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Guest Post: The “7 Generations Principle”

Join us in becoming part of "The Lakota Project", to encourage players and parents to honor the Native American traditions of lacrosse and find opportunities to "serve the greater good".

Anthony Lanzillo is a mental skills coach to athletes and writes about the mental game of sports.

Join and Follow The Lakota Project on Facebook here.

Taking The Road Less Traveled

"The real question is not: Does life have meaning? Rather, the real problem is: Does my particular life have meaning? The single issue in the life of each individual that both encompasses and supersedes all others is: What am I here for?"

-Rabbi Bryon L. Sherwin: Creating Your Life As A Work Of Art

When I look around at the world today, I often watch people who appear to be disoriented and disconnected to themselves and everything that surrounds them. I see people who spend more time looking at their cell phones instead of the faces of those whom they live, work and play with, racing to get ahead, becoming more impatient, being more concerned with looking good instead of being good, spending most of their time inside instead of being outside in the natural environment, and are having a difficult time stopping, taking a deep breath and really asking themselves - "What am I doing?" There are too many people on the road to who knows where.

Then there are moments when I see the game of lacrosse which I have come to love, and begin to wonder what this game may have to offer besides simply being an exciting game to play or watch.

Many years ago, when I was in high school and living outside of Chicago, I spent some time one summer visiting with the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota. Even after more than 40 years, I still have vivid memories of the beautiful landscape, the hospitality of the people and, at the same time, the poverty and poor living conditions. I always told myself that someday I would do something to honor and help them.

Well, that someday happened last Thursday when I sent out a short message to some of my lacrosse contacts on social media. I simply asked people to think about honoring the Native American culture that created the game of lacrosse, reflect upon the "7 Generations" principle that challenges people to think about their daily decisions and the impact of those decisions on the next 7 generations, and find opportunities to serve the "greater good".

Within 48 hours, I began hearing from and/or talking to various groups and individuals from across the US who wanted to do something to carry this message forward. For example, one high school coach wanted to talk to his players about using the 7 generations principle in their personal lives while another coach was thinking about having his team take on a community project. There was a group of coaches and players in Uganda who were inquiring about joining the effort. And I heard from a few sports organizations that were interested in telling their members about the ties between the Native American culture and the game of lacrosse, and finding ways to support this idea.

So, this past Monday, I sent out another message and announced that this "idea" is now the "Lakota Campaign", and that together we will continue this dialogue about how to honor and support the Native American culture, encourage people to take at least 7 seconds out of each day to reflect upon how their decisions could impact the next 7 generations and, every 7 days, serve the greater good - whether its working with an environmental group, serving meals at a homeless shelter or visiting children at the hospital.

For anyone out there who is reading this article on Lax Library, I would encourage you to take a moment and think about "taking the road less traveled". Here are some simple steps that you could take to support this campaign, bring some substance and meaning to your life, and also enrich and empower the people around you.

When you wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and ask yourself what is one good thing that you could do for another person. And when you go to sleep at night, take another deep breath and reflect upon any decisions you made that day and how they may impact the next 7 generations. Also, during the day, think of even the smallest decision you could make that would have a positive impact upon your family, community or the earth. Like, turning out the lights in a room that you're not using, picking up the trash in a public park, holding the door open at a store for someone right behind you, stopping to pet someone's dog, writing a letter to a loved one whom you haven't seen for awhile, or simply smiling and saying "thank you" to the next person who offers to help you.

If you are a coach, you could take a few minutes out of each team practice, and talk to your players about the importance of making the right decisions in sports and in life. You could also talk to the players about how to make decisions to not only become better athletes but to also become better human beings. And you could ask the team to pick a community project to support and work on during the lacrosse season.

If you are a player, you could spend a little time helping a younger person who wants to learn how to play or needs some help with their studies. Also, you could think about how to be more helpful to and supportive of your teammates and coaches. And, towards the end of each team practice, you could encourage your teammates to briefly talk about what the game of lacrosse has given them, what they are grateful for and what they love about playing sports.

The Lakota Campaign has just begun. I look forward to talking to and meeting with many of you as we take this road less traveled together. Lacrosse is definitely a special community that offers each player and coach a unique opportunity to discover what one is here for, and how he or she can make this world a better place.