I can’t recall when it happened exactly, but sometime last century I first heard the word “counterintuitive” and I was instantly smitten.
What a great word.
It’s a word you don’t hear every day, that sometimes elicits a quizzical look from people. A “fifty cent” word.
So today I wanted to blog about some of my favourite counterintuitive ideas.
Let’s begin with something that people who live in cities can all relate to, traffic.
When you expect that there will be lots of traffic, your first inclination might be to leave early to get where you’re going.
It may seem counterintuitive to leave late, but once the traffic has let up, you’ll have a less stressful drive and arrive in a better mental state.
Reliable Internet Service
I don’t know if it’s just me, or my choice of Internet service providers, but sometimes my hard-wired cable is pretty unreliable and inconsistent.
We couldn’t get cable at the cottage, so we had to “settle” for satellite instead. I worried about reliability because I need to be able to work from there too.
I do plenty of meetings over Skype and Zoom and was worried that there would be glitches.
Counterintuitively, I cannot recall a single glitch in any call I’ve had with anyone from there, while my cable calls from both my home and office are often sub-optimal (another favourite word!).
Strong Steel, Weak Glass
Many years ago there were some home break-ins in our neighbourhood that concerned me.
I called in a security expert to see what we could do to fortify our home. I was told that one of our patio doors was a risk. It’s a steel door containing a large window.
I assumed that the glass was the weak point.
Nope. It was the steel.
The steel is so thin that anyone with a sledgehammer could smash it, but the window is apparently virtually indestructible.
Family Wealth Transition Examples
Of course I now need to share a few examples from my professional world too.
There are many times when I suggest that people Zig when everyone else is suggesting that they Zag.
And one of my new favourite expressions is “Don’t just do something, stand there!”
A Bigger Pie Won’t Solve Everything
There is a propensity for people to think that more money is always better than less, and that therefore, making the proverbial pie bigger should always be the goal.
But for a family, there are other forms of wealth besides financial.
Families who concentrate solely on making more money, under the assumption that everything else will work itself out, are fooling themselves.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true.
There comes a time in every family’s life cycle when the focus should switch from how to make the pie bigger, to how the pie will be shared and maintained in the future.
A Looser Grip is Safer
On a related note, many of those who create a lot of monetary wealth also like to control everything (and everyone) they can.
When it comes to family members, I will always maintain that holding on with a very tight grip is not a recipe for success.
You probably know people who are guilty of this, even if you have not thought about it in the same terms as my metaphor.
When anyone tries to exert complete control over others, it will eventually backfire.
It always does.
Kudos to those who recognize this and choose a looser grip.
Slow Down, Go Far
As I wrote in Going Far? Go Together, I believe that family business and family wealth are much more about “going together” than they are about “going fast”.
If you are concerned with doing things quickly, then going alone, or doing things by yourself, can make perfect sense.
But family wealth eventually reaches a stage where it becomes more about how those who will be on the receiving end of the transition are able to function together as a group.
This ability to work together is rarely something that they’re all born with, and as such, it takes time for it all to come together.
No Rush, Except…
You really shouldn’t rush the process.
In fact, there is only one thing you should rush here.
Hurry up and get started, so that you can then slow down and take your time getting it right.