Matt Follows on Resilience

Last week we had a Master Class with Matt Follows on ‘pressure proofing our creative brain’. Matt shared a series of valuable lessons for anyone working in high-pressure environments. His advice was informed by his own experience working in the advertising industry as well as his knowledge of performance psychology and applied neuroscience. 

One of the biggest takeaways from Matt’s class was the importance of finding the right amount of pressure to boost our productivity. According to Matt, the sweet spot is where we feel enough pressure that we produce quality work, but not so much that we tip into burn out. Of course, we know already that that is easier said than done, and toeing the line between healthy amounts of pressure and harmful anxiety is something that I suspect we will all be learning how to do moving forward. 

Another piece of advice which resonated with me was that fear is not conducive to increased productivity or creativity. As someone who is guilty of having used fear as a motivator in the past, this was a good reminder that this is not an effective (or indeed healthy) way to work toward my goals. As Matt said, what has worked to help us reach our goals in the past is not what will help us do so in the future – each new goal in our journey requires adjustments to our strategy. This is something I will remind myself of whenever I find myself reverting to old habits; just because they’ve worked in the past does not mean they’re right for the present. 

Another point Matt touched on was the need for confidence and a strong sense of self. Particularly in the advertising industry, where you regularly have to present your ideas to the others, with varying results, you need to believe in your right to be in the room. This resonated with me, particularly after experiencing how essential confidence has been when presenting ideas (good or bad) in the past few weeks. 

We also discussed the importance of focusing on one task at a time and minimizing distractions. This was a valuable reminder, particularly as we’ve had to organise our time around multiple briefs and work groups. Setting aside for focused work periods seems simple, but recent weeks have proven that it can be difficult when juggling different projects and learning how to work in teams. It definitely reminded me that multitasking burns more energy and creates more frustration than it enhances productivity, and that I should try to work with as little distractions as possible. 

Overall, Matt’s insights into managing pressure and increasing productivity and creativity in a healthy and manageable way were invaluable. Combined with Diana Jervis Read’s class on Time Management, I’m feeling a lot better equipped to tackle the months ahead.  


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