together shares a lifetime of lessons learned from an Olympic athlete and elite coach so that you can create an environment that will help your athletes reach their potential in sport and life." —John O’Sullivan, founder, Changing the Game
"In this inspirational and engaging book, Jason Dorland shares life-changing lessons on achieving one's true and full potential. This book will help make you a better leader, athlete, and person." —Dr. Jim Afremow, author of The Champion's Mind and The Champion's Comeback