Innovation not possible when hair’s on fire

Life coach and author shows financial institution leaders strategies for confronting worry and overcoming stress to think creatively

DES MOINES, IA (June 30, 2016) — TMG Executive Summit participants today learned that worry is not a response we are born with; it’s a learned behavior. They heard this from Mitch Matthews, life coach and author, during a morning session designed to help financial institution leaders begin to unlearn worry.

The session was particularly poignant for today’s audience, comprised largely of credit union and community bank leaders working to retain their position in a fast-paced and shape-shifting financial services environment. Many of those attending TMG’s annual conference are charged with leading their financial institution’s payments strategy, an area of financial services experiencing its fair share of disruption from exponential technology, fintech innovation and new competitive entrants to the marketplace. It’s easy to see why, Matthews pointed out, this group is prone to worry.

Worry, because of the biological responses humans have to it, destroys our ability to think creatively. Often, Matthews said, change — such as that caused by disruptive innovation in financial services — is met with worry. We are too offended or frightened to see the opportunities. To illustrate his point, Matthews pointed to American high jumper and Olympian Richard Fosbury, the first to leap backward over the bar. His method, which was met with many a raised eyebrow, eventually became known as the Fosbury Flop and remains the preferred method by track and field athletes today. The catalyst for the Fosbury Flop, Matthews shared, was a change in the landing surface from sawdust to a mat. According to Matthews, most athletes hated the mat when they first encountered it. Fosbury, on the other hand, saw an opportunity, which allowed him to open his mind to the possibilities it could offer the sport.

So, Matthews suggested, whenever financial institution leaders find themselves confronted with frightening or offensive changes, they should ask, “Where’s the mat?”

To show participants how to start unlearning worry, Matthews shared a couple exercises he believes can shut down the human body’s natural “fight or flight” reaction to the stimulus of worry. One of them is The Buckets exercise. The practice allows individuals who are worried about anything from personal to professional troubles to place their worry into one of three mental buckets: one for things they can control; another for things they can influence; and a third for things they just have to let go of because they simply can’t control or influence them.

A second exercise Matthews took the participants of his session through is a three-part one. He called for the financial institution leaders to confront worry first by identifying it; next by replacing it; and lastly by doing something intentional, such as taking a walk, or even more simply, smiling for 50 seconds.

Matthews, a self-described recovering worrier, said his decision to stop worrying came after a mountain climb during which he was nearly struck by lightning. He had worried all the way up the mountain “about all the ways I could die,” and yet getting struck by lightning hadn’t even made his list. “It was at that moment, huddled in a cavern on the top of a mountain, that I realized I’ve been living my life from mountain top to mountain top, always waiting to relax or to enjoy the moment,” he said. “I didn’t want to live that way any more.” To help himself unlearn worry, he decided to teach it, which has led him to his current career as a life coach and author.


About TMG

TMG is dedicated to creating customized, technology-driven card processing and payment solutions for credit unions and community-based financial institutions across North America. Innovations in fraud management, loyalty programs, alternative payment systems and analytic reporting, and the competitive advantages they create, have helped TMG forge a new standard in offering cutting-edge credit, debit, ATM, prepaid card products and a P2P payment solution. For more information, visit


Kelly Moore Consulting, Inc.

More News