Decisions that matter span generations. They always have, and today we still feel the ripples, and the unintended consequences of what seemed like a good idea generations ago.
Steven Johnson talks about this in his latest book, Farsighted. It’s a welcome addition to a vital but largely under utilised canon on decision making.
My favourite though goes back much further, to aboriginal wisdoms, in particular the Native American peoples.
I’m familiar with two versions.
The first is that of the of the founding document of the Iroquois Confederacy, which states that “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations“. The link will take you to it. It’s worth a read.
The second, given to me by one of my teachers I can’t attribute, but it works on the same principle. It refers to us all being the fourth generation, shaped by the preceding three, and shaping the following three.
We are making decisions today with enormous consequences that will affect those yet to be born, and it seems we still have much to learn about real leadership.