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  • Tom Goldstein

What is your legacy and your impact?

A fire for the future
Marko Horvat - UnSplash

The concept of "thinking seven generations ahead" is believed to originate from the Iroquois (also known as Haudenosaunee) culture, a group of Indigenous people in North America considered by some to be the most ancient democratic cultures in the world. The principle, also known as the "Seventh Generation Principle," encourages the current generation to live and work for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future. It is a way to ensure long-term stewardship of resources and the environment.

This is important for several reasons:

  1. Sustainability: The principle encourages us to adopt sustainable practices that do not deplete resources for future generations. This extends to all resources, from natural resources to social and economic ones.

  2. Long-term Thinking: It encourages us to plan and act for the long term rather than seeking immediate benefits or solutions. This mindset can lead to more balanced and thoughtful decision-making.

  3. Environmental Responsibility: This principle has particular relevance to environmental stewardship. Given the current concerns about climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, thinking about the impact of our actions on future generations is more critical than ever.

  4. Social Justice: It also underlines the importance of ensuring justice and equity for future generations. This includes avoiding actions that might lead to future conflict, inequality, or hardship.

The "Children's Fire" is a concept derived from the traditions of certain Native American tribes, which involves a small fire being lit at council meetings to symbolize future generations, reminding the decision-makers to consider the impacts of their decisions on children, seven generations into the future.

Both principles underline a profound respect for the interconnectedness of all life, emphasizing that our actions today have lasting consequences for future generations. They encourage us to adopt an ethical approach to decision-making that prioritizes sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice.

The environment holds a special place in my heart and plays a crucial role in my work as a coach. To me, it's more than just a backdrop for life; it is a vibrant, interconnected web of existence that sustains us and future generations. It is a source of inspiration, a teacher, and a space for reflection and healing.

As I continue to grow as a coach, and to be in service to others, this approach of Top of Form considering the impact of decisions on the wider world and on future generations resonates deeply with my own perspectives on life. As a coach, I often help my clients towards clarifying their values and aligning their values and actions. When this means stepping outside their own personal needs and desires we start to work with the wider system.

When we explore the alignment of their values and actions, the focus on future generations can be a guiding principle. This reflection and understanding can lead to the setting of goals that not only satisfy immediate needs but also contribute positively towards the world we're leaving to our descendants. In this way, the Seventh Generation Principle and the Children's Fire become not just cultural tenets, but actionable components of their life and / or business strategy.

As we navigate challenges, the symbol of the Children's Fire often serves as a poignant reminder of the need to stay committed to long-term, sustainable goals, even when faced with difficulties. I provide support during these times, helping my clients stay true to their vision for a better future.

When I have the opportunity to spend time in nature with my clients, such as during nature-based workshops or retreats, the environment itself becomes a co-facilitator. The tranquillity and beauty of nature serve as a canvas on which reflections, insights, and transformations occur. Nature is our silent partner, echoing the values of resilience, growth, and balance that are central to our coaching conversations.


In these natural settings, my clients often gain a deeper understanding of the importance of sustainability, systemic impact and long-term thinking. Experiencing the cycles of nature first hand can bring the Seventh Generation Principle to life and illuminate the importance of decisions we make today on the world we pass onto our descendants.

But the lessons of the environment are not confined to the great outdoors. Even when I'm not physically in nature with my clients (a lot of my work is on zoom or in offices), the principles of interconnectedness, sustainability, and responsibility remain central to our work. By integrating systemic principles into my coaching, I help my clients make decisions that are fulfilling and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable life, workplace, and family environment. In doing so, my clients can find a greater sense of confidence in their decisions, knowing their decisions are aligned for themselves, and for the world around them and those yet to born.


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