Creating the Creative Mindset
Training Wheels - September 2022

Internal Links Kristen Reid

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
– Albert Einstein

At last month’s CFO Conference, our keynote speaker Nikki Dixon-Foley said to the audience, “Raise your hand if you believe you are a creative person.” From my vantage point at the back of the ballroom, I was able to see that only a small number of hands went up, and even those hovered hesitantly in the air. 

Now, if I am being honest, my hand wasn’t in the air either. When I assess my strengths, creativity is not one that jumps to the top of the list.  But Nikki got me thinking – as a child, I believed I was creative, always imagining the next adventure and then developing the plan to make it a reality. I wasn’t constrained by habits or prior experiences. Yet somewhere along the way, I became far more comfortable with convergent thinking, focusing on a well-established solution, versus the possibilities that abound with divergent thinking.

In 2022, all our conferences feature Nikki as a common keynote speaker. During her remarks, she shares how success is primarily engineered by changing the way we think about things.  The question that she posed to the CFO Conference attendees was the opener for when she addresses how to “create the creative mindset”.  In her talk, she breaks the process down to three simple steps:

  1. Ask questions “what if?” and “how about?”
  2. Get comfortable with chaos
  3. Walk away and let serendipity do its work

As simple as these steps seem, they aren’t always easy to embrace and integrate into our daily lives. Asking “what if?” and “how about?” means first accepting that our ingrained habits – both ways of thinking and “how we have always done things” – may no longer be the best approach. Chaos is not comfortable for most people, and we find ourselves trying to fight it and create tranquility or doing what is “easy”. Walking away and letting serendipity do its work involves releasing control and allowing a “happy accident” to lead us someplace amazing, but can also be an angst driven journey (and one that I am still working on).

As we move into the final third of 2022, be aware of your mindset and that of your team. Is your thought process keeping you “stuck” in the way things were done in the past (i.e., pre-pandemic) or is it moving you, your team, and your bank forward in this new world we find ourselves in? Are you leaving space for your creative side to come through? Doing this will allow you to identify new opportunities, embrace risks and challenges, and promote innovation.

Nikki has already provided our conference attendees many gems around creating success; “creating the creative mindset” is just the one I latched onto at the CFO Conference. We are looking forward to hearing more from Nikki at our upcoming Lending & Credit, Leadership and Women in Banking Conferences, as well as during a special virtual session on emotional intelligence in December open to all 2022 VBA conference attendees. We hope you will join us this fall at these events to learn more from Nikki and walk away with your own gems!