Seventh Generation Thinking

This week’s theme is decisions that benefit our children’s children. Put another way, what are the most important choices I make as a parent, uncle, son, cousin, nephew and grandson.

The books of Hughes, mentioned in Readings To Strengthen Your Family discuss the concept of Seventh Generation Thinking. The idea being to make decisions that benefit citizens (or family members) 140 years down the road. Given that my life takes unexpected turns every decade, thinking 50/100/150 years in the future isn’t meaningful to me. I needed to reframe the question.

Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, recommends thinking backwards to gain clarity. So, to learn what might really matter, I ask myself “What choices of my great-grandfather continue to echo in my life?”

The themes that I came up with:

  1. Location, citizenship & community
  2. Agreeing the role of family and renewing that covenant each generation
  3. Creating, and sustaining, traditions
  4. Teaching and facilitating good daily habits
  5. Teaching and facilitating financial wellness
  6. Teaching and facilitating effective interpersonal skills
  7. Initiating family strategic reviews and following up

While I left Canada in 1990, way way back, members of my family made a decision to emigrate and that was a key choice. Likewise, my wife’s parent’s decided to move to Colorado when she was a newborn.

Despite my respect for Canada, and occasional desires to move to Palo Alto, being American and living in Colorado provides my kids with the stability and opportunity for a successful life.

Are we in the right place for my children’s children to have a chance to live the life I wish for myself? Here in Colorado, the answer is yes.

Interestingly, up in Vancouver, my great-grandfather would have answered yes in the 1940s. However, Vancouver grew so fast that the city is a little crowded for me.

Over the last 20 years, the place that most felt like home to me was New Zealand. However, putting 12,000 kilometers between my wife and her family doesn’t make sense. Given that I searched the globe (!), to find the right woman, I should respect her roots.

So the first question to consider is, “Are we where we need to be?”

Living in Asia in my late-20s, I began to suspect that I wasn’t where I needed to be. Eventually, in my early-30s, I left Asia and moved to New Zealand. There I found a home, and people, that suited my values. As fate would have it, I met a wonderful American lady and ended up in Boulder. In my life, it’s been easier to see where I shouldn’t be, than where I should.