Solving the wrong problem really well: How family offices can understand human behaviour
The power of paradox can be found in many parts of our life and the distinctions can be hard to perceive. Yet missing these nuances can be disastrous, particularly for high-net-worth clients running high-stakes operations.

What you need to know

  • We compulsively seek things that may not fit with the nature of a human being.
  • This constant ‘growth mindset’ when poorly grounded can be accelerated by the dopamine reward circuitry, activated by wealth and pleasures.
  • The countering forces to ‘getting real’ and grounded away from these misguided directions can be immune to rational thinking and efforts, making behaviour change efforts difficult.
Health & Longevity Updated on October 21, 2022

The power of paradox can be found in so many parts of our life. ‘Less is more,’ saying no is the right yes for a goal to be manifested, or being ‘alone together’ in our technology-driven world. These distinctions can be hard to perceive yet missing these nuances can be disastrous, particularly for high-net-worth clients and family offices that run high-stakes operations, where errors of judgment aren’t just a mere ‘oops.’ When we train our brain without the skill of discernment of nuance, we risk compulsively doing things that feel right, which may in fact be far from it. And since the brain is addicted to patterns and reducing dissonance, we can feel good while we insidiously sink.

It can be difficult to admit that people in human service professions don’t really know human nature. They simply know what they want to do with it, what others should do with it, or what’s wrong with what others want to do with it, swapping out their “doing” as better. In the case of many HNWIs, where money is abundant, the cost of throwing a few dollars at a poor solution is minimal. In a way, this parallels the dynamic of the addictive self-help industry. While not all HNWIs are addicts per se, they’re at a higher risk of falling victim to their own dopamine dumps due to the very nature of their lifestyle. So while the average person is simply addicted to doing whatever an infomercial promises, the HNWI has the potential to be similarly deluded by worldly evidence of success. This dopamine dump can ‘protect’ them from seeing nuanced wisdom beneath.

About the Authors

Dr Kevin Fleming

Dr Kevin Fleming

Neuroleadership & mental health

Dr Kevin Fleming's research into the neuroeconomics of decision making has been instrumental in helping both the at-risk high net worth client and the mainstream prevention-seeking family office to incorporate and implement best practice behaviour change solutions to preserve both one's wealth and one's brain.

Connect with Dr Kevin Fleming

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Simple solutions for complex times.