What If We Become Good Ancestors?

Resource from Helen Strong, Marcus Griswold, Julie Courtnage, John Frost, and Laura Re Turner

In essence: If you know you can become a good ancestor then what will you do differently now? – An approach for coaching

The seed is the question: What if we become good Ancestors, and the perspective that underpins it:

  • that there can be a more sustainable future, that what we do now matters, and
  • we can be good ancestors.

As coaches helping those that we work with to consider their responses to this question could help them take positive action towards a life-affirming future

As a first step I asked myself the question and used the staged process given in Strong et al.’s ‘ What if we became good ancestors guide’ to ask myself what I want to do now to move towards being a good ancestor.

Before coaching sessions reminded myself that could be valuable to bring the perspective to the coaching context. When felt appropriate asked questions that invited the ‘thinker/ coachee’ to consider if they travelled forward in time and looked back what would they want to have done/been.

3 insights

  • The personal shifts in mindset and actions feel ‘good’ and seem important for me to be authentic when coaching. For example, each week when I do the shopping order I change one item to a more planet-friendly purchase. As a family we discuss on a weekly basis how we can contribute to regeneration rather than simply being consumers.
  • When people engage and connect with a ‘higher purpose’ they feel energised and as a coach I feel good. Often asking about the purpose of their identified goals and the legacy they want to leave helps with this engagement. For example, when working with school leaders I have asked “ What is it that you want your pupils to say about you when they are adults?” This starts to get into thinking about future generations.
  • Bringing the perspective into some coaching conversations is tricky. When people voice a view that is more short term we can wonder how to manage this. Sometimes it seems appropriate to persevere, perhaps by noticing that staying with the short term and sometimes it seems appropriate to ‘back off’. But it is not always clear!

Reviewed by: Rebecca Raybould

Original source: “The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World” by Roman Krznaric

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